The 12 Days of Christmas – the cost of recreating it in the UAE

It’s the time of year for seasonal cheer and goodwill to all men so for a little fun I’ve put together something a little different. It can be tough to decide what to buy for your significant other, particularly when they seem to have everything, so sometimes you just need to be creative. Most people know the song The Twelve Days of Christmas so to show someone that they really are your true love you could go all out and recreate it!

Here is your guide  to how to find the appropriate gifts for all 12 days to your beloved. This is the UAE so we just have to do things a little differently but if you really want to impress the love of your life this Christmas here’s how you can do it, and most importantly what it is likely to cost you.

Twelve Drummers Drumming – You might really annoy your neighbours if you get 12 drummers round your house, but how about joining Dubai Drums for a session? They offer a variety of classes which start at just AED 60 per person.  Price – AED 360 for 12 people.

Eleven Pipers Piping  – Your best bet here seems to be to book the Dubai Pipe Band. 11 bagpipe players on a sunny day in Dubai is sure to get the attention of your true love! Professional pipers aren’t cheap so you’d be looking at around AED 1,000 each. Cost – AED 11,000.

Ten Lords a Leaping  – If you choose to employ trained dancers you’re looking at a starting price of AED 500 an hour, much more if you want seasoned professionals. Assuming you just want some co-ordinated leaping you could make do with the students at the lower price. Cost – AED 5,000

Nine Ladies Dancing    –   You could hire some professional female dancers as before or book tickets for a ballet at the Dubai Opera House. Alternatively, for very little, get along to a ladies night. Many are free and you’ll see plenty of women on dance floors. Cost – zero

Eight Maids a Milking – you can’t buy people but you can hire them. Borrowing cows is a slightly more complicated matter. Agricultural workers don’t get paid very much in the UAE but with this being the UAE it might be easier to hire maids for a few hours. The cost for a maid starts at AED 40 per hour, with a minimum four hour booking, and let’s hope you can find one who grew up with animals or on a farm.

I have never heard of anyone renting cows here, or indeed anywhere, and they are rather large to keep as pets, so you may have to make do with goats which are also a little more portable and more common in the UAE. And they need to be nanny goats to be milked! Price depends on source and age but you’d get a cheaper price for buying eight of them, so roughly AED 700 each. Cost for the goats and the maids, approximately AED 5,760

Seven Swans a Swimming –  There are a few swans here but how about we go really Dubai about this and go for swan shape ice sculptures? Depending on the size and complexity you can expect to pay anything from AED 800 upwards for an ice sculpture, so let’s say seven swans at AED 1,000 each. Cost AED 7,000.


Six Geese a Laying – these need to be female geese so don’t forget to get that part right. There are plenty of wild geese to be found in the UAE if you look in the right place. You can see many at Al Qudra and at the Ras al Khor Wildlife Reserve, both in Dubai. I suggest you either take your true love for a trip to see some in the wild and then try to convince them they are seeing female ones that will be laying. You can’t take these ones home though. Cost – zero.

Five Golden Rings – a quick trip to any gold souq or the Gold & Diamond Park for this one. It’s the big sing-a-long part of the song so you need to get it right. Assuming you go for fairly plain rings, no diamonds, and depending on the price of gold on the day, I reckon you could spend around AED 500 each on 22K gold rings. Cost – AED 2,500

Four Calling Birds – The first point to clarify is what a calling bird is exactly. A search brings up a few answers, including that the wording was originally a ‘colly bird’ meaning a black one so maybe a blackbird, but in essence it is one that sings loudly. I suggest canaries as an alternative which can be found in pet shops and appear to be around AED 250 a bird. Cost AED 1,000. 

Three French Hens  – You can buy live hens or chickens if you plan to raise them, although you’d need a villa and they aren’t welcome in all areas so I suggest instead that you give three corn-fed French chickens, all prepped and ready for the table, as a tasty alternative. Small ones start at just AED 34 each so that will be AED 102.

Two Turtle Doves – pretty close to sand doves and they are all over the city so you could probably catch a couple of free, just on a temporary basis of course, as I‘m not even sure that’s legal! I couldn’t find anywhere selling the live birds but with the four canaries already and most people living in an apartment your true love probably doesn’t really want any more. Instead I found a classic UAE stamp of the UAE from several years ago featuring a Red Turtle Dove. These can be found for very little and with delivery you could get a pair for around AED 60 each, so a cost of AED 120.

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree  – This is two separate things. Despite a lot of searching I couldn’t find a pear tree for sale anywhere and whilst you could try growing your own from seed it is going to take a few years until you can use it and they won’t like our climate. Instead I suggest a more suitable UAE alternative, a date palm. The cost varies depending on type and size but one of a reasonable size will start at AED 600.

I am told that you can find wild partridges in the UAE but not ones you can catch and keep and you have probably seen enough birds by now anyway. It may be more practical to order ready to cook ones which are available to pre-order at this time of year at AED around AED 40 each. Cost for tree and the bird –  AED 640.

The total cost to recreate the Twelve Days of Christmas in the UAE is in the region of AED 33,482. That is expensive so it needs to be a one-off for someone who really is your true love.

Happy Christmas!

When not doing things like this I offer independent financial advice across a large range of issues including pensions, savings, life cover, investments, life and critical illness cover and offshore bank accounts. A full holistic service with the focus on personalised advice.

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About FinancialUAE

A qualified and experienced Independent Financial Adviser based in Dubai, UAE. Professional and ethical. Freelance writer on personal financial issues & the On Your Side column in The National. Founder of Facebook group British Expats Dubai. Senior Partner at Holborn Assets LLC, Dubai, UAE.
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