No smoking bars in Dubai

Time Out lists 15 of the best no smoking bars in Dubai, from Marina to JLT, Downtown to JBR, and including several new bars in Dubai and sports bars

One of the first things anyone new to Dubai will notice is how smoking remains so present in everyday life.

Unlike the majority of Europe, America and beyond, lighting up in public places is not frowned upon in Dubai, let alone banned. And because of the low tobacco taxation, buying a pack of 20 cigarettes here is cheaper than in most places in the world.

Trying to quit after moving to Dubai can also prove a tough task, a bit like trying to nail water to a wall, with most people conceding defeat. But it seems the tide is turning and the smoky mist could soon be lifted as the government pushes for a blanket ban in public places.

To embrace this change of tact, we’ve scoured the city for some of the best smoke-free bars for you to enjoy.

04 448 1001 Dubai Land

Being so close to a FitRepublik gym, the international cricket stadium and football and rugby pitches, Kickers is usually filled with sporty types debriefing after a game over a few drinks or refuelling on the pub’s rather decent grub.

It’s also the main go-to for residents who live in the area, and so its three distinct spaces – inside the main bar, the huge seating area just outside the bar and the smaller terrace overlooking the pitches tend to be packed most nights.

Sports fans are catered for first and foremost here. Those who haven’t been playing a game are often here to watch one on the many big screens dotted about the space.

Local residents also come to take advantage of the good happy hour deal that offers a 33 percent discount on selected food and beverages.

And the grub is pretty good, too. With everything from spring rolls, prawn tempura, buffalo wings and sweet potato fries to a decent selection of sandwiches, burgers and wraps, plus larger plates such as massaman curry, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.

It’s well worth a visit, we’d say.

The bottom line
Worth checking out, sports fan or not.

04 552 4000 Palm Jumeirah

When Barrel 12 first opened it was a breath of fresh air for Palm drinking and dining spots. The sports bar has an industrial-type interior, plenty of big screens for sport, good deals and a menu of pub classics. Sitting on the main trunk of the Palm, just before the tunnel through to Atlantis, it operates outside of a hotel and was a hit with nearby residents.

Fast-forward a couple of years and the venue doesn’t quite have the same sheen. Not only is there now more competition (Club Vista Mare has its own trendy gastropub, The Tap House), but Barrel 12 seems to have let itself slide. The “exposed” décor is no longer a new thing here and the fixtures and fittings are all a bit worn. It all looks a little tired.

Staff are still friendly and enthusiastic (they extend the happy hour for us as we arrive a minute after it finishes at 7pm), and the prices are still keen if you take advantage of one of the many deals. However, the buzz has gone from the venue, with only a few other customers to be seen throughout our weeknight visit.

Barrel 12 is a decent bar that could do with an injection of life and a bit of TLC.

The bottom line
No longer a venue to make a trip to.

04 425 1000 Dubai Land

This bar at Ernie Els’ golf club is both quaint and ideally placed to be a great local for those who live in the neighbourhoods of Sports City, IMPZ, Motor City and Jumeirah Village Circle.

The bar overlooks the course, and the best way to make the most of the rolling green views (in cooler weather) is to take a seat out on the balcony. Inside, tables are spread out enough across the spacious interiors to give diners a decent level of privacy for a relaxed catch-up.

It’s a cosy familiar space, and the friendly, helpful staff here are some of the best around – within a few visits they’ll soon know your order and make you feel right at home.

Considering the bar sits in a luxury golf course, prices are pretty keen – you can get a glass of grape for Dhs45 and a pint for Dhs42. And during happy hour, from 5pm to 8pm during the week and from 12.30pm to 8pm at weekends, there's 33 percent off house drinks.

If you’re hungry, don’t miss South African staples such as boerewors and lamb shank bunny chow, plus game meats including guinea fowl and even ostrich.

Ernie Els’ Big Easy offers a laid-back introduction to the flavours of South Africa. Time to get acquainted.

The bottom line
A relaxed slice of the Southern Hemisphere.

04 449 8888 Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

For a bar named Soul, this venue sadly has little of it. It’s almost there, with one statement wall decorated in graffiti-esque art and its menu themed on three edgy neighbourhoods of New York – Little Italy, The Meatpacking District and Harlem – a clever way to pack in lots of varied and interesting dishes, but the rest of the décor, abundant in dark woods, grey, brown and red chairs, just feels a little pallid.

The bar area inside is small, but offers a nice break and a bit of separation from the rest of the restaurant indoors. Where this space comes into its own is outside, where comfy seats scattered about the pool make for a relaxed post-meal beverage or for a chilled end of week sundowner during happy hour, which runs from 6pm to 8pm every day and offers selected house beverages for Dhs25 each.

This isn’t a destination bar – we doubt you’d want to base an entire night out around it. But if you’re getting stuck into that NYC district-hopping menu, it’s a decent place to begin or end your meal.

Soul is a space to check out for a quiet drink in this bustling part of town.

The bottom line

Casual bar offering interesting variety.

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