NIGHTLIFE by fionan


Drinking a pint of beer could land you in prison in some parts of the Middle East, but in Dubai, alcohol is tolerated, with non-Muslims allowed to imbibe alcohol in the city’s bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels except before 1900 during Ramadan. Indeed, it is easy to forget all about the local attitudes to alcohol when on a wild night out in a city whose nightlife is increasingly nefarious. Although non-Muslims are the only people officially allowed to drink, often you can find Dubai Arabs enjoying a pint in one of the many bars. There are no specific nightlife districts as many of the best bars are in the big tourist hotels, which are situated throughout the city. Many of these are open until 0100 or 0200. A cheaper and livelier option is the independent bars that are dotted around town. Happy hours are common, with Thursday and Saturday the biggest nights for going out. Tuesdays and Sundays are often ’Ladies Night’, with female revellers receiving free drinks. The legal drinking age is 21. Licensing hours vary greatly, as many of the hotel bars are allowed to open and close whenever they want. Closing time is normally around 0100 or 0200. The club scene is a curious one, with nightclubs often delineated along ethnic and national lines. Increasingly, big name DJs are being attracted to Dubai, as a Western-style clubbing scene starts to develop. By law, clubs must close at 0300. Many clubs are over-25 only. Dress codes for bars are generally relaxed, although some bars and all clubs insist on no jeans, trainers or sandals. A more mellow night out can be had at one of Dubai’s coffee houses, where you can smoke apple-flavoured tobacco from a shisha pipe. The listings magazine, Time Out, can be found in many hotels, offering a full rundown of what is happening at night in Dubai. Hotel concierges are also often able to provide guests with the latest nightlife information. Bars: One of the oldest ex-pat bars, The Irish Village, Dubai Tennis Club, off Al-Garhoud Road, is still going strong, with a good range of beers and an outdoor seating area. It faces stiff competition from more recent arrivals, such as Carter’s, The Pyramids, Wafi Centre, a stylish haunt of the 20- and 30-something brigade. Minimalist Ginseng, Wafi City, with its mood lighting, Asian-themed décor and first-rate cocktails, is another popular choice. The lowest common denominator is catered for at Rock Bottom Cafe, Regent Place Hotel, Bur Dubai, a rowdy drinking den with three pool tables, live music and a dancefloor. The new heart of Dubai nightlife is in and around the swish Madinat Jumeirah (website: complex. A gaggle of trendy bars recline by the water’s edge of this expansive leisure zone. Highlights include the buzzing Left Bank and the slightly more upmarket and slightly older crowd at Agency. A new favourite with the local ‘beautiful people’ is the Buddha Bar, Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, with its stunning cocktails and free servings of pretension. The Fatafeet Cafe, Alseef Road, has good views of Dubai Creek and is an atmospheric coffee house in which to try a traditional shisha. Clubs: Some of the best and biggest clubs have closed or struggled in recent years, but there are still a few good options for those looking to hit the emirate’s dancefloors. Oxygen, at the Al-Bustan Hotel, and Tangerine, at the Fairmont Dubai, are classy club oases for discerning punters. Trilogy (website: at the Madinat Jumeirah is one of the hottest new venues, a massive space split across three floors, that attracts both the best of emirate DJ talent and some big names from further afield. Charlie Parrot’s (website: at the Oasis Beach Hotel has live music or a DJ most nights in a venue that reeks of unpretentious fun. Live Music: Planet Hollywood (website:, Wafi Pyramids, off Al-Qataiyat Road, is a reliable option, with an eclectic selection of mediocre to good bands and covers outfits. Bordertown, Al-Rolla Road, is a Mexican theme bar that stages live bands most nights of the week. The Irish Village, Dubai Tennis Club, off Al Garhoud Road, also hosts many live acts.

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