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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Double Decker

    World Trade Centre | Bars/Pubs

    From the moment you spot the suits of armor and red telephone box, you'll know where you are. Premier League soccer games are broadcast on the...Read More

  • 8. Hobo Camp

    World Trade Centre | Live Music

    Situated in a car park and not adhering to any regular schedule, Hobo is defines themselves as "a hangout for the nonconforming nomads," which...Read More

  • 9. Indie

    World Trade Centre | Cafés

    A vibrant yet relaxed venue, this cozy spot is part lounge, part club (most nights feature live music), and part restaurant. Drinks are pricey...Read More

  • 10. Nippon Bottle Company

    World Trade Centre | Bars/Pubs

    A Japanese speakeasy in a Thai hotel in Dubai? Why not? NBC is revealed behind a bookcase, and was one of Dubai's first hidden bars. Inside...Read More

  • 11. Zuma

    World Trade Centre | Bars/Pubs

    There are quite a few high-end Asian restaurants in Dubai that also house fabulous cocktail bars, (also of note, Okku, Hakkasan, and Play) but...Read More

  • 12. Aussie Legend's


    Aussie Legend's is an Australian-themed bar where the tubes (or beers) are cold and the TV always shows sports. Good beer, pool tables, and...Read More

  • 13. Harry Ghatto's


    a popular, bustling Japanese restaurant during the early evening, turns into a tiny club after 9, and an hour later provides the best karaoke...Read More

  • 14. The Agency


    The Agency a favorite with corporate types for working lunches, offers a sophisticated take on the tapas experience. With a list of more than...Read More

  • 15. Vu's Bar


    on the 51st floor of the swanky Emirates Towers Hotel, screams sleek 21st century, with a vast metal and glass canopy wall that overwhelms the...Read More

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