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City Lights and Desert Stars - The Best Places to Party in Dubai

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Enjoying an evening cocktail on a roof terrace above the Arabian Gulf, you can watch the sun go down and the skyline light up. Dubai's nightlife is shared between the buzzing hubs of downtown, Jumeirah, and the Marina, with much of the action to be found in designer bars and lounges within glamorous luxury hotels.

Rooftop bars and clubs


The city has its share of busy British-style pubs at street level and late-night basement nightclubs, but there's a whole other scene in the sky over Dubai. Hotels are rising ever higher, with increasingly flashy rooftop bars and outdoor dancefloors to capitalize on the spectacular views and warm Gulf breezes. Most of these are staffed by master cocktail mixologists, drawing superstar local and international DJs to provide the music and attract a particularly style-conscious clientele.


Mercury Lounge


This alfresco terrace makes a sparkling spot to start the evening. The Taittinger champagne bar is shaped like a bubble, and sunset can be enhanced with chilled caviar and Azoto ice-cream cocktails.


Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 270 7777


Mercury Lounge website




This is the Warwick Hotel's super-stylish rooftop pool bar. It's also the venue for Dubai's highest club night, District 47, where the DJs play hip-hop and smooth R&B.


Sheikh Zayed Road, DIFC, Near DIFC Metro Station, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 506 9999


Zephyr website
Above At The Sofitel Downtown


Visiting Burj Khalifa is a must, but this iconic skyscraper is best enjoyed from a slight distance. It looks especially dramatic at night from the comfort of this rooftop lounge.


Sheikh Zayed Road, Downtown Dubai. Tel: +971 4 503 6666


Above At The Sofitel Downtown website


Shows and entertainment


From cabarets to fireworks and light shows, a night out in Dubai always feels like a special event. Even the oldest and simplest pleasures, such as taking an abra (water taxi) across Dubai Creek, become more cinematic after sundown, with the building lights and shadows reflected on the water. There's a touch of Las Vegas to the evening entertainments too, as top international musicians, comedians, dancers and even circus troupes are flown in to perform at purpose-built venues.


The Act


This Dubai edition of The Box burlesque show is not so naughty as its Vegas counterpart. It's equally extravagant though, with lavish Victorian-style design and impressive song-and-dance dinner shows.


Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 355 1116


The Act website


The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride


You can't miss Dubai's answer to the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, right outside Burj Khalifa. The evening show is eye-popping, as water jets dance to synchronized music.


1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 366 1655


The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride website


Night-time touring


Dubai stops abruptly at the city limits, giving way to a vast expanse of sand and a much older desert culture. There is lots to do out there these days, from quad biking and dune bashing to Bedouin camp visits. At night the air turns cool and clear, the nocturnal animals come out to play, and the sky displays the brightest swirl of stars you've ever seen. For another perspective on the futuristic cityscape you can take to Dubai's waterways for a moonlit cruise along the edge of the ancient gulf.


Platinum Private Night Safari


This tour takes you deep into the dunes to spot local wildlife through high-tech night-vision goggles. A professional astronomer points out the stars and planets and tell stories about the Arabian myths and legends surrounding those constellations.


Office 123, 3rd Floor, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 388 4044


Platinum Private Night Safari website


Dhow Cruise Dinner


There's a definite romance to floating down the dark water past those blazing city lights on a traditional dhow sailing vessel. You can also enjoy an Arabian-style buffet dinner as you cruise along Dubai Creek.


Office 3206, Churchill Towers, Business Bay, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 569 944


Dhow Cruise Dinner website