Dubai New In Town
Newcomers unite to get a feel for the city, from checking out the nightlife to indulging in a spot of desert drumming. The group is happy to organise small-scale events for the very-new-and-overwhelmed.
If you’ve just arrived here, it might be a good idea to join this large online community of English-speaking expats. It’s a fantastic web-based pool of resources, where people post ‘how-to’ documents on topics as varied as how to plan a wedding here, or what to do on a humid Dubai evening. You can post any questions you may have, too.
Social Circles Dubai
You will find loads of social groups on here, created for anyone from scuba diving addicts to people hooked on high heels.
For women only
Dubai International Women’s Club
Ladies from 40 different nationalities interact and find friendship at this club, which was founded 40 years ago. It was first set up for women whose husbands had joined the oil industry (and thus was originally branded ‘The Petroleum Wives Club’), but now welcomes all women.
Call Marzie Polad on 050 659 1300 or email email@example.com
Dubai Ladies’ Club
A proud member of the Dubai Women’s Establishment, the Dubai Ladies' Club has been around for decades. Women can make the most of tennis courts and the ladies-only private beach, as well as take part in creative workshops at the art ventre.
Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 9922; www.dubailadiesclub.com)
These classes teach the peaceful, 600-year-old Japanese art of ‘flower positioning’. Lessons are for women only and, as well as picking up a new skill, you’ll hopefully pick up a few new pals, too.
Meets opposite the Syrian Consulate in Al Waheda, Deira, on Tue, Wed and Thu. Dhs60 for one lesson, Dhs100 for two. 04 262 0282
International Business Women’s Group
Learn from women at the top of their game by joining in their regular networking events. It has been supporting businesswomen in the country for more than 25 years, and annual membership costs Dhs300.
Organising girlie outings, from a night down the pub to hop on/hop off trips aboard the metro.
Join at www.socialcirclesdubai.com/group/ladiesgroup
For those with niche interests
Dubai Coffee Meet-up Group
Meetings tend to take place at new coffee joints around Dubai, and the group has even had a professional barista to teach members how to prepare the perfect espresso.
Dubai Wargames/ Boardgames Group
Make friends and conquer countries with this group of gamers, who meet around The Meadows area. Whether you know your wargames (think PanzerBlitz and Twilight Struggle), enjoy a good Eurogame (Powergrid and Settlers of Catan) or know nothing about any of this but fancy finding out, the group welcomes everyone. Tactics and strategy will be the mainstay of whatever game you play, but this is meant to be a fun, relaxed way to make friends – not enemies, ol’ Joe Competitive over there.
Gulf For Good
For adventure with a touch of the feel good, why not sign up for a sponsored trek with Gulf For Good? Expeditions tend to take place in the same country as the chosen charity, so you’ll not only hook up with a cross-section of Dubai’s adventurous types, you might find yourself meeting those you’re helping, too.
04 368 0222; www.gulf4good.org
Law of Attraction
If you’re a fan of the The Secret and Abraham Hicks, this is the group for you. With motivational speakers and lively discussions, the group is for people committed to self-development and you’ll have the opportunity to meet lots of positive and enthusiastic people in the city.
Shisha Without Frontiers
These hubbly bubbly lovers go wherever there is shisha, and then relax, chat and puff the night away.
Volunteer in Dubai
There are many places you can volunteer your time and effort in the city, and if you don’t know where to start, look this group up. Members are notified every time volunteers are needed and, though opportunities are not very regular, you could get to meet new people while doing some good for the community.
Wizards Of The Gulf Coast
This group of gamers is more about card games than dressing up (boo!). Meeting at the Rydges Plaza Hotel in Satwa for bi-weekly tournaments, a group of 60-or-so ‘wizards’ play Magic: The Gathering – a fantasy card game.
Dubai Natural History Group
If you’re into your flora and fauna and want to meet like-minded types, as well as learn a little something, join this group of environment fans.
Call Valerie Chalmers on 04 349 4816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emirates Environmental Group
EEG is devoted to protecting the UAE’s environment through education and community involvement. Volunteer, meet fellow eco-warriors and save the planet.
04 344 8622; www.eeg-uae.org
Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF
Involved in everything from coral conservation to saving the turtles, EWS-WWF's mission is to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable living. Volunteer for their many causes and you’ll make new friends while also saving the world.
04 3405720; uae.panda.org
For entertainers Dubai Harmony Chorus
This all-female, four-part harmony chorus is always on the look-out for new singers. Give them a call and get in sync.
Rehearsals at Jumeirah Primary School. 056 690 7052; email@example.com or call
Dubai Drama Group
Fraternise with fellow thesps and indulge in a little community theatre, with the group presenting plays in the city for more than 25 years now. There are a number of productions every year, with regular monthly social events that’ll see you spewing Shakespeare with people who’ll appreciate it.
They hold regular Monday night djembe drumming classes at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre at Mall of the Emirates, as well as a drumming event every full moon from October to May that’s fun for the whole family.
050 659 2874; dubaidrums.com
Dubai Pipe Band
An international blend of bagpipers and drummers from Scotland, South Africa, Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand. Join in and get your pipe on.
Dubomedy Arts offers professional training in the serious business of comedy, improvisation, writing and even basic circus skills. There are classes that are great if you just want to tickle your funny bone or go right out and break a leg on stage.
Dubai Page Turners
This all-female book club meets every three to four weeks, and members are aged between 20 and 40. They’re looking for people who can commit – no time wasters (or page procrastinators), please!
Dubai Writers' Group
This group is all about sharing ideas with fellow pensmiths to get started in writing. There are special events, like meeting with industry insiders to get tips, or they’ll just hang out to discuss projects and offer each other advice. This is very much a social group, but they’re serious about writing, too – newbies are asked to bring along samples of their work when they join.
This bilingual book club reads works that are available in English and Arabic, making for a good mix of members. Meets monthly at various locations, with the reading list published on the blog.
For film fanatics
Dubai Indie Film Group
Film fans and aspiring filmmakers mingle once a month to enthuse about film and discuss upcoming projects. There’s the odd short film screening, too.
This informal group of movie lovers takes regular trips to the cinema, sometimes enjoying a post-film discussion afterwards.
The Scene Club
Meeting on the last Thursday of every month, it’s one of the few places to see independent world cinema in Dubai. There’s free popcorn and soft drinks, too, so you can meet and munch with lots of other world cinema fans.
For sporty types
Al Boom Diving
As well as organising group dives both on the edge of the city and in neighbouring areas, there’s a regular social event too. And if you always wanted to dive into a huge aquarium in the middle of the world’s largest shopping mall (who doesn’t?), they’ll show you how.
04 342 2993; alboomdiving.com
Dubai Creek Striders
A running club focused on long-distance running. If you like pain, there’s plenty to gain. Join in with around 90 other runners.
Dubai Fencing Club
Don a daft mask and spend an hour or two stabbing someone with a sword at the Raffles International School. They have classes for amateurs right up to Olympic level.
050 794 4190; www.dubaifencingclub.com
Dubai Mighty Camels Ice Hockey Club
They win points just for the name, but if ice hockey’s your thing, why not join these friendly fanatics? Members gather from September to May and there’s an annual tournament in April, attracting ice hockey fans from all over the Gulf.
Dubai Netball League
Meeting at The Sevens stadium on Al Ain Road, the league has 250 players spread across three divisions, so there are literally hundreds of people to meet and varying levels of competitiveness. The league runs until April, and there are training schedules and socials as well as weekly matches.
Dubai Outdoors Club
If you like a bit of adventure, this is the group to join. Shunning AC-happy malls for the UAE’s more natural surroundings, this lot like pitching tents, scrambling over rocks and doing all sorts of other energetic and fun things.
This group of cyclists enjoys a spot of recreational pedalling around the city. There are weekly rides, tours through the desert and mountains, and even the occasional race. Get fit, see the UAE and meet dozens of other pedallers – perfect.
Dubai Women’s Football Association
Join a team in one of DWFA’s two annual leagues and show the boys how it’s done. The footie-mad femmes who play at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence weekly and they’re always on the look out for more players.
Safa Football Club
Safa Football Club aims to be the premier amateur football club in the UAE. They’re a multicultural bunch and they welcome varying standards, but players should be skilled enough to play competitively in the Dubai Amateur Football League.
Turn virtual into reality
There was a time that meeting people online was considered the domain of socially awkward types that couldn’t deal with the real world. Not anymore. Aside from the social networking site SocialCirclesDubai.com and the website Meetup.com that helps people with shared interests to form offline clubs, ie, in the real world, there are other offline socials for online socialisers.
Creative community space The Shelter in Al Quoz hosts this bi-monthly meet for bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and so on. Free, with good music, great coffee and a chance for online communities to meet face to face. Find out dates on the website's calendar.
A ‘Tweetup’ is defined as a ‘real-world’ meeting between people who know each other through Twitter. This is for Twitter users who live in Dubai, or are visiting or planning to visit the city, and want to meet up with other Dubai-based Twitter buddies.