Footy fans around the city are getting ready for England vs. Croatia on Wednesday July 11 at 10pm, and Dubai is brimming with brilliant venues to watch the exciting match.
With only so many games left though, should you head over to your familiar watering hole or try something fresh? It’s a tough decision, so we’ve narrowed it down for you.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing spot or one that’s filled with cheering fans, there’s a spot in Dubai that’s calling your name.
Here are some of the best places by category you’ll want to head on down to for the big semi-final.
For a full list, head on over to our guide to where to watch the World Cup.
garden on 8 Best for cheering Novo Cinemas
Media types who are looking for a quick escape from the office in time for kick off should leg it straight over to garden on 8, where the bar’s massive terrace has been covered over to create a special World Cup tent. With loads of screens (and one huge one) dotted around the terrace area, and with tonne of drinks promos, events and more to celebrate the tournament, you needn’t look further.
Open Sun-Wed noon-midnight; Thu-Sat noon-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).
Best fan zone
One of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks has gone all-out for this year’s festival with what it’s calling “the ultimate” World Cup Fan Zone. Every match will be streamed in the Atlantis World Cup Fan Zone, which has capacity for more than 2,000 fans. With a whopping great 28sq m screen as the centrepiece, the fan zone will be split into two distinct areas. The Stadium will be the main viewing arena for fans, with the huge screen and more, while The Bench will have a chilled out vibe with a gamer’s corner, dedicated PS4 stand and even a chance to win a trip to the country that wins the World Cup. This is probably going to be one of the coolest places to catch the whole tournament. For big matches, booking a table is recommended and there’s a minimum spend of Dhs1,000.
Free (ladies), Dhs100 (gents, including two drinks). Open daily throughout tournament during matches. Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, email@example.com (04 426 2626).
Best for relaxing
This sports bar in JBR has revamped its garden area for summer (don’t worry, the massive screens are still there), so there are now loads of comfy lounge seats in addition to its 103-inch TV and six 42-inch screens dotted about the bar. Get your hands on some smoked, meaty grub from the garden’s barbecue smoker wagon and kick back to some live music after the matches.
Open Sun-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri noon-3am, Sat 11am-3am. JA Ocean View Hotel (04 814 5590).
Best for prizes
This fun-loving and trendy sports bar is running the “Keys to Cash” promotion during the tourney, and you’ll get a key for every Dhs100 you spend at the bar. Your key will unlock a mystery box, which contains a range of prizes, and one’s even got Dhs10,000 cash inside. With a 165-inch digital wall and a 100-inch TV, you won’t miss a kick.
Open daily noon-3am. Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai (04 407 8000).
Want to watch the game on the terraces? The IV might just have the most original set up of any place showing the World Cup. A gigantic screen, and tiered terraces where you can watch each game, as though you’re in the stadium – there’s a Dhs100 minimum spend, and groups of ten or more can guarantee seating by booking in advance.
Entry Dhs100. Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud (04 282 4750).
Best for England fans
We think it’s the Best Sports Bar in Dubai – so much so that we gave it that very title at our Music & Nightlife Awards earlier this year. For English fans, there’s no better place to go. With dozens of screens dotted around this London Underground-themed pub in JBR, this is one spot where you’ll never miss a kick. There’s a strong daily happy hour (with drinks available for Dhs27), plus great grub, pool tables and more. With a huge projector screen in the middle of the bar, this will be one of the most popular spots in town during the tournament.
Open daily noon-3am. Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, JBR (04 408 4257).
Best for Croatia fans
Promising to bring “the best football experience Dubai has ever seen”, Barasti launched two fan zones for the World Cup, and so far it has delivered on its promise. The Barasti SuperDome will have giant screens, live DJs, room for 8,000 fans and more, right down on the beach. Meanwhile, the middle deck will have its air-conditioned tent and giant, 12-metre-wide screen as per usual, so there are two areas to choose from.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-1am; Thu-Fri 10am-2.30am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 318 1313).
Best for cosy watching
This cinema is getting all of its Dubai complexes in on the action, with tickets to see all matches for Dhs90, except for the final, which is Dhs120. All tickets come with some classic cinema snacks too – a small popcorn and a Coke. If you’re a little more peckish you can also tuck in on nachos, hot dogs and ice cream too.
From Dhs90. Various locations including Dubai Festival City Mall, www.novocinemas.com.
Best for cheering