When it comes to nightlife, Dubai is easily the liveliest place in the UAE and probably the best place for an evening out on the entire Arabian Peninsula. People come from miles around to sample its live music scene, bars and clubs. Entertainment in the emirate has become surprisingly eclectic, featuring everything from VIP style venues, rooftop cocktail bars and burlesque shows to more down-to-earth live music spots, beach bars and clubs, so there’s something to suit all tastes.
You might find yourself sipping a sundowner in a garden atop a skyscraper, sailing and champagne-swilling along Dubai Creek, dancing in an industrial club, watching a live band, immersing in a theatrical spectacle or sitting round a Bedouin fire telling stories under the desert stars. To give you some tips and ideas we’ve rounded up some of the best places to enjoy a night out in Dubai.
Top nights to try
Pizza Express Live
The well-known Pizza Express chain has built a reputation for showcasing live music at its London venues and has exported its Soho blend of dinner and jazz to Dubai, taking it up a notch with a dedicated live stage, dance floor and eclectic musical offering. Part of the DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai complex in Business Bay, on Wednesdays you can catch local talent at "La La Live" – the weekly open mic night – and Fridays is currently Club Cubano night which features house band "Sincopa Ti" straight from the Cuban capital Havana. Its legacy means you can often see some great jazz musicians performing here too, and there’s a Happy Hour (or four) every day from 4 to 8pm.
Platinum Desert Safari
For dinner at an Arabian oasis under the stars, Platinum Desert Safari offers Dubai’s most enchanting and luxurious desert encampment. After a late afternoon safari through Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, canapes and sparkling date juice are served among the dunes as the sunset shifts the sands through a spectrum of colours. Then it’s a short camel ride to a selection of domed tents encircling a small oasis where the evening’s entertainment includes the Flaming Sands of Arabia fire show. Guests are treated to a tasty six-course meal grilled in the open air including fresh king prawns, salmon, chicken, steak and roasted veg. Aromatic shisha pipes and henna tattoos lend an even more magical Arabian feel to the evening.
New to Dubai’s party scene, this recently revamped nightclub in Dubai Marina aims to be an antidote to the typically swanky clubs that pepper the city. It’s slotted into the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, and as evidenced by the name, Industrial Avenue is designed to offer a stripped back raw rave experience with minimalist urban décor. With no VIP areas, velvet-draped lounges or magnums of champagne, there are no bells but maybe a few whistles as the newly opened club reckons it wants to recapture the days when clubbing was all about music connecting people. It’s set to feature a host of international DJs and club nights transplanted from Europe including Ibiza style party "Casa Loca".
Although sailing along Dubai Creek on a traditional Arabian dhow definitely appeals, the buffet dinners and belly dancing offered by many dinner cruises may not be to everybody’s tastes. Step forward Bateaux Dubai with plush glass-walled boats designed for dining and sightseeing. For a romantic evening cruise, Bateaux Dubai ticks all the boxes with great food and wine, excellent service and pretty views sailing along Dubai Creek between the city’s oldest districts with the striking structures of modern Dubai twinkling on the skyline.
As a city known for its skyscrapers, it’s little surprise that Dubai has more rooftop bars than most, but the Treehouse is undoubtedly the most green and pleasant place to enjoy a cocktail. With a great view of world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa, this urban rooftop retreat is a great spot for sundowners and light bites from the Mediterranean inspired menu. The terrace is designed as an outdoor living room with sofas and low tables rimmed with ornamental trees and sprinkled with bushes and spruces. A soulful deep house soundtrack adds to the mellow vibe, and expert mixologists fashion exotic cocktails infused with fragrant smokes and sweet vapours.
The city’s first burlesque club has shades of the Moulin Rouge with acrobats draped around rings dangling from the ceiling and scantily clad performers gyrating on a lower level stage. Appropriately set within the Shangri-La hotel, the Victorian style theatre filled with fine art replicas, The Act also offers supper service at marble tables encircling the stage, where you can graze on traditional Peruvian fare such as ceviche, quinoa and maracuya garnished with unusual ingredients like edible flowers.
A Cirque de Soleil style acrobatic stage show designed by the renowned director Franco Dragone specifically for Dubai, La Perle is the region’s biggest theatrical spectacle and makes for a thrilling evening out. Set in a custom-designed aqua-theatre the show uses water, stunning acrobatics and special effects to tell the story of a girl searching for a lost pearl. The tale draws on Arabian myth to reflect the culture of pearl-diving in the region and the show features everything from aerial dives to motorbike stunts that will have you absolutely enthralled for the 90-minute run time.
If you’re too hyped to return to your hotel at a decent hour there are a few other options to continue your night into the early hours. Aside from Industrial Avenue, Dubai’s clubs tend to be of the swanky Kardashian kind. New on the scene is Las Vegas superclub Drai’s Dubai, while White Dubai features hiphop and RnB with big names like Jason Derulo and Rae Sremmurd sometimes performing live. Fun and lively Toy Room in Downtown Dubai is renowned for its hiphop sets, celebrity clientele and teddy bear mascot Frank.
If all that’s abit too jiggy for you, there’s always the British ex-pats favourite Rockbottoms, which opens until three in the morning, serves cheap lime-green shots and sometimes gives out free slices of pizza. It’s far from sophisticated but always a good laugh with plenty of intoxicated dancing, drinking and general merriment.