Whether you want to dance all night, enjoy rooftop cocktails as the sun sets, party from midday to midnight at a beach club, catch a live comedy show, or sing some Karaoke, Dubai—the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates—has the venue to suit your mood. “The City of Gold” also offers big international jazz and film festivals as well as a regional shopping festival. Tourists and locals can even experience a lounge with live music in the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which stands at an astounding 2,722 feet (828 meters) tall and has over 160 stories. Located between the desert and the Arabian Gulf, modern Dubai is full of life, and there are numerous ways to explore the multicultural, dynamic city's after-dark side.
Visitors will find an abundance of public transportation options that make moving around the city easy. And Dubai is one of the safest places in the Middle East. But learn some local customs before planning your trip: You'll want to avoid drinking, kissing, and even holding hands in public, which are considered inappropriate behaviors. Also, be careful if traveling with a same-sex partner and/or a loved one you are not married to, as the laws are stricter in Dubai.
If you came here to party, you’re in for a treat. Dubai plays host to many famous musicians and has some impressive nightclubs that cater to a variety of tastes.
- WHITE Dubai: For a night to remember, head to what was voted one of the top 20 nightclubs in the world—and the best in the Middle East—by DJ MAG. This open-air superclub, on the Meydan Grandstand Rooftop, delivers the hottest DJs and jaw-dropping light displays on Thursdays through Saturdays, with a dance floor that pumps music until early morning.
- Soho Garden: Home to four bars in one located near the Meydan Racecourse, this is an adults’ playground, influenced by London’s Soho area. Sashay between the relaxed Glasshouse, the chic Bellini Bar, the Italian-inspired Negroni bar with a sunset mezzanine, and the lively Tiki Bar with exotic cocktails.
- Cavalli Club: Inspired by fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, this over-the-top lounge and restaurant is adorned with over-sized chandeliers, eye-popping textiles, international artists, and party-starting DJ beats.
- Armani/Privé: The Giorgio Armani-approved interiors offer a sleek aesthetic, with back-lit marble and surfaces that are as shiny as the well-heeled clientele. Spend your late nights dancing to the music of DJs and global musicians in this Hotel Dubai club (except Mondays and Wednesdays).
For a more sophisticated party vibe, seek out one of Dubai’s sleek rooftop bars with fabulous views, or have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and vista at the lounge in the world's tallest building.
- The Penthouse at FIVE Palm Jumeirah: This bar delivers jaw-plummeting views of Dubai Marina from its perch on the 16th floor of a glamorous hotel resort. Special events include Skyline Thursdays: You'll see the air-conditioned terrace transform into a thumping dance floor.
- 40 Kong: To mingle with the city’s expat crowd, head to this palm-fringed rooftop lounge on the 40th floor of the H Hotel, in the heart of Dubai’s business district. Settle in to watch the sun set over the city, then stay until the small hours of the morning, sipping French rosé and top-shelf spirits. Note the bar is closed in the summer.
- Iris Dubai: On the 27th floor of The Oberoi hotel, this award-winning industrial-chic lounge is an after-work favorite for live music and expertly poured cocktails.
- Atelier M: Hightail it to the top of Pier 7 in Dubai Marina, where a secret rooftop lounge features international DJs and dazzling marina views. Inside in the Art Deco-style lounge, take advantage of happy hours five nights a week. On Tuesdays, Beauty & the Beat offers women four free drinks and complimentary beauty treatments.
- Burj Khalifa: The Lounge in the world's tallest building is a good place to catch some live music or hear the DJs spinning tunes as you sip on a drink and enjoy finger foods 1,919 feet (585 meters) above Dubai.
Restaurants With Bars
Some of Dubai’s most seductive bars can be found in high-end restaurants with wonderful food, lovely decor, and skyline views.
The best of these are located in the city center's Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC, which is the principal financial hub for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region). Long lunches can easily segue into late-night affairs. Roberto’s Salotto Lounge Bar brings Italian la dolce vita (the sweet life) to Dubai, with smart martinis, free snacks in the early evenings, and skyline vistas. Nearby, Zuma Bar & Lounge is home to a handsome wood-lined sake bar and sultry lounge serving Japanese-inspired cocktails with a side order of city views.
Found at the Four Seasons Resort, Coya—the stylish and colorful Peruvian eatery with touches of Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine—also includes The Pisco Bar & Lounge, a lush Latin American bar decorated in rich jewel tones, with DJ tunes, live bands, pisco (Peruvian brandy) cocktails, and a plush members-only bar.
At the H Hotel, enjoy an English pub experience at The Lion by Nick & Scott, where you can watch sports events on TV, play darts and pool, and have some late-night fish and chips, along with a beer. Or check out multi-level Play Restaurant & Lounge for fine “Mediterrasian” (Mediterranean and Asian) cuisine and first-class drinks in fashionable surrounds with windows from floor to ceiling, also located at the H Hotel.
For a party that starts at midday and continues well after midnight, make for one of Dubai’s beach clubs, where you can drink, dance, swim, and mingle.
- Zero Gravity: Frequently voted the city’s best beach club, this business is located on the edge of the Drop Zone for Skydive Dubai in the marina, at the northern end of Jumeirah Beach Residence. By day, sip cocktails on the beach or in the 130-foot (40-meter) glass-sided infinity pool, then hit the dance floor once the sun goes down to listen to international artists and DJs.
- Barasti: Nearby at Le Meridien Mina Syahi Beach Resort & Marina, Barasti vies with Zero Gravity for the title of Dubai’s hottest beach club, featuring live music, food from tapas to steaks, live sports on a big screen, a festive pool and beach scene during the day, and huge dance parties by night—all with the beautiful Dubai Marina in the background.
- Bliss Lounge: Located at Jumeirah Beach, this club is a favorite, with late-night dinners, champagne, and fresh juices to savor as you watch the sunset and enjoy the tunes by the DJ. Wednesday nights are Heels and Wheels Ladies' Nights, serving up discounted sushi rolls and three free beverages; also check out Happy Hours Sundays through Thursdays.
If bars and nightclubs are not your thing and you'd rather find a place for some laughs, Dubai offers some fun options.
For a taste of improvisational theater or comedy with most shows aimed at adults, try The Courtyard Playhouse. On Sunday nights you can catch Theatresports (an improv competition), or the Genre Improv, which entails a certain narrative style, time in history, or reference from popular culture. Gorilla Improv on Monday nights features the most skilled actors directing each other; there are additional engaging options at the playhouse each week.
One of Dubai's top choices for giggles is The Laughter Factory, which presents a two-hour stand-up comedy show each month when three of the world's best comics head to the Middle East. Enjoy these fun shows at various venues in Dubai.
Makati Comedy Bar on the seventh floor of the Asiana Hotel is a casual venue offering four nightly comedians, private rooms for karaoke (in English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino languages), along with Filipino food. Each Monday is ladies' night, with free drinks given out.
On top of all the other nightlife options, Dubai has some famous festivals that appeal to global audiences of visitors and locals. Music fans can venture to the Dubai International Jazz Festival, one of the Middle East's most beloved music festivals, held in late February. In March, the Taste of Dubai Festival is a chance to immerse yourself in cooking demonstrations and the cuisine of famous worldly chefs, all while enjoying drinks and international music. The Dubai International Film Festival displays local and global talent and highlights Arab cinema; it takes place every two years in December. There's also the Dubai Shopping Festival from late December through early February each year, which includes retail discounts, concerts, fireworks, raffles, and more.
Tips for Going Out in Dubai
- The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21 in Dubai, so carry your ID with you to avoid any hassles at the door.
- While tourists are permitted to drink alcohol in licensed venues in Dubai, being drunk in public is illegal—and there is zero-tolerance for driving with even a hint of alcohol in your system. Be on your best behavior while drinking in Dubai to avoid hefty fines or jail time.
- Dubai has taxis (the price you pay depends on the time of day, tolls, and other factors) as well as the rideshare apps Uber and Careem.
- Travelers and locals seeking public transportation can utilize the Dubai Metro, an automated railway system: Tickets must be bought as a Nol card, which you may also use to pay for the bus, tram, and taxis. There are hundreds of air-conditioned buses in the city, and day or night, the water bus takes you between four scenic stops in the Dubai Marina: Marina Terrace, Marina Walk, Dubai Marina Mall, and Marina Promenade.
- Dress to impress. The dress code in Dubai’s bars and nightclubs is polished, so leave your jeans in your suitcase. And while women can get away with skin-tight mini-dresses inside the club, it’s worth bringing a wrap or jacket to throw on when you’re back outside.
- Most venues offer a Ladies Night, offering free drinks and other benefits to women, such as complimentary snacks or discounts on dining. Check out Ladies Night Dubai for an extensive list of venues and offers.