Who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition? Whether you like to unwind after work over a game of pool, want to prove you’re better than Gary at bowling (who, if you’re honest, has wound you up ever since he moved out here) or just want somewhere to play PS4 with a pint, these 16 nightspots have you covered.
Al Nasr Leisureland
The bowling alley at Al Nasr Leisureland (Dubai’s oldest theme park, though that’s a term we use loosely) isn’t technically a bar, but it’s still licensed, meaning you can order a drink while you bowl a few strikes. There are eight lanes, it’s open late, and should you get bored there’s also an ice-rink, arcade and a couple of interesting restaurants and bars with live shows – including Filipino club Odd Spot and Indian restaurant Moghul Room.
Open 9am-midnight. Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha, Dubai (04 337 1234).
More than simply an American-style bar, Claw has a private dining room for hire (The Barn) crammed with dart boards, foosball, hops pong and retro arcade games that you can play while listening to jukebox hits. If you don’t have a big enough party to book out The Barn, you can always challenge your colleagues to a board game – Trivial Pursuit, Operation and more are on offer, too.
Open daily noon-2am. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
Crown & Lion
This Britter-than-British pub takes pool seriously, often holding competitions with trophies and cash prizes for those with an extra-competitive streak. There are chalk boards for tallying up scores and two dart boards if pool isn’t your thing. This is all not to mention the huge number of screens showing sports and the great range of deals on offer such as fish and chips with a pint for Dhs85.
Open daily 11am-3am. Byblos Hotel, Barsha Heights (04 448 8000).
Freddy’s Restocafé Bowling
Al Nasr Leisureland doesn’t have the only licensed bowling alley in town. Freddy’s – sequestered away behind the airport in the depths of Al Qusais, but worth a visit – is an emporium of bar games with everything from bowling, arcades and air hockey, to PS4s, foosball and chess. Large groups can also book self-serving hops tables, complete with a five-litre keg.
Open daily noon-3am. Dubai Grand Hotel by Fortune, Damascus Street, Al Qusais (055 458 6800).
Jebel Ali Recreation Club
This much-loved institution is about to undergo a massive revamp, but there’s still time to visit the original before it gets flattened to make way for a huge new complex. Knuckle down to some pool or darts while sipping bargain hops and stick some tunes on the jukebox, too.
Open daily 10am-midnight. Jebel Ali Village (04 549 5100).
Without doubt one of the sportiest places in Dubai, Kickers is surrounded by footie pitches and tennis and courts. If you don’t fancy watching live sports on the many TV screens dotted around the venue, you can turn your hand to pool or foosball. And there are even six chess tables if you want to test your tactical skills.
Open daily 3pm-midnight. Football Zone, Sports Village, Dubai Sports City (04 448 1001).
Lock, stock & barrel
Time Out Dubai’s Bar of the Year 2017 didn’t win for nothing. It serves top-notch bar bites, has an excellent two-for-one happy hour deal (daily, 4pm to 8pm) and several pool tables downstairs and up on the Mezzanine level.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am; Fri 1pm-3am; Sat-Sun 2pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (04 514 9195).
We were excited to see this Downtown favourite open in Dubai Marina. It’s got the same friendly laid-back spirit, plus a load of extra entertainment in the form of pool tables, arcade games and a jukebox.
Open daily 4pm-2am. Address Dubai Marina (04 436 7777).
A jack-of-all-trades Media City spot, you can head here for a business lunch, relaxed meal, raucous party brunch or an extra-lively night out. One of the biggest draws is its multiple pool tables (which come with twinkling city views and blaring music once night falls), and lads can try its Wednesday night QPak deal from 5pm to 8pm, with two-for-one drinks, three dishes for Dhs99 and free pool.
Open Sun-Wed 11am-2am; Thu 11am-3am; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 443 5403).
Red – Hot & Chili
Gather a group of your best mates (or a team of your most competitive colleagues) and challenge them to a darts tournament. This funky, graffiti-sprayed sports bar houses a number of boards, as well as pool tables to indulge your need to win. With plenty of screens showing the game of the day, plus live music, your entire night out is catered for. Bottles of hops are priced from Dhs26 and draught pints from Dhs29. What more could you possibly ask for?
Open daily 4pm-2.30am. Donatello Hotel, Al Barsha (050 523 6780).
You’ll find Rodeo Drive hidden away at the side of Sheikh Zayed Road, in the same building as Stables and Fibber Magee’s. Here, you can play table football or hops pong, or have a go at beating the mechanical bull that takes centre stage, right in the middle of the room. Expect roof-shattering levels of noise, a live band belting out covers, an often rowdy crowd (especially on weekends) and deals on drinks.
Open 6pm-3am. Behind Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 386 9617).
Featuring a good pool table, darts and excellent pub grub (think mammoth bowls of fries, burgers and fish and chips), if you’re down Oud Metha way, this is an excellent pit stop to unwind over a bit of friendly competition. Its 13 screens show all sorts
of sport from NBA to F1 to the Premier League, too, so you can watch the game in between matches.
Open daily noon-3am. Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai (04 336 6000).
This retro spot needs little, if any, introduction. We’re sure you know by now that the bar and club has an entire room dedicated to old-school arcade games so you can street fight your way into the early hours.
Open daily 6pm-3am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (052 618 2424).
This casual, graffitied sports bar houses three full-sized ten-ball tables that attract a crown on busy evenings. That means, though, that you’re guaranteed a good atmosphere, making it a great option for anyone who likes flexing their pool cues in front of a crowd. One of the tables is the master’s table, where the winner stays on (the matches can even be screened at the island bar and in the karaoke lounge). Alternatively, pop in for a pint and try your luck at the big wheel of fortune, where you can spin to win all sorts, from burgers and brunches to beverages.
Open daily 5pm-2am. Oasis Beach Tower, The Walk, JBR (04 399 8993).
One to put on hold until the weather cools down a bit, this al fresco spot is the kind of place where you can kick back on a bean bag and face off against a total stranger at console games on the big screen. Or, spend a few hours trying to 1up yourself in retro game Super Mario on the smaller screens by the bar. There’s a food truck, canal views and great bar food to boot.
Open Sun-Thu 5pm-3am; Fri-Sat noon-3am. Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay (050 213 5816).
Upstairs at McGettigan’s DWTC is The Den, which is full of pool tables, at only Dhs6 a game, too. If you fancy yourself the next Ronnie O’Sullivan, turn up on a Tuesday evening for their Man of the Match competition when you can battle it out against other regulars and get two-for-one deals on drinks from 8pm to 11pm.
Open Sun-Thu 3pm-2am; Fri-Sat noon-2am. McGettigan’s DWTC, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 6247).
The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill
This sporting institution has what you need to get through the evening, with a pool table surrounded by more than a dozen screens showing the latest match. That’s not to mention the sprawling menu of food and drinks at very reasonable prices, and great service from helpful staff. It’s the kind of place you could end up spending an entire day at, before you’ve even realised it.
Open daily noon-3am. Citymax Hotels Al Barsha (04 409 8018).