Celebrate our 11th birthday with an alternative activity
Here at Time Out Dubai we believe pretty much any time is a good time for a party, but this week we have a particularly good excuse: the magazine celebrates its 11th birthday on Monday October 1. That makes us older than The Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah put together. Hopefully you’re also celebrating a special occasion soon – but before you book the standard brunch, take a look at our list of 55 new and unique ways to celebrate. We’ve made every effort to skirt the familiar, conventional party options, instead presenting a list of alternative venues, quirky ideas and unimagined suggestions. And if none of these take your fancy, we’ve also put together a guide detailing how to host your own party at home, covering every little detail from fancy dress to where to hire your cutlery. Party on!
Jump on a dhow in Dibba You and nine mates can jump on a single-deck dhow for a day and a night of partying off the Omani coast. Bring your own sleeping bags – pirate attire optional.
Perfect for… a big birthday bash. Dhs4,450 for ten guests, plus Dhs105 per person for catering. Sheesa Beach, Dibba, Oman, www.sheesabeach.com/dhow-cruises (+968 2683 6551).
Step aboard the GuGu boat This rather ridiculous floating Polynesian island is a great alternative to your average yacht or boat party – cruise the Marina as you celebrate in style.
Perfect for… an office party to remember. Dhs4,000 per hour for up to 90 people (soft drinks and crew included). Dubai Marina, email@example.com (050 188 9083).
Hire a cabana at Aquaventure Waterparks are fun: fact. They’re even more fun when you and your chums have a comfy cabana all to yourselves, featuring a table and chairs, shaded area, loungers, hammocks and bean bags, plus a complimentary fruit basket and free bottled water.
Perfect for… celebrating with visiting relatives. Dhs880 per cabana (accommodates up to eight people), plus standard admission price of Dhs225 per adult. 10am-sunset. Atlantis The Palm (04 426 1000).
Book a Gold Class cinema trip Vox Cinemas hires out its plush 40-seater Gold Class cinemas for parties, allowing you and your guests to recline in comfort. Request your favourite movie in advance and they’ll do their best to arrange a viewing.
Perfect for… a film buff’s birthday. Dhs120-140 per person. Vox Cinemas, Mirdif City Centre and Mall of the Emirates (04 294 0222 ext 202).
Go up in a balloon Now the weather’s cooling, balloon tours have restarted. Get up early and watch the sun rise over the desert – a spectacular way to mark a special occasion.
Perfect for… celebrating an anniversary with that special someone. Dhs995 per person. Pick-up 4.30am-5am, drop-off 8.30am-9am. www.arabiahorizons.com.
Hit Dubai Ice Rink Dubai Ice Rink’s ‘Disco Sessions’ feature flashing strobes and a resident DJ spinning chart tunes.
Hire Sega Republic Enjoy video games galore, from arcade-style fun to full-blown rides. Hire the entire 7,000 sq m space and there’s the option to incorporate a theme and catering.
Perfect for... birthday parties for teenagers (and young-at-heart gamers). Price on request. Sega Republic, The Dubai Mall, firstname.lastname@example.org (04 448 8484).
Take a masterclass in Thai cooking Thai Kitchen offers private cooking classes, and afterwards you can gobble the dishes you’ve made.
Perfect for… an anniversary treat. From Dhs350 per person. Sat noon-3pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 602 1804).
Party in private at Koreana This Korean restaurant serves authentic hot pot and barbecue dishes, and has private dining rooms that can cater for up to 30 people.
Perfect for… a convivial family get-together. From Dhs170 (hot pot for four). Open daily 11.30am-3.30pm, 6pm-11pm. Barsha, Dubai (04 392 9918).
Have a bar-game tournament Grab the troops and hit the The Locker Room, where you can play darts, pool and table football under one roof. Score!
Perfect for… boys-only birthdays. Free entry. Open daily 1pm-1am. Golden Tulip Al Barsha (04 341 7750).
Try the world’s highest afternoon tea The dainty little finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries, plus the awe-inspiring (and vertigo-inducing) views from the top of the Burj Khalifa, are sure to impress.
Perfect for… a mother-in-law-friendly hen party. Dhs290 (includes welcome mocktail). Daily 3pm-5pm. Ongoing. 122nd floor, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3828).
Race a fast car Mark a big occasion by getting behind the wheel of an Audi TT and flooring it at Dubai Autodrome.
Perfect for… your husband’s 40th birthday. From Dhs950. Audi Suite, Dubai Autodrome, Motor City (04 367 8700).
Cabaret at Tchaikovsky The food here is nothing special, but it will get you ready for the eye-popping main event: a bizarre but entertaining singing and dancing cabaret showcase.
Perfect for… a barmy 30th birthday. From Dhs250 for a meal for two. Open daily 6.30pm-3am. Marina Byblos Hotel, Dubai Marina (04 448 8222).
Turn your home into a Japanese soirée Throw a Japanese-inspired house party by serving a knockout sushi banquet catered by Sushi Counter.
Perfect for… an engagement announcement. From Dhs99 for a 24-piece platter. CNBC Food Court, Media City (04 375 1096).
Go paintballing Head down after dark with a group of friends, and expect to be utterly terrified. It doesn’t hurt… much.
Perfect for... Farewell parties (you can shoot everyone you never really liked anyway). Dhs90 per person, minimum 20 people for a private party. Pursuit Games Paintball Dubai, Oud Metha, next to Wonderland Park (04 324 4755).
Organise a Laserquest tournament Like paintballing, but without the bruises and multicoloured mess. Players compete in an arena designed to look like a medieval castle.
Perfect for... a corporate bash. From Dhs80 per person; group packages available. Laserdrome, Dubai Autodrome (04 367 8700 ext 322).
Barbecue on a donut Get aboard these floating donut-shaped boats for an afternoon of barbecuing and tucking into mezze in the sunshine. If you’re not confident of your cooking skills, you can also take a chef along for the ride.
Perfect for… a small-scale birthday do. From Dhs1,200 for six people. Daily noon-9pm. The Boardwalk, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Party Pinoy-style at Maharlika Want a night out but think you’ve seen it all before? Head off-radar and celebrate your special occasion at kooky Filipino nightclub Maharlika Café.
Perfect for… an alternative stag or hen party. Free entry. Open daily 6pm-3am. President Hotel, Karama (04 334 6565).
Karaoke at China Sea Rent one of the three private rooms for an evening of karaoke, but be sure to order from downstairs, not from the set menu, which isn’t as good.
Best for… a quirky leaving party. Dhs600 set menu charge per person for group of ten – if you choose to go for it. Open daily 11am-2am. Al Maktoum Street, Deira (04 295 9816).
Hit the stores with your friends and a personal shopper Clara Strambio offers personal shopping party packages at pre-determined venues, including lunch (and top style advice, of course). Make a day of it and batter your credit card with your friends (or even pets) in tow.
Arrive at a bar by boat 101 Dining Lounge and Bar on the Palm Jumeirah has recently pumped up its credentials by flying in New York DJ Yasa to provide the soundtrack. Get there by cruising in on the boat that departs regularly from Jetty Lounge at the One&Only Royal Mirage.
Perfect for… a sophisticated birthday soirée. Free. From 7pm. 101, One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1030).
Splash out on a day’s access to Meydan Beach This swanky new beach club at JBR features a gym, bar, a high-end Italian restaurant, and a rather nice pool.
Perfect for… a luxurious and lazy day-long anniversary celebration. Dhs500 per person per day. The Walk at JBR (04 433 3777).
Hire a table at a top club Party the Dubai way and get your own VIP table at award-winning club People by Crystal.
Perfect for… big, bling birthday groups. Dhs4,000 minimum spend per table. Open daily 9pm-3am. People by Crystal, Raffles Dubai (050 297 2097).
Organise a ten-pin-bowling contest Al Nasr’s old-school alley has a certain charm to fuel that competitive spirit. To help with the celebratory mood, it’s also licensed.
Perfect for… a pre-dinner birthday warm-up with the boys. Dhs100 per lane per hour (minimum six people). Open daily 4pm-midnight. Oud Metha (04 337 1234).
Try indoor skydiving Pretend to throw yourself out of a plane at iFly, which uses a huge wind tunnel to simulate the fall and keep you suspended in mid-air. It’s significantly cheaper that SkyDive Dubai, too.
Perfect for… thrill-seeking kids’ birthday bashes. Dhs195 for first-time flyers. iFly, Mirdif City Centre (04 231 6292).
Host a crazy golf comp Take on your mates at Jebel Ali Golf Resort’s quaint mini-golf course, and see who can nail the first hole in one.
Perfect for… a pre-stag party. Dhs20 per person. Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa (04 814 5555).
Hold a school-style sports day on the beach Relive your school sports days with friends, a picnic and a sack race.
Perfect for… a co-ed sporty birthday group. Dhs5. Jumeirah Beach Park, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2555).
A ‘rejuvenation party’ at ShuiQi Spa Book a relaxing spa day with four friends, complete with bubbly, chocolates, strawberries, massages and Botox.
Perfect for... a laid-back hen party. From Dhs1,999 per person. ShuiQi Spa, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 1020).
Book a party package at Ski Dubai Dubai’s mall-based snow dome offers a wide range of birthday packages for kids, which can also be adapted for adults. Try your hand at skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing or Zorbing – or just meet the friendly penguins.
Perfect for... winter celebrations (think Christmas or Thanksgiving). From Dhs200 per person, minimum 10 people. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (04 409 4000).
Race your mates in a kart Challenge your friends to a hair-raising chase around Dubai Kartdrome’s indoor or outdoor track (we recommend the outdoor circuit, especially after dark).
Perfect for... stag parties. From Dhs100 per person indoor, Dhs110 outdoor. Kartdrome, Dubai Autodrome, MotorCity (04 367 8744).
Try a home spa party Get some girlfriends together for a day of pampering in the comfort of your own home. There are a variety of services you can treat yourselves to, from reflexology to manicures and pedicures.
Perfect for... a baby shower. Manicures from Dhs60, minimum spend Dhs130-190 depending on location. Belle Femme at Home, various locations (04 454 8652).
Go dancing at Savage Garden There are Zouk lessons held every Sunday at 8pm and 9pm, but dancing is encouraged every night of the week.
Perfect for... a lively hen night. Free entry; classes Dhs40 per person. Capitol Hotel, Al Mina Road, Satwa (04 346 0111).
Throw a henna party Decorate your home with Arabian-inspired cushions, put on some Turkish treats and book an expert henna artist to decorate everyone’s hands and feet.
Perfect for... a girly birthday or sweet 16 party. Minimum spend Dhs200 for home henna services. Rachna Salon, Jumeirah (04 394 4489).
Venues for hire Amwaj Rotana The huge Sadaf ballroom offers space for up to 450 guests, making it perfect for big weddings and celebrations. Buffet from Dhs155 per guest, with a three-course meal for Dhs230. Wedding packages minimum spend Dhs17,000. JBR, Dubai Marina (04 428 2000).
Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa This old-school Deira hotel organises affordable packages for parties withing its two halls, with a capacity of up to 350. From Dhs85 per guest including food. Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai (04 351 9111).
Burj Al Arab If you think a once-in-a-lifetime day deserves a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can hire the Burj Al Arab’s 400-capacity Viennese-themed ballroom. Dhs375 per guest including buffet. Jumeirah (04 301 7777).
Canvas and Wood Make an impression by hiring your own wooden tipis, offering both an atmospheric evening and a bed for the night. Prices vary. www.canvas-and-wood.com.
Chillout Ice Bar This café, made entirely of ice, is ideal for quirky, unusual parties. The price includes one hot drink per person – the venue can accommodate up to 30 people seated, or 50 standing. Private hire from Dhs2,000. Times Square Centre, Al Quoz (04 341 8121).
Desert Fish art gallery Desert Fish has just opened a new black-and-white Cubist-inspired space, The Cartell. It can hold up to 400 people. Approximately Dhs15,000 for 24 hours. Al Quoz (055 995 5118).
Mövenpick Ibn Batutta Gate This huge hotel caters for groups of all shapes and sizes, with 13 different spaces available to hire. Like the rest of the hotel, they’re themed on the travels of explorer Ibn Batutta. Dhs150 per head. Ibn Batutta (04 444 0000).
Movida ‘Dubai’s most exclusive club’ is only open to the public three nights a week, making it the perfect place to host a bash that goes off with a bang between Saturday and Tuesday. It has a capacity of 600. Dhs30,000 for three hours. Radisson Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.movida-club.com (055 174 4449).
Talise Ottoman Spa It’s possible to rent out an entire floor of this luxury spa for pampering and relaxation aplenty. Dhs20,000 for 20 people. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0000).
Toro Toro This trendy South American bar and restaurant has two neat spaces for small parties, with private enclaves for six to eight guests and an exclusive grape cellar for up to 12. No extra charge, menu à la carte. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Equipment hire Big up your house party with professional help…
Certainment Offers furniture, props, décor, marquees and more. Party services from Dhs150 per guest. Office 1302, Gold Crest Executive Towers, JLT (04 447 3137).
Events Master This company can arrange tables, chairs, bars and crockery for events, as well as special decor for occasions such as Halloween and baby showers. Call for prices. Jebel Ali Industrial Zone 1. www.events-master.com (050 77 04032).
Fun City Offers games, prizes, balloons, meals, decorations and rides – as well as a clean-up service to help get things back to normal after your bash. From Dhs55 per guest. Locations across the UAE. www.funcity.ae.
Entertaining options Hire the right people to make your party rock…
Dubai Wedding Singer A pro singer, guitarist and saxophonist for all your wedding needs. Price depends on package. www.dubaiweddingsinger.com (050 585 0432).
Jam Artists From DJs and sound systems to full orchestras, this company offers a range of entertainment for different occasions. DJ packages from Dhs3,500. www.jam-artists.com (02 627 5356).
James Harrington Illusionist ‘The Gentleman of Magic’ astonishes with all sorts of trickery and tomfoolery. James Harrington Magic LLC, Unit P12 JBR, www.james-harrington.com (056 690 8911).
Costume hire Find the perfect fancy-dress outfit…
Mr Ben’s Costume Closet Whether you want to dress up as a pirate or a princess, there’s an array of one-off costumes for hire and to buy at Dubai’s ultimate costume parlour. Al Ghazal Mall, Satwa (04 345 3577).
The Party Centre Offers everything from balloons, and classy masquerade masks to tacky wigs. Garhoud, opposite Welcare Hospital (04 283 1353).
Party Universe A treasure trove of children’s costumes for parties and Halloween. Building 5, Gold and Diamond Park (04 380 4848).
Kids’ parties Keep them quiet for a couple of hours…
Dubai Aquarium Spend 45 minutes in the tunnel and zoo before being escorted to the private party room for another 45 minutes. Dhs90 per child, with one adult free for every eight children. The Dubai Mall (04 448 5200).
Hey Sugar Hey Sugar’s Mix, Batter and Bake packages offer three hours of cookie and cupcake decorating, balloon arrangement, painting, a free meal, a photo and more. Dhs200 per child (minimum ten children). Various locations including Dubai Marina (04 435 6871).
thejamjar Let up to 30 kids loose with paints, easels and canvases at this art gallery. Dhs100 per person for two hours. Al Quoz (04 341 7303).