Time Out takes a seat at the best smoke-free bars in Dubai
Dubai is still playing catch-up when it comes to implementing a blanket ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, but reports claim the emirate could soon complete the transition. The current no-smoking law covers malls and hospitals, as well as restaurants and bars depending on the type of ventilation systems fitted. By December, it is anticipated this ruling will extend to all hotel rooms and restaurants.
Some Dubai venues, such as The Address Montgomerie, already subscribe to these conditions. ‘Our hotel rooms and all indoor places are already 100 per cent non-smoking, and we’d like to keep it that way,’ explains Ali Furtan, manager at the hotel’s Nineteen restaurant. Aquara, at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, also follows this lead. ‘Second-hand smoke kills, so we promote a healthy, safe environment,’ explains food and beverage manager Winifred Steven.
According to the most recent statistics, 23 per cent of men and 2.9 per cent of women in the UAE smoke, while the portion of the global population lighting up is approximately 20 per cent. Around the world, there have been mixed reactions to bans on smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants, with non-smoking venues in the US, Germany, Australia and the UK reporting huge losses – up to 50 per cent in some cases – blamed on a decline in alcohol sales and club admissions. On the other hand, live musicians in Ireland have cheerfully reported that their instruments require much less cleaning as a result of less polluted environments.
We’ll have to wait a while to see the impact of a smoking ban on Dubai’s clubs and restaurants. In the meantime, whether you’re a smoker or not, why not give your breathing apparatus a break and head to one of these smoke-free spots?
Looking out over the marina, Aquara makes the most of its waterfront location. There’s an outdoor terrace where you can soak up the sunset, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows, so even if you’re indoors you won’t miss a thing. If the panoramic view isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s a daily happy hour-and-a-half from 6pm until 7.30pm, which routinely draws large crowds.
Open daily 6pm-midnight. Dubai Marina Yacht Club (04 362 7900).
You won’t find an anti-flip-flop policy at this seriously laid-back Aussie bar. It’s themed around the beach and has a host of regular goings-on to keep guests happy, including live sports matches, a quiz every Monday at 8pm and happy hour every Thursday from 5pm-8pm. Feeling peckish? The well-priced options range from platters to salads.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-midnight, Fri-Sat 10am-1am. Al Manhal Clubhouse, Palm Jumeirah (04 427 0515).
Just off the blindingly colourful lobby of Atlantis, Barazura is decked out in vibrant aqua and blue. The extensive drinks menu, from bubbly to mixed beverages and beyond, will provoke delight in the adventurous, and there’s a daily happy hour (or three) from 8pm-11pm, which attracts businessmen, pre-party types and hotel guests.
Open daily noon-2.30am. Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
This sports bar is named after its influences – a mix of New Zealand, South African and Aussie – which are reflected in everything from the atmosphere to the grape rack. A haven for expats who find many of Dubai’s pubs to be too Brit-focused, service is good and there is sport airing regularly on numerous screens.
Open Sun-Thu 6pm-2am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 428 5888).
It’s three bars in one, but it’s the main section in this upmarket spot that’s mercifully smoke-free. Pleasant staff and a brilliant view are the foundation of this popular venue, and you’ll find plenty of the marina set here on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Open daily 6pm-2am. The Address Dubai Marina (04 436 7777).
Media City’s newest after-work hangout offers plenty of drinks deals for the area’s creative types. Despite the bewilderingly tiny tables (and undercooked snacks), the bar is consistently popular. It’s buy one, get one free on selected drinks on Sundays and Thursdays, with music from DJ Anas (formerly of Pacha Marrakesh), and there are three free drinks for ladies on Tuesdays.
Open daily 11am-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).
Positioned on a petite marina overlooking the creek, The Terrace attracts a glam crowd. When the sun goes down, this a great place to take in the twinkling skyline, not to mention the excellent Russian beverages. DJ Sticky Fingers provides the tunes from Wednesday to Fridays (see Nightlife listings on page 100 for details), while there’s a happy hour every Saturday from 6pm until 9pm.
Open daily 4pm-2am. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 602 1234).
A sophisticated, candlelit spot on the edge of Emirates Hills, Nineteen offers plenty of comfortable chairs in which to nestle while enjoying a glass of grape. It’d be churlish not to sample a few tapas and one of the venue’s 250 vintages while admiring the golf course view. On Thursdays and Fridays from 7pm, there’s also a live saxophonist.
Open daily 7.30pm-midnight. The Address Montgomerie, Emirates Hills (04 390 5600).
If you’re after Polynesian-themed good times minus the smoky atmosphere and warbling live band, this is the spot for you. Popular with airline crew, there’s no live music here, but there are always some Latin beats on the go. And while there aren’t any happy hours, the mixed drinks are considerably cheaper than at rival venues.
Open daily 6pm-1am. Renaissance Dubai Hotel, Deira (04 262 5555).
Just off the main restaurant area, this bar at the beachfront Mövenpick Hotel on Jumeirah Beach Residence’s The Walk boasts an impressive grape list and even fire shows on occasion. A chilled-out spot that’s perfect for a mean snack and a relaxing afternoon drink (the place closes pretty early), the indoor bar is intimate, but there’s an expansive outdoor area next to a swimming pool, which has recently become the home of a monthly pool party.
Open daily 9am-10pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, JBR (04 449 8888).
What about shisha?
According to the Ministry of Health, smoking shisha for an hour is the equivalent of smoking 70 cigarettes. Dubai Municipality recently tightened up legislation surrounding shisha cafés, moving them out of residential areas and dictating that they should be at least 200m from mosques and schools. In Jumeirah, the cafés are only allowed to let patrons smoke shisha indoors. Outlets found to be violating the rules can be fined up to Dhs40,000.