You won’t go thirsty in Dubai, and the huge number of drinking holes tucked away all over the city attests to the extraordinary degree to which this Muslim city has accommodated Western tastes. The best bars encapsulate Dubai at its most beguiling and opulent, whether your taste is for lounging on cushions in alfresco Arabian-themed venues or sipping champagne in cool, contemporary cocktail bars. Superlative views are often thrown in for good measure, whether from a perch atop one of the city’s tallest skyscrapers or at one of its many waterfront venues, some of which offer sweeping coastal or creekside panoramas. Most larger hotels also have English-style pubs, with obligatory faux-wooden decor and banks of TVs showing the latest sporting events – a lot less stylish than the city’s bars, but usually a bit cheaper.

Not surprisingly, boozing in Dubai comes at a price, thanks to high government taxes. A pint of beer will usually set you back around 30–35dh in a pub (more in a bar, assuming draught beer’s available, which it often isn’t), a glass of wine around 40dh and a basic cocktail around 50dh. Costs in the city’s pubs can be cut (slightly) by looking out for happy hours and special promotions.

Most bars open at 6 or 7pm and stay open till around 1–3am; pubs generally open from around noon until 2am; some places stop serving alcohol between 2 and 4pm (although they may stay open for food and soft drinks). Most of the city’s more upmarket drinking holes accept reservations (phone numbers for relevant places are listed), although the more club-style DJ bars often require a minimum spend in return for booking you a table. Smarter bars usually have some kind of dress code – don’t be surprised if you get turned away if you rock up in shorts and T-shirt.

Although Dubai is extremely liberal (at least compared to the rest of the region) in its provision of alcohol, be aware that any form of public drunkenness is strongly frowned upon, and may even get you arrested, particularly if accompanied by any form of lewd behaviour, which can be taken to include even fairly innocuous acts like kissing in public (see Culture and etiquette). The city also has a zero-tolerance policy towards drink-driving – worth remembering if you get behind the wheel on the morning after a heavy night, since even the faintest trace of alcohol in your system is likely to land you in jail.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Dubai features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Away from the skyscrapers: how to find the “other” Dubai

Away from the skyscrapers: how to find the “other” Dubai

It’s big, brash and lays claim to so many world records it might even have the world record for the number of world records. But beyond the superlatives, skys…

22 Nov 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

The Middle East is a paradox. Located at the cultural crossroads between east and west, the region nowadays tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, b…

16 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for a perfect weekend in Dubai

A day-by-day itinerary for a perfect weekend in Dubai

Dubai is a city like no other. One of the world’s fastest-growing metropolises, it has been transformed from a small Gulf trading centre into a glamorous…

15 Sep 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month