Where to watch European football's biggest game in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Not a decision to take lightly; where to watch club football’s biggest showcase.
Whether you are hoping to see Manchester United lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley, the beauty of Barcelona strike a blow for pure football or just witness Sir Alex Ferguson’s face become redder and his chewing more furious towards the end of either result, you’ll want to pick the right venue. Here are some options …
Irish Village Selling point: Its setting in the shadow of the huge tennis stadium gives the Irish Village a real sports-event feel, like the match itself is talking place just over the giant wall and you couldn’t get hold of tickets so decided to savour the atmosphere nonetheless. If the action gets too hot for you outside, cool off inside the air-conditioned bar. Get five cans of hops for Dhs100. Screens: One huge screen outside in the gardens and three large screens inside. Details: Garhoud (04 282 4750)
Madinat Jumeirah Ampitheatre Selling point: The bowl-style seating creates an atmosphere of watching live football in stadiums in Spain or South America, and the huge figure of the Burj Al Arab looms impressively over the ampitheatre. Get pre- and post-match drinks from Dhs20 at Bar Zar, where the game will also be shown for those who favour the air-conditioned indoors. Screens: A big outdoor screen at the Madinat and plasmas on the walls at Bar Zar. Details: : Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6380)
CityMax Sports Bar Selling point: Possibly Dubai’s sportiest bar. Sports memorabilia adorns every wall and shelf. The old-fashioned carpets and curtains reminded Time Out of the inside of a working men’s club in the ’70s during our last visit. But with Leo Messi’s skills, Wayne Rooney’s tantrums and certain draught beverages at Dhs23 a pint, we don’t think you’ll even notice. Screens: CityMax will show the match on two giant screens and seven plasma TVs dotted around the bar. Details: Citymax Bur Dubai (04 407 8000)
Time Café Selling point: With a maximum capacity of 350, it’s easy to see why Time Café claims to be the biggest sports bar in the Middle East. So if you happen to be the most popular footy fan in all of Dubai, then grab your huge group of friends and head here. Screens: A whopping 55 plasmas and two 107-inch LCD screens. Details: Ramee Royal Hotel (04 334 4088)
Grand Cinema Selling point: Granted, watching football at the cinema may seem a strange proposition to anyone raised on bobbing your head to catch a glimpse of the single big screen in a smokey pub as increasingly loud and boisterous football fans push, shove and spill drinks on you. But picture it (pardon the pun); a clear view of the screen for all, air conditioning and a lapful of popcorn to keep you company. Win!
Grand Cinemas will be showing the match at theatres in Dubai Festival Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Wafi City and Mercato Mall. Screens: Er, one. A really big one. Details: Festival City (04 232 8328)
Loca Selling point: A Latin bar the perfect setting to watch the Spanish champions defeat the English league winners? Those rooting for Barcelona may certainly think so. Time Out is a big fan of the draught taps on the tables in Loca, where a good atmosphere is guaranteed for big matches. Loca is home to the official UAE supporters clubs of both Chelsea and Wolves and offers discounts for members of these respective clubs. Safe to say those members will also be Barca supporters for the evening … Screens: Eight. Details: Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (04 346 1111)
Aussie Legends Selling point: Whoever said Antipodeans knew nothing about good ol’ English (and Spanish) football have never watched 22 men chase a lump of leather from the comfort of this bar. Big-screen sporting action, be it rugby, football or cricket, draws large crowds to the ground floor of Rydges Plaza hotel. Pre-game with a go on the well-used pool table and enjoy Oz tipples, bar food and drink offers, including buckets and pitchers. Screens: A large screen will show the match. Details: Rydges Plaza Dubai (04 398 2222)
Harvesters Selling point: A red sea will wash over part of Shiekh Zayed Road on Saturday. If you are a Red Devils fan, this is the place to be for the game. The home of the official Manchester United supporters’ club in Dubai sees the ‘Busby Boys’ descend on the pub for every Manchester United game is. Barcelona fans may want to steer clear... Screens: 14 in all, one a big screen. Details: Crowne Plaza Dubai (04 331 1111)
Champions Selling point: Yes, it’s an American bar. Cue the inevitable jokes about ‘saaaaa-cr’. But did you know the word ‘soccer’ comes from the phrase ‘association football’, something as English as apple pie (which was also invented in England. Probably). Champions promises ‘good times, good food and good sport’. The interior is suitably slovenly and slapdash; a ramshackle array of framed memorabilia lines the bits of the walls not taken up by TV screens, while a large portion of the floorspace is given up to pool tables and arcade games. Fun. Screens: One giant screen and 14 plasmas. Details: JW Marriott Dubai (04 262 4444)
Seville’s Selling point: Has been home to the UAE branch of the Catalan giants’ fan club since 2008. More than 300 piled in to watch the semi-finals. Those with Spanish backgrounds form part of the crowd, the rest made up of ex-pats from across the world. Members generally only meet up for the big matches due to the time difference with Spain, which means many matches don’t kick off until near midnight. But they will be out in force on Saturday. Get there early and down some pre-match tapas. Screens: Two. Details: Wafi (04 324 4777)
Spike Bar Selling point: Wins sport points for being in the clubhouse at Emirates Golf Club (the terrace overlooks the putting green). No longer the working man’s club-type atmosphere it used to be, Spike is now a stylish venue for more than just golfers. Spectacular views over the course will make you forget you are in the middle of the desert. Food and beverage promotions on the evening will include a match of the day happy from kick-off until the final whistle. Screens: 11 plasma screens. Details: Emirates Hills (04 380 2222)
Goodfellas Selling point: Jostle for position in this sports bar popular among footy fans. Don’t expect to make a clean, dry getaway at the end of the night; about 150 piled in for each of the Champions League semi-finals, so drinks could fly. Expect a rousing atmosphere. Screens: Two 103-inch plasmas and 19 42-inch TVs. Details: Ramee Rose Hotel (04 450 0111)
Wok In bar Selling point: Not to be confused with the Asian restaurant it sits adjacent to, although taking your better half for some of the most enjoyable Pan-Asian cuisine in Dubai might just be your ticket to watch the big game afterwards.
Ample seating on couches and standing tables all around, plus get a pint of draught beverage and what Wok In promises are ‘the best mini-burgers in town’ for Dhs39. Screens: 42-inch plasma screens are dotted around the bar. Details: Mövenpick Hotel Deira (04 444 0111)
QD’s Selling point: An evocative setting on the banks of the creek, you will struggle to find a more spectacular setting. But this is about football, not breathtaking views! Special offers will be available on food and beverages on the evening of the match. Screens: One large one. Details: Garhoud (04 295 6000)
Icon Selling point: Sunday night matches throughout the football season usually find Icon Bar teeming with media types piling in after office hours. Saturday night games, however, tend to be a more reserved affair, and that is no bad thing. The action happens on the upper level of the two-storey bar and many of the components of a good sport bar are here. Expect comfy couches, standing tables and a good distribution of screens but the atmosphere is a little bit to stylish to be raucous. Polished chrome, atmospheric lighting and contemporary design put this more at the corporate hospitality end of the football supporters’ spectrum. The famously well-stocked jukebox is likely to be switched off during the match but, should your team of choice win, is the best way to get your post-match celebrations started. Screens: Five. Details: Radisson Blu Hotel (04 366 9111)
At Home Selling point: Man at bar: ‘You know what Rooney’s problem is …’ You: ‘Sorry mate, I didn’t ask …’ Man at bar (ignoring your plea for silence): ‘Rooney’s problem is that he doesn’t care/cares too much/doesn’t get stuck in/gets stuck in too much/looks like Shrek’s mother-in-law after a bad night’s sleep…’
How are you supposed to enjoy the beautiful game with some know-it-all in your ear telling you his opinion on everything from Barcelona’s diamond formation to Fergie’s choice of overcoat? Why not just eliminate this distraction by relaxing in your favourite armchair, opening a cool beverage from the fridge (saving yourself a small fortune in the process) and clicking on the game on the TV? Al Jazeera Sports 3 is screening the match, which kicks off at 10.45pm. Screens: Don’t ask us, it’s your house.
Barrels pub Selling point: Sporting fanatics, open your diary, turn to the page for Saturday, May 27 and scrawl a giant line through your whole evening. You are going to Barrels pub to watch the IPL final at 6pm and then the Champions League final at 10.45pm. Add to that drinks deals and food platters from Dhs30 and you’re in sport heaven. Screens: A large one and individual screens at your table. Details: Majestic Hotel Tower (04 359 8888)