Dubai

Dubai is party central for the Middle East. Expats here work hard and play hard, so there's no excuse for sitting in your hotel room watching reruns of Friends dubbed in Arabic. The city has action of every type—ultra-cool cocktail bars, beach clubs with day-into-night partying, desert terraces for sharing a glass of champagne,
Dubai is party central for the Middle East. Expats here work hard and play hard, so there's no excuse for sitting in your hotel room watching reruns of Friends dubbed in Arabic. The city has action of every type—ultra-cool cocktail bars, beach clubs with day-into-night
Dubai is party central for the Middle East. Expats here work hard and play hard, so there's no excuse for sitting in you

Dubai is party central for the Middle East. Expats here work hard and play hard, so there's no excuse for sitting in your hotel room watching reruns of Friends dubbed in Arabic. The city has action of every type—ultra-cool cocktail bars, beach clubs with day-into-night partying, desert terraces for sharing a glass of champagne, sports bars and pubs with monumental flat-screen TVs, and designer-label nightclubs where you can dance until dawn.

You may have to refinance your mortgage to pay for a serious night out in Dubai. Alcohol is served only on licensed premises—usually attached to international hotels—and the prices are often exorbitant. You have to be 21 to order drinks or stand in bar areas where alcohol is being served, and an ID will often be demanded. In addition, some popular clubs restrict entry to clients based on their appearance. People love to dress up in Dubai, so be sure to follow suit for your evening of clubbing; otherwise you may be left on the curb. Sandals are not allowed in clubs.

Live music is popular in the city, and tends to sit at extremes of the spectrum—cover bands perform in dive bars and mainstream international artists play for tens of thousands. Classic performance arts have had a thin presence, however recent years have brought welcome change thanks to the growing population, opening of the Dubai Opera House and the increasing quality of acts at venues like Madinat Theatre.

Movies have always been popular in the Middle East. Large multiplex centers show the latest blockbusters from Hollywood and Bollywood, as well as films from around the Arabic-speaking world. Here, going to the movies is a luxurious experience; theaters with food designed by Michelin-starred chefs, kids-only zones, and of course the latest in high-tech viewing, such as 4DX and IMAX.

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  • 1. Barrel 12

    Jumeirah Beach | Bars/Pubs

    Despite Palm Jumeirah's chichi image, there are plenty of casual bars and bistros, particularly on the trunk where the bulk of residential apartment...Read More

  • 2. Cocktail Kitchen

    Dubai Marina | Bars/Pubs

    An unassuming exterior leads visitors into one of Dubai's most serious drink havens. In this contemporary basement space you might forget you...Read More

  • 3. Loca

    Jumeirah Beach | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Styled by Heineken bar designer Ferry Tabeling, Loca is an industrial-styled, Tex-Mex themed beer haven. Apart from having a stack of options...Read More

  • 4. Lock, Stock and Barrel

    Burj Dubai | Bars/Pubs

    Eight thousand square meters of retro-garage-industrial space spread over two floors make up one of Dubai residents' favorite music venues....Read More

  • 5. Music Hall

    Jumeirah Beach | Cabaret

    This might be a Lebanese import, but most would never know; teeming with multicultural excess, this place screams Dubai. It's modeled after...Read More

  • 6. Provocateur

    Jumeirah Beach | Dance Clubs

    A spin-off of the club in NYC, Provocateur keeps things classy. Music is always electronic, acts are international, the crowd is elegant, and...Read More

  • 7. The Music Room

    The South Bank | Music Clubs

    This place is exactly what it says on the cover, no pretense or broken promises. It's a laid-back venue, full of grunge princesses and old rockers...Read More

  • 8. Aji

    Jumeirah Beach | Piano Bars/Lounges

    One of Dubai's first forays into Nikkei cuisine is also one of the prettiest overwater bars. The decor is what sells this place—someone has...Read More

  • 9. Armani Privé

    World Trade Centre | Dance Clubs

    No other club in Dubai can compete with Privé when it comes to elegance. Where many of the clubs in the region are flashy, bold, and intense...Read More

  • 10. Atelier M

    Dubai Marina | Piano Bars/Lounges

    Although strictly a restaurant, Atelier M has a very clublike feel on the rooftop, and opening hours until 2 or 3 am prove the clientele aren...Read More

  • 11. Bahri Bar

    Jumeirah Beach | Bars/Pubs

    Set among the rose-color barjeels of Madinat Jumeirah with splendid views across the complex, Bahri Bar is a good spot to slip off your shoes...Read More

  • 12. Barasti Bar

    Dubai Marina | Bars/Pubs

    Barasti might be the old dame of bars and nightlife in Dubai, but it's still going strong. It's grown from a pub set on a large wooden jetty...Read More

  • 13. Bean There Bistro

    The North Bank | Cafes–Nightlife

    It might be called a bistro, but this eclectic space is also great for a quick beverage. Despite the coffee connotations in the name, most come...Read More

  • 14. Belgian Beer Café

    The North Bank | Bars/Pubs

    There's an excellent choice of boutique beers on tap and in bottles, and similar to what you'd find in Belgium, each beer has a specific glass...Read More

  • 15. Boudoir

    Jumeirah Beach | Dance Clubs

    Opening in 2002, Boudoir was the first French lounge-styled club to open in Dubai (of course, without the Burlesque dancers). Think flocked...Read More

  • 16. Brunswick Sports Club

    Burj Dubai | Bars/Pubs

    True to its name, BSC keeps it sporty, casual, and very, very laid back. There are plenty of TV screens to catch live action, and an indoor...Read More

  • 17. Buddha Bar

    Dubai Marina | Bars/Pubs

    Part of a chain casting its net around the world, where better to establish a presence than in hot Dubai? The terraces of Buddha Bar overlook...Read More

  • 18. Cafe Belge

    World Trade Centre | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Providing a five-star aspect to after-work beers, Cafe Belge is a classier option for those who just want a simple drink without a rambunctious...Read More

  • 19. Cavalli Club

    World Trade Centre | Dance Clubs

    Not for the timid, Cavalli club displays all the opulence, glamour, and materialistic notions that most people expect of Dubai. It's the kind...Read More

  • 20. Cave

    World Trade Centre | Bars/Pubs

    Pronounced the French way, "cahve," this sleek venue takes its name from the wine cellars of France. The wine list often has more than 35 offers...Read More

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