Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards 2019: Winners and Highly Commended

These are officially the best places to go out in Dubai

Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards 2019: Winners and Highly Commended

Partygoers of Dubai, we present to you the best nights out in the city, 2019. Whether you’re looking to strut your stuff in a super-club, scream along to Bohemian Rhapsody, rock out to the best bands around or simply go for a quiet drink at the most picturesque spot in town, we’ve got you covered. Here are the winners of the Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards 2019.

VENUES

Best Mixed Drinks Bar

Winner: Masti
This brand-new category for 2019 is all about recognising the growing number of spectacular mixed drinks bars you’ll find in Dubai. This La Mer two-level Indian spot has some pretty special drinks on its menu (as you’d expect), as well as some beachfront vibes at sunset. A must for residents and tourists alike.
Open Sat-Wed noon-midnight, Thu-Fri noon-2am. La Mer South, Jumeirah 1 (800 62784).

Highly commended: Carnival by Trèsind
A quirky Indian restaurant and bar that delivers some truly inventive mixed drinks (and heaps of dry ice) that you’ll want to
hurry to after work in DIFC. Mixed drink from a (plastic) skull, popcorn basket or woven bag, anyone?
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Burj Daman, DIFC (052 242 4262).

Highly commended: Gold on 27
An opulent, gold-laden bar on (you guessed it) the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. As well as the exclusive vibe and the views out across Jumeirah from floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s an interesting menu of drinks under the labels Old and New Dubai, featuring local ingredients, with a sprinkle of (again, you guessed it) edible gold.
Open daily 6pm-2am. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 301 7600).

Best Live Music venue

Winner: Q’s Bar & Lounge
As far as we’re concerned there’s absolutely nothing to stop you falling head over heels in love with this utterly charming jazz bar that needs to be viewed as up there with the world’s very best. And what else would you possibly expect, what with Q’s being the first live music bar opened by the legendary composer, producer, conductor and artist that is Quincy Jones? There’s live music five nights a week, international acts hand-picked by the great man himself for long-term residencies at this gorgeous, dark, intimate jazz bar.
Show times vary. Open Tue-Sat 7pm-2am. Palazzo Versace Dubai, Al Jaddaf (04 556 8865).

Highly commended: Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR – The Walk
A cavernous bar that’s good at practically everything it does. Sport? You got it. Bar food? Pass us the nachos. Live music? Of course. There’s live music every weekend with resident bands playing some of the greatest rock hits of all time. It’s huge, it’s fun, it has a cracking post-brunch party (more on that later) and there’s a decent happy hour.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am, Sat-Sun 2pm-3am. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 392 7120).

Highly commended: PizzaExpress Live
A new opening in 2018 from the global pizza franchise, and the second live music venue for the chain here in Dubai. This Business Bay spot saw Newton Faulkner and other top acts hit the stage in 2018 – with the former calling it one of the most professional setups he’s ever seen. And it shows: this place is perfectly tuned for live music.
Open daily noon-1am. DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay (04 566 5722).

Best Sports Bar

Winner: Barrels
What’s not to enjoy when you can catch a match with a pint for Dhs21? But this comprehensive sports bar in Bur Dubai has more than just the cheap hops string to its bow. There are a dozen screens lining the walls beaming out the match, you can request your favourite team’s match to be shown, there’s free pool during happy hour and there’s even a PlayStation that comes complete with its own private (and enormous) screen. We’ll see you there at kick-off.
Open daily noon-3am. Majestic City Retreat Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 501 2533).

Highly commended: Goodfellas
The fan pub for The Dubai Reds – the official home of Liverpool FC fans in Dubai – this Barsha Heights bar has plenty of screens lining its narrow walls, a couple of free-to-play pool tables and loads of memorabilia from heroes of a bygone era.
Open daily noon-3am. Ramee Rose Hotel, Barsha Heights (04 450 0111).

Highly commended: The Red Lion
The current Red Lion is the remodelling of one of Dubai’s oldest pubs. It may be newer now, but the vibe remains the same, and it’s still a top place to watch the match thanks to loads of screens dotted around the place. You may want to avoid The Red Lion if you’re a Liverpool sympathiser, since this is home to the other reds – Manchester United.
Open daily noon-3am. Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 0000).


Best All-American Bar

Winner: Stars ’N’ Bars
If you’re paying a visit to the city’s best Mixed Drinks Bar (see Masti, a little bit earlier), then you might want to combine your visit with a jaunt over to this fantastic American bar, also in La Mer. When you’re not trying to beat your high score on the many free-to-play arcade machines, you could go grab a contactless card and pour your own pint (you will be judged on your skills, mind) then kick back and catch the sport on the many screens dotted around the central bar. There are also regular live music sets, as well as brunches, happy hours and ladies’ nights to try.
Open Sat-Tue noon-2am, Wed-Fri noon-3am. La Mer North, Jumeirah 1 (04 349 9903).

Highly commended: Black Tap
This is an awesome American import that specialises in craft hops from around the world – but specifically the East Coast of the USA. It has some banging New York beats to go alongside your drink, and some deliciously belt-busting burgers that pay homage to the greats you’ll find at the NYC mothership of this cracking bar.
Open daily 11.30am-12.30am. Jumeirah Al Naseem, Umm Suqeim (04 422 9904).

Highly commended: Perry & Blackwelder’s
If you’re heading to Souk Madinat Jumeirah then this all-American bar has got a bit of everything going on. You’ll find Madinat waterway views, decent daily drinks deals to go alongside some magnificently US-style grub including gooey mozzerella sticks and juicy, tangy wings.
Open daily noon-2am. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6197).


Best In-Bar Entertainment

Winner: The 44
If having a couple of quiet bevvies isn’t enough excitement for you, then there’s nowhere in town with a greater variety of bar sports than this lofty bar found at Al Habtoor City. The best part? There’s a bowling alley running along the side of the bar, which while not cheap to play does hold the title of the highest bowling alley in the world. It’s also home to pool tables, darts, an outdoor terrace and loads of big screens for the sport.
Open daily noon-2am. Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City (054 581 1758).

Highly commended: Lucky Voice
Karaoke every single night of the week, and two dedicated weekly brunches reserved exclusively for the age-old tradition of
going hoarse while screaming into a microphone. Encore…?
Open Sat-Thu 5pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (800 58259).

Highly commended: Rodeo Drive
Dig out that Stetson, it’s time to head to the rodeo. Because where else in town could you possibly hope to play a game of hops pong followed by a ride on a bucking bronco mechanical bull? Nowhere, ’nuff said.
Open Sat-Thu 6pm-3am, Fri noon-3am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (054 417 7028).


Best Party Brunch

Winner: Dare to Brunch at STK JBR
Staff dancing on the tables? Live jazz saxophonists? Nighclub vibes? Pumping music? Juicy, tasty fillet steaks? At STK’s Dare to Brunch you’ll find all of the above and more (and a side of mac ’n’ cheese). Gather a group of mates – make sure you book in advance, this one gets busy – and hotfoot it to this party-loving steakhouse. It’s fun, it’s lively and it’s one to get dressed up for.
Dhs399 (soft drinks), Dhs549 (house beverages), Dhs599 (sparkling), Dhs699 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-4pm and 8pm-11pm. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 323 0061).

Highly commended: Dim Sum Disco
When it comes to party brunches, the Candypants offering at Maiden Shanghai is all that and dim sum (see what we did there?). Just don’t actually expect dumplings of any description to make it onto your plate. What you can expect, though, is an array of tasty Chinese grub to be served to you at the table, while giant East Asian dragons are paraded nearby. It’s legendary among party brunches and you’ll find it hard not to get carried away.
Dhs395 (house beverages). Fri 1pm-4pm. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 455 9989).

Highly commended: Jazz@PizzaExpress
Get ready for a lively affair that sees diners tossing dough balls to the wind (not literally – are you mad? What a waste), leaping out of their seats and taking to the floor to let loose to some of the best live music in the city. The Thursday night shindig in JLT offers unlimited sharing starters, a main each (from standard PizzaExpress fare) and unlimited drinks. It gets lively, so bring your dancing shoes.
Dhs150 (soft drinks), Dhs225 (house beverages), Dhs250 (bubbly). Thu 8pm-11pm. Jazz@PizzaExpress, Cluster A, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 441 6342).


Best Rooftop Bar

Winner: The Penthouse
Because where else in town could claim to have a better rooftop al fresco bar experience than this simply magnificent terrace bar on Palm Jumeirah? It has what can only be described as the best views of Dubai from a bar, with the Dubai Marina skyline on one side and the Jumeirah coast on the other. Get your phone into selfie mode and get your new profile pic sorted. It also serves up cracking food, a top ladies’ night and a Saturday pool party brunch. What more do you want?
Open Sat-Wed noon-3am, Thu-Fri noon-5am. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai (052 900 4868).

Highly commended: folly by Nick & Scott
This charming rooftop terrace at the restaurant from top chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price provides stunning views, especially at sunset. With a happy hour menu, a new ladies’ night and friendly staff, it’s an excellent place for an al fresco drink. The inside is cool enough, sure, but it’s all about the many terraces at this swanky spot that has not one, not two, but three bars. Jackpot.
Open daily noon-3am. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 430 8535).

Highly commended: Luna Sky Bar
This gorgeous bar in DIFC is one of the most romantic spots around if you’re after an open-air drink amid the skyscrapers as the sun goes down. If you’re in the surrounding neighbourhoods for dinner (or just finished work) then drop by for an aperitif (you’ll get some free snacks with every drink, too) and admire the views.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Four Seasons Hotel DIFC (04 506 0000).


Best Restaurant Bar

Winner: Zuma
Although Zuma is best known for its excellent  Japanese fusion food (it’s world-famous, after all) in the past year Zuma has expanded its lounge area to include an outdoor terrace lined with vibrant sofas. Head here post-work, pre-dinner, after dinner or following brunch and you’ll always find a charming spot. Service is as slick as the mixology and the music, and you’ll find the place packed pretty much every night of the week.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).

Highly Commended: La Carnita
A relative newcomer to the Dubai Marina scene, this Canadian import has made a big impression with its enormous range of agave-based beverages and bartenders who really know their stuff. Funky, industrial and with some seriously comfy bar seats, come for one and you’ll struggle to leave.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-1am, Thu 6pm-2am, Fri 12.30pm-2am, Sat 12.30pm-1am. InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 425 4030).

Highly Commended: Morimoto
There isn’t nearly enough noise being made about the terrace at this restaurant from “Iron Chef” Masuharu Morimoto, which is easily one of the venue’s greatest assets. Inventive mixed drinks and candlelit tables are paired with brilliant views of the towering Burj Khalifa (and an order of the tuna pizza, if you know what’s good for you).
Open Sat-Thu 6pm-midnight, Fri 12.30pm-2am. Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Business Bay (04 512 5577).


Best Late-Night Dinner

Winner: Bistrot Bagatelle
If you’re the kind of person who normally makes dinner reservations for 10pm, you already know about Bagatelle. If you’re not, chances are you’ve missed out on one of the liveliest meals of your Dubai dining career. It’s time to neck an espresso and get down to this French restaurant, which goes from relaxed bistro (don’t miss the escargot) to dancing on chairs as the hour grows late. Amusez-vous bien!
Open daily 8pm-2am. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 354 5035).

Highly Commended: La Cantine Du Faubourg
Cool lounge vibe, sprawling terrace and live entertainment – La Cantine nails French chic. Then steps it up a notch. Book a table for 10pm when the restaurant really comes into its own, with singers and musicians wandering the room belting out upbeat tunes while you tuck into the sublime beef short rib.
Open Sun-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am, Sat noon-6pm, 8pm-2am. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, DIFC (04 352 7105).

Highly Commended: Miss Lily’s
Fusing dancehall vibes with Caribbean cafeteria décor, this seriously intimate, drop-dead-cool Jamaican restaurant is one of the funkiest joints in town. The music’s brilliant, the food is superb, and the drinks are a whole load of fun. Little wonder the atmosphere is absolutely buzzing.
Open Sat, Sun & Tue 7pm-1am; Mon 7pm-2am; Wed-Fri 7pm-3am. Sheraton Grand Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 356 2900).

Best After-Brunch Party

Winner: Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR – The Walk
It’s Friday, you’ve been to brunch in the afternoon and you’re looking for a bash that’s going to take you through the night in some style – where do you turn? Well if you’re after a rocking time that’s simply the best in town, the you need to head to this enormous rock bar in JBR, because when it kicks off in here on a Friday night there’s no better place to be. A daily happy hour that offers two-for-one on drink s, and live music from the Best Bar Band in Dubai – Gorgeous George.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am, Sat-Sun 2pm-3am. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 392 7120).

Highly commended: Barasti
An absolute stalwart of the Dubai nightlife scene, Barasti is both the after-party and the after-after-party. Pumping every Friday long into the night, there’s a good happy hour deal that runs through the early evening, but it kicks off when the DJs crank up the volume late into the night at this funky, fun-loving beach bar.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-1am, Thu-Fri 10am-2.30am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 318 1313).

Highly commended: Mr. Miyagi’s
Talking of places that go off the hook, this Asian-themed bar in Dubai Media City kicks off late in the evening. You’re likely to find crowds of partygoers queuing up for their turn on the hops pong tables, complete with UV blacklights for that extra special glow-in-the-dark vibe. Like a good, old sing-song? There’s karaoke, too.
Open daily 11am-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 420 7489).

Best Beach Bar

Winner: Palm Grill
Having recently renovated and massively improved its outside bar area, Palm Grill is an outstanding spot to head to during the non-summer months for a couple of bevvies and some superb sundowner action. Really, we couldn’t recommend it more. With views of the Arabian Gulf and Ain Dubai, you’ll forget all about your next deadline or unresponded-to email, and you can make pretend that you’re still on your holidays for a few hours – or, indeed, if you’re actually on holiday, enjoy, we’re not jealous at all...
Open daily noon-11pm. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 318 6150).

Highly commended: Key West
Name some box that needs checking for a top-notch beach bar and you’ll probably find most of them have been suitably checked at Key West. Found at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai at Pearl Jumeira, this spot has some super-tasty Caribbean bites to eat (it also won our Best Outdoor Restaurant 2019 award), some exotic mixed drinks and all those holiday feels. The sea views are unrivalled.
Open daily 5pm-11pm. Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, Pearl Jumeira (04 376 6000).

Highly commended: The Beach House
If you’re on the Palm, this is the sundowner spot you’ve been searching for. It’s classy, elegant, but also totally flip flop-friendly, so pretentiousness isn’t a problem. Bag yourself a low-slung sofa, kick back and enjoy the view from one of the most chilled-out bars you’ll find in this part of town.
Open daily noon-1.30am. Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Palm Jumeirah (04 567 8999).


Beach Club of the Year

Winner: Nikki Beach Dubai
It’s the sleekest, shiniest, whitest and beachiest of beach clubs in Dubai this year. Partially submerged sunlounger? Oh, go on then – but without using further rhetorical questions this club does throw a heaving bash on a regular basis, including the global brand’s famous white party. So whether you’re chilling at the beach, in the pool or boogying down on the sands of Pearl Jumeira, there’s nowhere better in town to spend the day partying in the sun than here.
Open daily 11am-9pm. Nikki Beach Dubai Resort & Spa, Pearl Jumeira (04 376 6162).

Highly commended: DRIFT Beach
Beach – check. Pool – check. Gorgeous view of Dubai Marina skyline – check. There’s little this beach club in New Dubai doesn’t do well, and it’s a lovely spot for a day spent reclining in the sunshine. The Marina views are great and the vibe is exclusive.
Open daily 10.30am-7.30pm. One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh (04 315 2200).

Highly commended: Soho Beach
It might not technically be on a beach but this is a beach club – and a banging one at that. A huge, chilled central pool is accompanied by a swim-up bar, loads of private (but free to use) plunge pool-meet-Jacuzzis and sun loungers. And there are some absolutely mega Ibiza parties here on a monthly basis – a must-visit.
Open Tue & Fri, noon-11pm. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (052 433 3375).


Best New Nightlife Venue

Winner: SoBe
Get ready to be seriously impressed, and don’t even think about complaining about the journey time round the crescent. This swanky new bar is a magnificent new addition that’s seen Palm Jumeirah’s nightlife scene level up in recent months. Instantly popular among residents, this rooftop bar at W Dubai – The Palm has some incredible views, Miami vibes (with its name coming from the city’s South Beach), palm trees, pinball machines, neon lights and funky tunes. It also has some decent bar food and friendly waiting staff ready to have a bit of a laugh. Top notch – a must visit.
Open Sat-Tue 4pm-1am, Wed-Fri 4pm-4am. W Dubai – The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 245 5555).

Highly commended: Mama Zonia
The winner of our Best Casual Newcomer at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2019, this Pier 7 hotspot also has a swanky, lively and fun-loving jungle-themed (yes, jungle-themed) bar. Inside is heaps of vibrant foliage and trendy decorations, outside you’ll get picturesque views out over Dubai Marina. There’s a top ladies’ night (complete with carnival-style dancers), a lively brunch and an inventive mixed drinks list.
Open Sat-Mon noon-1am, Tue-Thu noon-2am, Fri 1pm-2am. Pier 7, Dubai Marin (04 240 4747).

Highly commended: Zeta
This is one of the best spots to take visitors to. Open now at Address Downtown, you’ll find this swish terrace bar offers something pretty spectacular: an off-ground floor level terrace bar with absolutely incredible views of The Dubai Fountain at prices that don’t require a remortgage for a glass of grape. Good work.
Open Sat-Wed 4pm-midnight, Thu-Fri 4pm-1am. Address Downtown, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).


Pub of the Year

Winner: The Irish Village
This is just the quintessential pub, and its bow has so many strings that it’s going to take a monumental effort for any rival to knock this Irish hangout off its perch anytime soon. Classic pubby feels inside, a wonderful pub garden, loads of live gigs from fantastic, global bands on a regular basis, cracking pub grub and an annual St. Patrick’s Day festival that takes place over three days. Then there’s the Christmas Tree lighting every year, the odd music festival, not to mention the weekly events that keep this place busy all year round.
Open daily 11am-1am. Garhoud (04 282 4750).

Highly commended: Fibber Magee’s
This intimate, lively, nooks and crannies-stuffed Irish pub on Sheikh Zayed Road is your archetypal pub. With live sports, a cosy vibe and decent deals (and an awesome breakfast bap) there’s loads to love about this Irish bar. Low ceilings, live Irish folk music, pints and an all-day breakfast that’s truly fantastic.
Open daily 8am-3am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 2400).

Highly commended: The Dubliner’s
Completing the Irish pub hat-trick this year is this classic, long-standing pub at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. With drinks deals every day and being home to practically every Glasgow Celtic fan in Dubai, you’re bound to find tremendous craic here around match time. The cottage pie is worth writing home about, too.
Open daily 8am-3am. Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Garhoud (04 702 2455).


Bar of the Year

Winner: The Penthouse
Not only the best rooftop bar in Dubai, this is the best bar in town full stop. Big DJ nights every Thursday ease into a chilled-out Saturday ladies’ day poolside brunch. The bar food is excellent (it picked up our Best Bar Food 2019 award last month) and there’s a fantastic ladies’ night on a Tuesday when you’ll get three free drinks. But it’s all about them views – the most visitor-friendly vistas in Dubai, which help us unleash our inner tourist, too. If there’s one place in Dubai you must visit, it’s here. The views are unrivalled and the venue is fantastically chic. Go, now.
Open Sat-Wed noon-3am, Thu-Fri noon-5am. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai (052 900 4868).

Highly commended: Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR – The Walk
A former winner of this category, this enormous bar in JBR is still going strong thanks to its industrial vibes, brilliant daily happy hour, pool tables, two-floors, live music, sports screens and top-quality bar food. We applauded its post-brunch party earlier and if you’re after a massive, casual party, go here.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am, Sat-Sun 2pm-3am. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 392 7120).

Highly commended: Soho Garden
This giant complex at Meydan Racecourse burst its way on to the nightlife scene at the end of 2017 and picked up our Best New Nightlife Venue award at 2018’s awards. Now it’s a bona fide heavyweight of the Dubai scene. It has a stunning interior, intriguing layout, water features, multiple bars and live DJs and music on throughout the week.
Open daily 7pm-3am. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (052 388 8849).


Club of the Year

Winner: Drai’s Dubai
In a nightlife industry that has been dominated by some absolutely superb nightclubs in recent years, Drai’s has come to town amid the aforementioned Soho Garden complex at Meydan and smashed its way into the city’s elite. Initially a day-to-night pool club, it transformed itself entirely in late 2018 and is now the best nightclub in Dubai as far as we’re concerned. International acts hit the stage regularly and Dubai’s clubbing masses flock here twice a week.
Open Tue & Fri, 10pm-4am. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (052 388 8857).

Highly commended: BASE Dubai
A massive open-air nightclub with a central upside-down pyramid that beams out a visually stunning light show three nights a week, shining like a beacon out from this superclub’s location in d3. International rappers, singers and DJs play here every month, plus there’s a collaboration with global party brand Candypants every Saturday.
Open Thu-Sat 10pm-4am. d3, Ras Al Khor Road (055 313 4999).

Highly commended: WHITE Dubai
Round the corner from Drai’s, on the open-air rooftop of the Meydan Racecourse Grandstand in Nad Al Sheba is also home to massive artists on a regular basis, ladies’ nights and one of the most impressive nightlife views around, out towards Downtown Dubai. A regular on this list, with good reason.
Open Thu-Sat 11pm-4am. Meydan Racecourse Grandstand, Nad Al Sheba (050 443 0933).


Best Ladies’ Night

Winner: STK JBR
This happening steakhouse in JBR is part dining room, part party. Dinner here is a lively affair, with dancing, fireworks, live entertainment and more. It can get pretty pricey, too, which is why its ladies’ night is so marvellous. Expect two courses for under Dhs200 (including fillet steak) and three free drinks. Don’t fancy dining? Have your free drinks at the bar. It’s fun, it’s upbeat and it’s one to get dressed up for. Take your mates, take your mum, take visitors – just go.
Tue 7pm-1am. Rixos Premium Dubai, The Walk, JBR (04 323 0061).

Highly commended: Mr. Miyagi’s
If you like to sing karaoke with a mouthful of Thai green curry, then this is for you. This fun bar in Media City runs a cracking ladies’ night that is one of the best value out there. Get three courses of Asian food, plus two hours of drinks – all for just Dhs99. You can’t get a better deal than that. It gets lively, too.
Wed & Sat 5pm-11pm. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 420 7489).

Highly commended: The Penthouse
A previous winner of this award, The Penthouse’s offering is always excellent. With three free drinks for ladies every Tuesday, it’s a must-visit spot for those with female visitors in town. The views are unrivalled and the place is cool and chic. It starts early enough to catch the sunset, too.
Tue 6pm-9.30pm. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (052 900 4868).


Best Gents’ Night

Winner: Asia De Cuba
Home to the city’s first truly unlimited free offer for gents, there’s nowhere else this new award for 2019 could go than this his and hers night near Dubai Marina. Every Tuesday gents can get, as we mentioned, free drinks from 7pm until 9pm, while ladies get the same treatment. It makes for a lively, sophisticated night full of mixed groups socialising and DJs spinning.
Tue 7pm-9pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 511 7333)

Highly commended: QWERTY
Head along to Media One Hotel in Dubai Media City from 6pm until 8pm where you can get your hands on two free drinks, no catch. One bottle of hops and a short measure, totally free.
Mon 6pm-8pm. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).

Highly commended: WXYZ
On Man Cave Tuesdays at Aloft City Centre Deira’s WXYZ Bar, gents will get a complimentary bottle of hops to kick off the evening, while other house beverages only cost Dhs25. The offer goes on from 4pm until 1am, so there’s plenty of time to nab yourself some cheap drinks.
Tue 4pm-1am. Aloft City Centre Deira (04 210 3333).


Best Original Act

Winner: Stephon LaMar
With a voice smoother than butter, and a smile that beams during performances, this soulful American singer songwriter has spent the past year releasing music through Sony Music Middle East and remains the artist to have performed the most at Dubai Opera – having opened for some massive names. A regular on the Dubai music scene, you’ll find LaMar at some of the city’s top live music venues.

Highly commended: Jay Abo
A veteran of the scene, Abo has been a very busy guy this year including releasing a collaborative single alongside fellow original band Carl & The Reda Mafia and being a focal point for a season-long, city-wide original music festival, as well as being a finalist in a nationwide songwriter’s competition.

Highly commended: Vandalye
This original three-piece continue to work tirelessly on the Dubai scene, and even supported Snow Patrol during their appearance at the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival. They also supported Morcheeba at Dubai Opera and Newton Faulkner at Pizza Express Live – so there are plenty of impressive credits in the past 12 months alone.


Best Dubai DJ

Winner: Adam Graca
A stalwart of the Dubai DJ scene, you name a top venue around and he’s probably played it. Currently a resident at Soho Beach, Graca pumps out some funky beats that get the crowds up on their feet and jumping around every single week. See him at Soho Beach.
www.sohobeachdxb.com.

Highly commended: Mar + Mer
Another regular act at the Soho Garden complex, you’ll be able to catch this duo live every single week, supporting top acts and getting on the bill at some of the biggest Ibiza parties.
See them at Soho Garden, www.sohogardendxb.com.

Highly commended: Shef Codes
We love the tunes this guy spins out on a weekly basis, and you’ll find him at clubs and one-off events across the city regularly. Big beats that you won’t be able to help getting a groove on to.
See him at Toy Room www.toyroomdxb.com.


Best Bar Band

Winner: Gorgeous George
Relentlessly professional, this five-piece rock act absolutely storm it every time they play. If you want to see the biggest and best covers gig week in, week out, make sure you catch these guys rocking out.
See them at Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR – The Walk & Barsha Heights, www.lsbdubai.com.

Highly commended: Apple of Seven
What can’t this enormous Filipino band do? Whether it’s One Direction, Whitney Houston, Rihanna or a bunch of different pop songs from their home country, this band rotates its lead singer depending on the song, and every configuration is wildly impressive.
See them at Club Se7en, Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai (04 377 1213).

Highly commended: Big Mouth
Big Mouth is a hyperactive explosion that you can’t help but get all wrapped up in. Big noise, big sounds, big rock covers and big performances form this (you guessed it) big bar band.
See them Hard Rock Cafe, www.hardrock.com/cafes/dubai.


The Best Events of the past 12 months

Best Gig Under 3,000

Winner: Biffy Clyro
Hard Rock Cafe was the setting for an absolutely barnstorming show from one of the top rock bands in the world today. Tickets for the three-piece prog rockers’ show sold out in next to no time, and fans weren’t left disappointed with a one hour and 45 minute set that smashed through the band’s biggest tunes, a few old-school favourites and some from their latest album, Ellipsis. A rare chance to see a huge band in a small venue.

Highly commended: Haçienda Classiçal
Some legendary DJs from the Manchester clubbing scene, coupled with a live orchestra, singers, percussionists and more to produce a unique experience fusing classic dance hits with classical music. A night at Dubai Opera that kept the crowds dancing all night long, which extended into a second night due to popular demand.

Highly commended: Newton Falkner
A maestro of guitar manipulation, the man behind enduring hit Dream Catch Me and a remarkable cover of Bohemian Rhapsody put on an intimate show at PizzaExpress Live.
A sold-out venue, a magnificent performance, some singalong opportunities, bags of charisma and a lively atmosphere.


Best Gig 3,000+

Winner: Backstreet Boys
Could there have been any other winner? Such was the excitement for this reunion concert (the band’s first since 2009) at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre at Blended Festival 2018 that tickets instantly sold out, then instantly sold out again when the organisers created space for extra allocations. A smash through the greatest hits from one of the biggest boy bands in history, and a show that was totally on-point for ’90s and ’00s fans.

Highly commended: Alicia Keys
The final night headline show at the 2019 Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival saw the most A-list of performers bang through her greatest hits to a near-capacity crowd. Having won more than a dozen Grammy Awards over her 20+ year career, Keys even welcomed local musicians on stage sporadically through the night – a lovely touch.

Highly commended: Fatboy Slim
We think this might be the greatest gig ever in Zero Gravity’s history. More than 7,500 people made their way to the beach club and hit the sands for an absolutely magnificent performance from the pioneer in quirky house. Anyone who was there will tell you it was one of the best gigs you could have wished for. Bravo, Fatboy. Bravo.


Best Theatrical Performance

Winner: Othello
The first-ever theatrical performance to be hosted at Dubai Opera saw a four-night stint of this legendary (a justified use of the term, considering it was first performed more than 400 years ago) Shakespeare. The Bard’s classic play has been reimagined for the 21st century, and saw huge demand for its many performances.

Highly commended: Carmen
A refreshingly stripped-back production for this iconic global opera, but the quality on show from the team was unquestionable. An unamplified performance illustrated the performers’ pure talent by captivating and filling an entire auditorium without the use of technology for three nights. As an instantly recognisable name, this production helped introduce many of Dubai’s theatre enthusiasts to the intricacies of on-stage opera.

Highly commended: Monty Python’s SPAMALOT
A quirky, irreverent production that’s been a smash hit in the West End of London for years. A four-night run at Dubai Opera, this Monty Python show demonstrated an alternative approach to theatrical entertainment in the emirate which richly added to the city’s arts scene in 2018.


Best Comedy Gig

Winner: Rob Deering
A number of top-quality performances at The Laughter Factory saw this British comedian take this year’s prize. Considered shaky comedy ground by some, Deering’s music-based routine saw him performing a number of songs about ageing, being a former raver, growing up, becoming a dad and waking up at 6am to change nappies. Hilarious from start to finish, and totally striking a chord with the in-stitches audience.

Highly commended: Ian Smith
An intimate performance at Warehouse Four in Al Quoz saw this hilarious award-winning UK comic bring his Edingburgh Fringe show to chat about, weirdly, origami. Genuinely brilliant comedy in a relaxed, chilled-out setting that was different, but outstandingly professional.

Highly commended: Totally Wired
When musical comedy strikes again, bringing popular Sheikh Zayed Road Irish pub Fibber Magee’s to absolute capacity, you know it’s a goodun’. A hilarious duo singing songs that aren’t (admittedly) particularly family-friendly, but who had punters arriving four hours early to a free gig to secure tables.


Best Festival

Winner: Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival
Relentlessly ambitious, this three-day festival, in Dubai Media City saw three absolutely enormous acts hit the stage this year – largely returning to its jazz, funk and soul roots with performances from the aforementioned Alicia Keys, Jamiroquai and (although not entirely jazzy) Snow Patrol. Near-capacity crowds, parties, affordably priced pints and an insistence on the biggest acts around means this festival continues to prove to be the best.

Highly commended: Groove on the Grass
Another incredibly ambitious event, this regular dance festival at Emirates Golf Club targets Dubai’s EDM fans and expat ravers for some late-night al fresco dancing. Bringing in some of the most historical names from jungle, garage, house and beyond – the last 12 months have seen the likes of Underworld, Orbital, Chicane and more.

Highly commended: Kaynouna
A free-spirited festival that’s soared to new heights over the past year. With international DJs performing on a regular basis, this festival is as much about the extra activities as it is the music. Try yoga, watch fire jugglers or make a dream catcher.

Outstanding Contribution

Jasper Hope
Although Phantom of the Opera is coming to Dubai later this year – sending the city’s theatre fans into frenzied excitement – it’s the Chief Executive of the Opera who stars here. Following a distinguished career at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London, Jasper Hope came over here in 2015 with one aim: to transform the city’s cultural landscape. Four years on, Dubai Opera has hosted world-class performances including Spanish singer Plácido Domingo, hit musicals such as Les Misérables and the venue’s first-ever play Othello. Under Hope’s leadership and artistic direction, Dubai Opera has grown from the seed of an idea to holding a clear place on the world stage.

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