Where to experience nightlife with an Arabian vibe in Dubai
Koubba All too often, Arabic-themed venues over-egg an idea. Throw too many lanterns, desert frescos, cushions and ornaments at a space and things start looking distinctly unclassy. Thankfully, this wasn’t lost on the designers of Madinat’s Koubba, which manages the rare feat of feeling Middle Eastern without any of the kitsch. If you’re looking for an alternative to some of Madinat’s busier offerings, head here. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, (04 366 6730).
Asateer tent (Atlantis) Mixing tradition with modernity isn’t always a bad thing, as proved by Atlantis The Palm’s vast beach-side tent. With plasma screens set up alongside more old-fashioned pursuits such as backgammon and cards tables, you can relax to the soothing sounds of the oud and monochord in a nostalgic Arabian atmosphere, or simply catch up on your favourite TV show. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0561).
MusicHall The Beirut institution’s Dubai branch has the familiar velvety opulence of its Lebanese sibling. Yet despite the Parisian burlesque decor, the venue has a distinctly Arabian flavour as during the season performers from across the Middle East hit the stage after sunset and vintage black and white images of the capitals of the Arab world adorn the walls. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (056 270 8670).
The Courtyard Located in The Palace at the luxurious One&Only, The Courtyard offers the sort of sanctuary that allows you to forget that you’re in Dubai. Yes, the mammoth towers of the Marina still impede on the skyline but, during the summer the hotel erects a temporary roof across the patio, allowing you to truly retreat from the outside reality in refined air-conditioned elegance. One&Only Royal Mirage, Jumeirah (04 399 9999).
Al Naai Chill Out Tent For a modern interpretation of a traditional majlis, the minimalist, sleek white furniture and vibrant splashes of colour at the Habtoor’s tent offer a suitably contemporary environment in which to spend an evening with your pals. It’s the sort of spot that wouldn’t look out of place in a Stanley Kubrick movie – praise indeed. The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
QDs (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club) Dubai’s nightspots have an abundance of spectacular views but one of our favourites is the Creekside vista at QDs. A popular destination for tourists and residents, the al fresco vibe is one of the most fun in the city. With the air filled with the scent of shisha and the chatter predominantly in Arabic, it’s a great spot to head to if you need to remind yourself you’re in the Middle East. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Moroc While the moniker may lack subtlety, the venue itself is a more understated nod to its North African namesake. With a selection of mezze, Arabic teas and shisha and the fact that it’s located in a Arabic-themed hotel (with countless lanterns hanging the lobby), Moroc is not a bad bet if you fancy a restrained taste of the Orient. Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate, The Gardens (04 444 0000).
Levantine Overlooking the Arabian Gulf, incongruously for Atlantis, Levantine has a timeless quality. Unashamedly relaxed, despite its location in a vast testament to modernity, the venue has a cosseting and relaxed atmosphere along with impeccable service; you could almost be anywhere in the Middle East. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, (04 426 2626).
Al Majilis Madinat If you’re familiar with the term glamping, then you’ll know that tents don’t always have to be austere affairs. A point that can certainly be proved by this sumptuous nightspot at the Madinat. As vast as it is opulent, it achieves a balance between feeling simultaneously contemporary and traditional – a perfect sojourn in secluded splendour. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, (04 366 6730).
Sunken Garden Surrounded by the concrete towers of the chic and modern Ritz-Carlton is an al fresco oasis of tranquillity. Fully air conditioned, with palm trees and the sound of water trickling in the background, there’s an almost magical atmosphere once the sun sets and people start turning up for shisha or some food, which incidently is also well worth checking out. The Ritz-Carlton DIFC, (04 372 2222).