Football is back - so where in Dubai should you watch?
It’s that time again: the annual Barclays Premier League is back for its landmark 20th year, and we’ve found the best local spots to watch the matches. We’ve based our decisions on how much uninterrupted action you’ll catch (ie no heads should get in your way) and how much fun there is to be had at each venue. We’ve also cornered former Liverpool and Newcastle manager Graeme Souness to discover his hot tips and teams to watch for the coming season. Read on to feel as close to the action as you can here in Dubai.
Barrels There’s plenty of seating for less sprightly fans, and even small screens mounted to the walls at the end of tables, so you can eat while your view of the football remains unfettered.
Screens: 11, of varying sizes. Atmosphere: Friendly and laid-back. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily noon-2am, alcohol served after 8pm during Ramadan. Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888).
Boston Bar It may be named after an American city, but this unpretentious spot is typically full of (mature) Brits or eastern Europeans. With relatively reasonable drinks prices, it can get quite lively in here during matches.
Screens: 10 screens around the bar. Atmosphere: The vibe is boisterous, but not uncomfortably so. Fan-friendly factor: 3/5 Open daily 8pm-3am during Ramadan; noon-3am after Ramadan. Jumeirah Rotana, Satwa (04 345 5888).
Citymax Sports Bar Whoever you support, it’s hard to argue with Dhs23 for a draught beverage. The carpets and curtains feel a little retro, but they’re less tar-stained than at some other spots on this list.
Screens: Two giant screens and seven TVs. Atmosphere: Fun and energetic, if a little subdued during half-time. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily 8pm-1am during Ramadan; noon-3am after Ramadan. Citymax Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 407 8000).
Crown & Lion A great place for British expats to pretend they’re back at home (the only difference is they won’t have to wait until half time for a smoke).
Screens: Eight screens set around the perimeter of this sizeable bar. Atmosphere: You can smell the testosterone. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily 11am-2am, with alcohol served after 8pm during Ramadan; 11am-3am after Ramadan. Byblos Hotel, TECOM (04 448 8000).
Dhow & Anchor Home of Dubai’s unofficial Tottenham Hotspur fan club (aka Spurs Al Arab), head here if you’re in need of a hearty feed.
Screens: Two inside, and a giant screen outside from September. Atmosphere: Laid-back enough that you can still dine during the match. Fan-friendly factor: 3/5 Open daily noon-1am, with alcohol served after 8pm during Ramadan. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999).
Goodfellas Goodfellas has been the bar of choice for many fans, but it’s recently become the new home of the Liverpool FC supporters club.
Screens: Two giant screens, 19 regular TVs. Atmosphere: Welcoming, if a little intimidating when the game heats up. Fan-friendly factor: 3/5 Open daily 8pm-2am during Ramadan; noon-4pm and 6pm-3am after Ramadan. Ramee Rose Hotel, TECOM (04 355 6633).
Harvesters Home of the Manchester United supporters club, this place stands out for its excellent pub grub. The gloomy interiors are warmed by the glow of a TV in every corner.
Screens: 13, plus one big screen. Atmosphere: Drawing an older crowd, the vibe is generally less frenzied and more focused. Fan-friendly factor: 3/5 Open daily noon-2am, with alcohol served after 8pm during Ramadan. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111).
Loca There are draught taps on the tables here, which means less time trying to get served and more time cursing the ref. Members of the official UAE supporters clubs for Chelsea and Wolves get discounts.
Screens: Eight flatscreen TVs, spread across various corners of the venue. Atmosphere: Laid back, quite hip and friendly, with a good-humoured crowd. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily noon-4pm and post-iftar-2am during Ramadan (serving alcohol after 8pm); noon-3am after Ramadan. Dubai Marine Beach Resort, Jumeirah (04 346 1111).
Locker Room No towel-whipping or fan affiliation here. This modestly proportioned bar houses a larger crowd than could be considered a comfortable fit, but that only serves to liven the atmosphere.
Screens: Five TVs positioned around the bar. Atmosphere: It’s buzzing when there are lots of fans in; otherwise a little cold. Fan-friendly factor: 2/5 Open daily 7pm-midnight during Ramadan; 1pm-1am after Ramadan. Golden Tulip Al Barsha (04 341 7750).
Spirals There’s little evidence this bar is affiliated to a team save for when Arsenal are playing, when you should prepare to dodge all manner of aerial missiles as the crowd gets excited.
Screens: 15 screens of varying sizes. Atmosphere: Just shy of an all-out riot at times. Fan-friendly factor: 5/5 Open daily during Ramadan 8pm-2am; noon-4pm and 6pm-3am after Ramadan. Grandeur Hotel, Barsha (04 341 8777).
Time Café This bar can accommodate 350 punters, and the 57 screens ensure there will never be more than six people sharing a screen.
Screens: 55 plasmas and two 107-inch LCDs. Atmosphere: Lively, and less intense than some of the bars with team affiliations. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily 7pm-3am during Ramadan; noon-3am after Ramadan. Ramee Royal Hotel, Karama (04 334 4088).
The Underground Pub Just the ticket (sorry) to watch football in surroundings designed to replicate a pre-match wait at one of London’s ‘tube’ stations. Has just been tidied up with a refurb.
Screens: Two large screens and 18 TVs of varying sizes dotted around the bar. Atmosphere: Rowdy during big matchdays, busy at most other times. Fan-friendly factor: 4/5 Open daily noon-3am, The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina, (04 408 4221).