Restricted opening hours, tight regulations, and steep prices mean that the nightlife in Dubai cannot be compared to other parts of the world, such as southern Europe where the party never seems to stop.
Where to have a drink?
The only places that are licensed to sell alcohol are hotel bars and restaurants. Alcohol is available in the camps in the desert and on the tourist boats, therefore, despite the tight laws, visitors to the country won't encounter many difficulties if they want to have a drink.
Where to dance
Discos in Dubai run on a very limited schedule: from 11 pm to 3 pm. Most customers arrive around midnight and the club will generally peak from around 1 pm onwards. Most places will close at around 3 pm and then it is almost impossible to find another place open.
Among the hundreds of nightclubs in Dubai, some of the most fashionable places are White, Cavalli and Billionaire Mansion. There is a smart dress code of shirt and shoes to access these clubs.
You will find a calendar of the different clubbing events here:
Besides looking at the web pages of the different nightclubs, another good way to find out about clubbing events is to ask in the reception of your hotel and they should give you some recommendations.
- Groups of girls: If you are part of an all-female group, then you simply need to look for events advertised as "ladies nights". On these nights, not only will you enter for free, but you will have an open bar for several hours, usually until 1 pm.
- Couples and mixed groups: In addition to a smart dress code, most clubs will charge to enter. The average cost is 100 AED per person.
- Groups of boys: Those who are lucky will get away with just paying the entrance fee, but in 90% of cases you will be obliged to pay a group reservation. The price of reservations in Dubai is very high, at least 2,000 AED per group, including a bottle. To try to avoid this charge, it is best to divide the group up and enter in pairs... good luck!
Our first advice is that, if you want to go out during the day, the best option is to attend a pool party at a beach club. Beach, pools, longer hours, better prices, what more could you want? Plus this is something that is not found in most other capital cities! These clubs tend to run all day, from morning until late at night, in many cases closing at the same time as the nightclubs.
On the other hand, if you want to experience the nightlife, do not miss the "happy hour" for your first drinks. Most bars have this until 7 pm but at some, it extends for even longer.
If you want to save money, a common option is to buy a drink at the duty-free at the airport, since once in Dubai, you will not find any supermarket licensed to sell alcohol. Curiously, in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, there are liquor stores just for foreigners.
Is it worth going out?
Dubai is not a city we would recommend specifically for partying, as there is an infinite number of better destinations for that. Having said that, if you are there and you want to go out, you won't be short of options.