City spots that are perfect for soccer stars on holiday
Time Out Dubai staff
We have the good fortune to live in a city favoured by footballers: not only is Dubai full of restaurants and clubs where these bright young things can flash their cash, but it offers a sunny, accessible and generally paparazzi-free haven. And it’s not just present-day footballers enjoying Dubai – the city is becoming the place to live for retired players. ‘There are huge tax incentives available to [footballers],’ explains finance boss Paul Hymers of Atlas Corporate Services. ‘Sportsmen have short careers, so they can maximise what funds they have accumulated.’ In short: expect more and more footballers to be moving here to save a bit of cash. Gulp.
To celebrate Dubai’s status as the premier playground for footballers, here we profile their favourite hangouts and pick five venues at which to enjoy the Euro 2012 tournament from Friday June 8 (see page 106 for more venues, and the Sport & Outdoor section every week for UAE match timings). Hate football? We’ve also listed football-free activities. Back of the net.
Caramel This sleek lounge is a magnet for footballers. Newcastle United’s Danny Simpson was spotted chowing down on miso cod, TNT shrimp, a sundae brownie and a few mixed drinks. England midfield dynamo Scott Parker is also known to have visited the DIFC hotspot to carb-load on mac and cheese, as well as spicy yellowtail, tuna rolls and Chinese salad. Al Nasr’s Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni (who, with a name like that, could also double as Fat Toni’s sidekick in The Simpsons) is a regular at Caramel and, like every other footballer, enjoys a spot of TNT shrimp. DIFC (04 425 6677).
Emirates Golf Club Golf is one of the more reputable extra-curricular activities enjoyed by professional footballers. Night golf at Emirates Golf Club is hugely popular with Premier League players such as Lee Sharpe (when he’s not in The Stables), ladies’ man Ryan Giggs, gangly goalsmith Peter Crouch and Man City striker Sergio Agüero, who likes to get nine holes in when he’s not spending time with his Dubai-based father-in-law (a certain Diego Maradona). Emirates Hills (04 380 1234).
Movida What do Marouane Chamakh, El Hadji Diouf and David Ngog all have in common (other than the fact they’re all perennial underachievers)? That’s right: they all find time to visit exclusive nightspot Movida – all the more impressive when you consider the club is only open 15 hours a week. Likewise, former Brazilian fullback Roberto Carlos, famed for his enormously proportioned thighs, visits Movida when he’s not coaching mega-rich Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. Radisson Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (055 174 4449).
The Ivy Not content with eating high-end British food in Britain, England captain Steven Gerrard (accompanied by ‘celebrity’ WAG Alex Curran), former England ‘striker’ Emile Heskey and Liverpool’s midfield goal-machine Stewart Downing (with respective WAGs in tow), flew all the way to Dubai to eat at The Ivy. As you do. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8767).
Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa Thanks to XL Beach Club and Horizon Bar, the Habtoor has been enjoying the attentions of many a footballer. Former Al Ahli player (and World Cup-winning Italian captain) Fabio Cannavaro can’t get enough of Horizon, nor, it seems can surly Spurs defender William Gallas and Ronaldo wannabe Nani. XL, meanwhile, has hosted former Brazilian striker Romario and a flock of Man City players. They get everywhere, don’t they? Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
Park Hyatt Dubai The AC Milan team stay at the Park Hyatt every year while they’re training in Dubai during the Serie A winter break. We haven’t yet spotted them at the Traiteur brunch, though. Deira (04 602 1234).
Royal Island Beach Club, Lebanon Island We’ve heard rumblings that the entire Manchester United team were spotted recently on this exclusive World Island. Lebanon World Island (04 225 2923).
Zuma When he’s not busy being Man City’s only likeable player, goalkeeper Joe Hart likes to eat at Zuma, as do Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker. DIFC (04 425 5660).
Three football-free options Hit a ladies’ night Every weeknight (with the exception of Thursday), ladies get two free drinks at popular Italian bar Rosso, enabling you to catch up on the gossip when the boys are out to play. Sun-Wed 9pm-midnight. Amwaj Rotana, Dubai Marina (04 428 3088).
Three football-free options Splash at Wild Wadi Throughout June and July, splash-tastic waterpark Wild Wadi is off limits to gents on weekend evenings. Sweet relief for female football-sick souls. Dhs205 (women), Dhs165 (children under 1.1m tall). Thu-Fri 8pm-1am. Wild Wadi, Jumeirah (04 348 4444).
Where to watch Euro 2012 Barasti Beach Stadium Screens: One giant 4m x 3m screen, plus a dozen smaller screens dotted about. Capacity: 800. Deals: Expect all of Barasti’s in-house deals to apply, including the weekday happy hour (30 percent off from 4pm to 7pm), and half-price deals from noon to 4pm at weekends. Atmosphere: Two years ago, Barasti’s World Cup tent attracted a healthy mix of chilled fans and die-hards. Best for: Mixed groups. Free entry. Open daily 11am-2am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi (04 399 3333).
Where to watch Euro 2012 Emirates Golf Club ‘Football Central’ Screens: 15. Capacity: 400. Deals: Special football packages start from Dhs290 for a table for four. This includes a snack platter and eight drinks vouchers. Atmosphere: Its location away from the city means this is one for more refined footie fans. Best for: Families and individuals who want to avoid more rowdy venues. Free entry. Opens two hours before the first match of the day. Emirates Hills, www.dubaigolf.com (04 417 9999).
Where to watch Euro 2012 Golden Foot Mega Tent Screens: Four large projection screens and 16 smaller screens. Capacity: 2,000. Deals: Deals: Expect daily offers on food and drink. Details were yet to be confirmed as we went to print, but there should be some enticing offers on hops. Atmosphere: This is one of the biggest party venues, with pre- and post-match competitions, live bands and DJs every night (including international talents such as Sasha on Friday June 29). Best for: Casual fans who want to get swept up in the party atmosphere. Free entry. Open daily 6pm-3am. Dubai International Marine Club (056 206 7975).
Where to watch Euro 2012 Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel Screens: Two 4.5m x 3 screens. Capacity: 450. Deals: Dhs175 will buy you a bucket of beverages and access to live cooking stations. Atmosphere: England 1966 legend Sir Geoff Hurst and pundit Ron Atkinson will be hanging around for some of the tournament. There’ll also be competitions to win ’66 World Cup replica England shirts and more. Best for: Those eager to watch games in distinguished company. Free entry. Open daily 6pm-1am. Ibn Battuta, www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 444 5613).
Where to watch Euro 2012 The Irish Village tent Screens: The IV claims to have the biggest screens in town, with the largest of the four measuring 10m x 6m. Capacity: 2,800. Deals: We’re promised early-bird bucket deals and daily international food menus to reflect who’s playing on the day. Score! Atmosphere: DJ Marky Mark will be spinning before and after games. Best for: Traditional types who’ve been watching every game at the IV since it opened 15 years ago. Free entry. Open Sun-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Sat 11am-2am. Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud (04 282 4750).
Three football-free options Join a sports team Sick of football but want to get sporty? Join a sports team. There are loads of indoor leagues starting in June, such as golf coaching (Tuesday June 5) and Super 8s cricket (Wednesday June 13). See the website for the full list. www.duplays.com.