We left our car behind just next to the Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Fort and got lost in the tangle of narrow lanes and heritage coral-hewn buildings of the Al Fahidi Historic District, some of the last in Dubai. Across the creek from the bustling Spice Souq and a quick walk from the Textile Souq, this area is surprisingly quiet and is incredibly atmospheric after dark. We took a traditional wooden boat (🎟️ 2 AED), “abra,” kitted out with a motor and a single bench seat in the middle to cross Dubai Creek in less than five minutes. From the water, surveying the city’s eye-catching architecture, from modern glass constructions to older structures made of coral and stone topped with barjeel, was easy. These wind towers provide a natural form of air conditioning.

We walked through Spice Souq, which was filled with mounds of aromatic cardamom, Iranian saffron, and solid menthol strips. Then, we went back to Al Fahidi to explore the quarter built in the early 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak, who settled in Dubai to take advantage of tax breaks granted by the sheik.

Next to the district is Al Seef, a lovely place to wander with the bustling waterfront tourist development. Life in this part of the Arabian Peninsula was nomadic for centuries, yo-yo-ing back and forth between the coast and the desert in time with the seasons, leaving nothing behind except indentations in the sand from goat-hair tents. The oldest building in Dubai was constructed in 1787, and most structures in the city’s historic districts are from the 20th century.

In the early 1900s, the Al Seef historical area was Dubai’s trading hub when the pearl diving industry was being developed. Stretching some 1.8km along Dubai Creek, the developers have divided the area into two distinct areas: one sharply contemporary, with buildings that resemble piled-up shipping containers, and the other with an Old Dubai neighborhood feel thanks to the rough-hewn facades, narrow alleyways, and faux wind towers.

Nightlife in Dubai
In the evening, we went to the Irish pub McGettigan’s JBR (Magners Cider 52 AED) and then to the famous nightclub Club 7 (no entrance, San Miguel Beer Tower 245 AED, San Miguel Pitcher 135 AED, San Miguel Glass 55 AED).

Nightlife in Dubai can be very expensive, especially if you are a single guy. Indeed, most high-end clubs will force men to book a table, with minimum spending between 1500 AED and 3000 AED. In the best nightlife venues, you can expect to pay 45-55 AED for a beer, 60-80 AED for a cocktail, and 1200 AED for a cheap liquor bottle. If you go partying in Deira or Bur Dubai, the prices will often be lower (about 30% less). Another good way to save money is to check for happy hours. Almost every bar has some, usually between 4 PM and 8 PM. Typically, you will get a buy 1 get 1 promo on selected drinks.

If you want friendly bars in Dubai where you can meet new people, these are recommended:
– Lock Stock and Barrel – Best on Tuesday for their busy ladies’ night. (2 branches)
– The Stables – Equestrian-themed British pub
– Rodeo Drive – Vintage restaurant and bar with live music and authentic American food
– Double Decker – British pub with outdoor garden
– McGettigan’s – Irish pub, part of an international chain with 5 different locations in Dubai
– Fibber Magee’s – Discreet Irish pub in the financial district with quiz nights and live music
– The Irish Village – 3 branches in Dubai for this Irish pub, full of regulars

Some good nightclubs are:
– Blu in V-Hotel (you may also enjoy nearby 1-Oak or Bling if you are into hip-hop, R&B, or Afro music)
– Soho Garden – expect to spend money
– Black – a big indoor nightclub, presumably the largest in Dubai, that focuses on R&B
– Playroom – a techno/electronic music club with an underground atmosphere
– White (in Meydan Hotel) – voted #16 best club in the world by DJ Mag
– Vii in Conrad Hotel – popular restaurant/bar/lounge/nightclub
– Armani/Privé (in Armani Hotel) – girls get free drinks until 1 AM, guys can enter for free
– Billionaire (in Taj Hotel) – pricey and exclusive, full of Eastern European sugar babies in their 20s
– Mantis (in Emirates Financial Center) – girls can drink and eat sushis for free every day until 1 AM

Outdoor lounges and rooftops:
– Penthouse (in Five Palm Jumeirah) – it offers one of the best views of the city
– Iris – an open-air bar is on the 27th floor of The Oberoi Hotel; cool crowd, live music
– SKYS – Hip rooftop on the 40th floor of the H Hotel, one of the top bars among younger ex-pats
– Seven Sisters – chic bar with an open-air terrace, 5 free drinks for their Tuesday’s ladies’ night

Ethnic bars and clubs:
– Filipinos – Boracay or Club 7
– Indians – Inka
– Russians – Luna, Club5, Muscovites, Regal, Rasputin, Amadeus, El Barrio, Red Square (full of girls)
– Africans – Wednesdays in Marq

Pool and beach clubs:
The beach clubs in Dubai are a nightlife destination of their own. You can go there in the afternoon for brunch (with free-flow drinks), then stay until late for partying. Beware, as most of them are closed during the summer months. Here are the best ones:

– Zero Gravity – brunch on Thursday and Friday with 4 hours of free-flow alcohol and food
– Barasti Beach – free entrance, legendary among the party crowd who want to mingle and flirt

Girls and Freelancers:
It’s hard to talk about Dubai nightlife without mentioning its huge prostitution scene. You will see hookers or escorts everywhere, from the cheap ethnic bars in Deira to the most exclusive clubs in the 5-star hotels.

In the latter, prostitution is rather discreet. You will see some young women from around the world (but mostly from Eastern Europe and Russia) sitting by themselves at a bar and enjoying drinks. If you smile at them, they will approach you and reveal who they are.

In Deira, things are more straightforward. In the hotel bars of that area, 100% of girls are prostitutes, and they will go straight to your table.

Here are some of those infamous clubs:
(most of them have a DJ/live band and a dance floor).

– Premier Bar in Hyatt Regency – entrance is 200 AED after midnight. It is a famous spot with over a hundred girls from every ethnicity and is pricier than elsewhere.
– Red Square in Moscow Hotel – mostly Eastern European girls; weekend entrance is 150 AED
– Ratsky (in Fortune Karama Hotel) – bar full of Filipinas
– Jules (in Le Méridien Centre) – many Vietnamese and Chinese girls; entrance 65 AED on weekdays

Parking location – Dubai: 25.263897N 55.297169E