Want to make the most of your free time in Dubai? Or just fancy taking up a new hobby? Boost your creative repertoire by signing up for one of the many different courses and workshops on offer across the city. Holly Sands looks at what’s out there for ambitious residents

For many people in Dubai, the start of a new year becomes very much about losing things – weight, bad habits, flaky friends… But why not make 2014 the year that you gain something? Whether you feel like now’s the time to make the career change you’ve always wanted to, or simply make the most of your free time by doing something productive, the best way to start is by trying a new skill on for size – and fortunately, Dubai is bursting at the seams with courses, workshops and one-off classes. From baking to deep sea diving, ditch brunch and find a more creative way to spend your time.

Become an artisan baker 

The International Centre for Culinary Arts in Dubai runs a number of special courses for novice cooking enthusiasts, including a basics amateur cookery programme, amateur patisserie programme and artisan chocolate making and bread making. The latter is composed of four classes, each three or four hours long, where participants learn the art of bread baking, including proper mixing, fermentation, shaping, proofing and scoring, the importance of temperature and techniques, and of course how to make a variety of breads, from baguettes to brioche, croissants to ciabatta. If you’ve always fancied a career in the kitchen, professional chef courses are also available at the centre.

Group bread making class Dhs2,000, individual class Dhs3,000. 

International Centre for Culinary Arts, 
Knowledge Village,www.iccadubai.ae 
(04 457 8822).
Try making pottery 
In a six-week courseIf you’ve always fancied creating and selling your own wares at one of the city’s popular markets, Dubai International Art Centre hosts a wide range of courses that could help you on your way, including those in sculpture and pottery. Six-week pottery courses with instructor Michael Rice run two hours a night on Saturdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Clay and tools are extra, but these can be purchased at the centre. 
From Dhs930 for a six-week course. Ongoing. 
Dubai International Art Centre, Villa 27, Street 75b, Jumeirah 1, www.artdubai.com 
(04 344 4398).
Explore the ocean and become a diving instructor
For those who are passionate about the open water, there are dozens of diving courses available in Dubai to help you spend more time beneath the waves, whatever your ambitions. For those who simply want to get a taster, Al Boom’s PADI scuba diver course is a great place to start, while the next level up – open water diver – will allow you to dive up to 18 metres. Those who dream of a career teaching others can shoot for the stars with a PADI instructor course.
From Dhs1,500 for PADI OW e-learner course, from Dhs7,000 for PADI instructor development course (assistant instructor and open water scuba instructor). 
Al Boom Diving, various locations across Dubai and the UAE, www.alboomdiving.com 
(04 342 2993).
Train to be a photographer 
The International Institute of Art & Photography in Dubai offers a range of courses that can take you from a beginner photographer and equip you with the skills to become a professional. There are part-time evening sessions, full-time courses and private classes for those who prefer not to work in a group – all these end with an examination and certificate. Alternatively, you can try the four-day workshop to take you from the basics to an advanced level (without examination or certificate).
From Dhs3,500 for four-day workshop, from Dhs12,000 for professional courses. Ongoing. International Institute or Art & Photography,www.iiap.ae 
(04 369 7253).
Perfect make-up and hair styling
Always fancied life as a freelance make-up artist, hair stylist or both? Taking a course with Illumin8 Media Make-up Studio could put you on track. The options include a 14-day professional media make-up course, a five-day hair course, or a 19-day combination of the two. Private lessons are also available.

Course prices on request. Ongoing. 

Illumin8 Media Make-up Studio, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, www.illumin8makeupstudio.com 
(050 872 8374).

Get your brain working and master a foreign language
Speaking more than one language can boost your chances of employment no end. Dubai’s Eton Institute offers courses in more than 100 different languages – you can start from scratch or polish your accent in Bengali, Croatian, Serbian, Tagalog, Urdu, Japanese, Swiss, English, Italian or even sign language. If you can’t fit in a few two-hour sessions during the week, there are also more flexible online courses available.

Group courses from Dhs1,500. Ongoing. 

Eton Institute, Knowledge Village, www.eton.ac 
(800 3866).
Get creative and become a textiles whizz
Whether you want to make your own clothes, cushions, wall hangings and more, or simply to mend your belongings, Dubai’s Craftland can help. A whole host of workshops take place every week, including introduction to machine sewing sessions, quilting, embroidery, knitting and hand-stitching, as well as clinics for those who need expert help with current projects and clubs for more seasoned sewers.

From Dhs50, machine rental extra. Ongoing. 

Craftland, Town Centre Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Road 
(04 342 2237).

Brush up your oil painting abilities
Expand your artistic horizons by starting with your own painting prowess. Ductac’s oil painting for adults is designed as an introduction to the medium, and covers materials and how oil paints are made, colours and mixing, the importance of light and different forms of lighting in paintings, limited palette painting, warm and cool colours, perspective and much more.

Dhs1,320 (eight three-hour sessions). Ongoing. 

Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, www.ductac.org 
(04 341 4777).
Learn how to meditate and teach others
Learn how to manage your anxieties, reduce stress, improve your sleep quality and much more through the ancient art of meditation. Illuminations Well-Being Center in Jumeirah Lakes Towers offers private coaching in meditation (and yoga, if you’re interested) to help you understand how to practise basic techniques when you’re alone.

Dhs150 per one-hour session. Ongoing. Illuminations 

Well-Being Center, 409 Fortune Executive Towers, Jumeirah Lakes Towers 
(04 448 7043).
Get in tune with a musical instrument
Some people will always be melodiously challenged, but others have an inner Bach just waiting to be unlocked. The Music Institute (TMI) in Dubai is a great place to find out which category you fall into, with lessons available for a variety of different instruments. Try your hand at piano, guitar, drums, the lute, violin, saxophone, flute or keyboard.

Prices vary. Ongoing. The Music Institute, Murjan 1, JBR, www.tmi.ae

(04 255 9747).
Transform your life and train as a yoga teacher 
It’s the next step for the city’s most devoted class-goers – learning the art of instructing a group. Zen Yoga’s next 200-hour course, led by Thomas Taubman ad Laurel Beversdorf, is open to serious students and aspiring teachers, and offers the chance to deepen your practice, realise your potential and transform your life.

Dhs14,500. March 1-13 or April 27-May 9. 

Zen Yoga, Building 10, Dubai Media City, www.yoga.ae 
(050 376 6984).
Take a first aid training course and help save lives
Almost all companies have nominated first aiders among their staff – and adding this life-preserving skill to your repertoire could nudge you above a competitor candidate the next time you apply for a job. During a first aid training course with the UAE’s National Ambulance service, you will learn how to respond in the case of a heart attack or serious accident, with instruction on how to deliver cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). The eight-hour course can be done in a single day, or split over two, and if you prove yourself competent, you will be given a certificate valid for two years in first aid and one year for CPR and AED (you will need to do a refresher thereafter).

Prices vary, group and corporate sessions available. Ongoing. 

National Ambulance, various locations, [email protected] 
(02 596 8600).
Become an expert at interior design
Always had an eye for colour and a flair for furnishings? Ductac’s six-week Introduction to Interior Design: level one course, designed for beginners, takes a hands-on approach, with classes structured around real rooms. Expect to get an understanding of the basic guiding principles of interior design – and the chance to develop your own personal style and confidence.

Dhs1,600 (six three-hour sessions). Next course begins March 10. 

Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, www.ductac.org 
(04 341 4777).
Make your own silver jewellery
Sign up for a one-off workshop or take part in regular weekly classes with British silversmith Don Sankey. You can also organise group sessions – minimum of eight students per session – and you don’t need to have had any experience with the craft in the past.

Prices vary depending on size of jewellery item. Ongoing. 

DS Silversmith, various locations including The Courtyard, Al Quoz,www.dssilversmith.com 
(04 360 8113).
Get your private pilot licenceIf 
You’re not short on cash and fancy following in the footsteps of millionaires before you, why not put the effort (and hours) into getting your private pilot licence? Emirates Aviation Services offers a course, which includes three phases of theoretical and flight training. It’s a big commitment, lasting six to 12 months, but successful completion will allow you to realise the dream of flying solo (once you’ve got your hands on a plane, that is).
From Dhs81,550. Ongoing. 
Emirates Aviation Services, Terminal 2, Dubai International Airport, www.emiratesaviationservices.com 
(04 299 5155).

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