What’s On profiles cool group activities in Dubai, like dhow cruise, yacht hire, paintballing, go-karting, karaoke, brunch, pub quizzes.
From the thrilling to the quirky, these group activities prove why some things are just better shared…
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Tackle the rapids
Number of people: Maximum six
For the ultimate adventure day, take your thrill-seeking friends to the base of Jebel Hafeet for a white-water rafting trip in Al Ain. The rapids are man-made but with varying levels of difficulty and some pretty gnarly drops, you’re bound to have at least one crewmember fall overboard.
Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, Sun to Thur 11am to 8pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 8pm, Dhs150 per person. Tel: (03) 7818422. Taxi: Wadi Adventure, Al Ain. wadiadventure.ae
Take a dhow cruise to Musandam
Number of people: Maximum 25
If a dhow trip off the Omani coast conjures up images of a calming voyage on an old Arabic vessel, where you’ll drop anchor, kayak lazily around the boat, before scuba diving in caves, you’d be right. Organising a big group can be tricky but once you’re on board all the activities and food and drinks are taken care of, leaving you to relax on the top deck with your mates.
Sheesa Beach Travel & Tourism, Dibba, Oman, daily 8am to 5pm, Dhs160 per person. Tel: (050) 3336046. Taxi: Dibba port. sheesabeach.com
Wake up and board
Number of people: Maximum eight
Early risers can take full advantage of the glassy waters by Dubai Marina and get a lesson in wakeboarding from the team at Sea Riders. They’ll take you out by The Palm and crank up the Bob Marley tunes while you take it in turns crossing the wake behind a Master Craft wakeboard boat.
Marina Mall, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6am to 6pm, Dhs550 per hour. Tel: (055) 5103739. Metro: Dubai Marina. searidersuae.com
Shoot ‘em up
Number of people: Maximum 30
There’s no better way to get the boss back for making you work that Friday than by shooting them. With paintballs, we mean. Great for work outings, paintball guns use air pressure to expel small pellets of paint at high speed. Getting hit by a pellet can be quite painful but you’ll never feel more alive – dodging bullets like Neo in The Matrix and taking out your enemies with a well-placed shot to the chest.
Al Forsan, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 1pm to 10pm, Fri to Sat 10am to 10pm, Dhs120 per person. Tel: (02) 5568555. Taxi: Al Forsan International Sports Resort. alforsan.com
Carry on camping…
Number of people: Unlimited
No dress code, no guest list and no fees – camping is the ultimate group activity, and in the UAE it’s so easy to experience the natural wonders of the Arabian countryside for a night. Choose from the huge expanses of the desert or the enchanting rocky mountains and breath-taking coastlines and get ready for an unforgettable experience.
FOR THE QUIRKY
Crack a puzzle house
Number of people: Maximum five
Think your pals are a smart bunch? Put them to the ultimate test at Escape Quest, the latest puzzle house in Dubai. Following hot on the heels of Challenge Chambers and Hint Hunt, this JLT venue sees punters locked in rooms, stripped of their bags and phones and given an hour to solve puzzles, crack codes and find keys.
HDS Business Centre, Cluster M, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, daily 10am to 11pm, Dhs90 per person. Tel: (055) 2845382. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. escapequest.ae
Sing at a karaoke bar
Number of people: Maximum 20
Sometimes you just want to belt out Bon Jovi hits at the top of your lungs with your mates, and at this Tecom spot you can do just that by renting out a karaoke room. A great choice for night owls.
Kung Korean Restaurant, Byblos Hotel, Tecom, Dubai, daily 7pm to 2.30am, Dhs280 per hour. Tel: (04) 4488000. Metro: Dubai Internet City. bybloshoteldubai.com
BBQ on a rubber boat
Number of people: Maximum six
Hop aboard a donut-shaped dinghy that’s fixed with a central grilling station. Grab your friends, and light up the barbie sitting on a inflatable in the Arabian Sea.
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira, Dubai, daily noon to 9pm, Dhs180 to Dhs500. Tel: (04) 2956000. Taxi: Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. dubaigolf.com
Form a dodgeball team
Number of people: Maximum eight
Nothing says team spirit quite like taking a ball to the face for your friend. But if this sounds like your idea of fun, sign up to one of Bounce’s frequent dodgeball competitions or head to the trampoline emporium and practise with your buddies. It’s a fantastic workout – and aside from the adrenaline boost from the fear of getting smacked, it’s an awful lot of fun.
Street 4B, behind Ace Hardware, Al Quoz, Sat to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thur 10am to midnight, Fri 9am to midnight, Dhs80. Tel: (04) 3211400. Taxi: Opposite Lime Tree Café. bounce.ae
FOR THE GLAM
Hire a yacht
Number of people: Maximum 90
The ubiquitous Gugu party boat has been sailing up and down Dubai Marina for years. The glass-bottomed dance floor can accommodate up to 90 guests over two floors and the upstairs palm-leafed parasols are the perfect spot to chill out when you’re done with all that dancing.
Dubai Marina, Dubai, Dhs4,500 per hour. Tel: (050) 1275873. Metro: Dubai Marina. guguboat.com
Brunch by the sea
Number of people: Maximum eight
Brunches are the best way to get a group of friends together. But for something a little more unique, the Saturday brunch at Blue Marlin might have the edge. There are some new items on the menu, including a chicken chorizo platter, classic chocolate fondant, prawn tempura, and sea bass ceviche, and you can head down to the beach for an after-party.
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, Al Jazira Island Hotel, Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, Sat 1pm to 3pm, 3.30pm to 5.30pm, Dhs249 to Dhs295. Tel: (056) 1133400. Taxi: Al Jazira Island Hotel, Ghantoot. bluemarlinibiza-uae.com
Party at Music Hall
Number of people: Maximum 15
What do a Hungarian opera singer, an American cabaret act and a French crooner have in common? They are all part of the Lebanese theatre/supper club, Music Hall. In fact no less than ten different acts perform on the same stage in a single evening, entertaining groups of well-heeled punters who sit, stand and dance in booths that face the stage.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm, Dubai, Thur and Fri 9pm to 3am, Dhs450 per person. Tel: (056)2708670. Taxi: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. themusichall.com
Relax in a cabana
Number of people: Maximum five
If you and your friends enjoy the finer things in life then a day by the glorious infinity pool at the newly rebranded Saadiyat Beach Club might be just the ticket. The private cabanas seem to float magically above the pool like miniature islands complete with cloud-like double day beds to lounge on. You’ll be kings and queens of your own palatial islands – at least for one day.
Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 7pm, Dhs550. Tel: (02) 6563500. saadiyatbeachclub.com
Dinner and a show
Number of people: Maximum ten
The Act has already achieved cult status among Dubai’s most discerning revellers. The new dinner-and-a-show concept takes place each week and is a great option for a trendy night out. The fancy mock-Baroque venue features dancers, actors, singers and acrobats performing in front of a full house of diners grazing on exquisite Peruvian cuisine.
Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Mon, Tue and Wed 8.30pm, Dhs320 per person. Tel: (04) 4438215. Metro: Financial Centre. facebook.com/TheActDubai
FOR THE RACERS
Dubai Autodrome’s kartdrome offers a fleet of leisure karts that deliver an excellent racing experience. The venue has both indoor and outdoor karting areas the 1.2km international standard circuit features no less than 17 corners, plus a bridge and tunnel to add to the excitement.
Dubai Autodrome, Dubai Motor City, Dubai, Sun to Wed 8.30 to midnight, Thur to Fri 5pm to 6.30pm, Sat 10pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3678744. Taxi: Dubai Autodrome. dubaiautodrome.com
One of the main attractions at the revamped Adventureland in the Sahara Centre in Sharjah is the two-level go karting track where racers can put their pedal to the metal against other boy and girl racers.
Sahara Centre, Sharjah, Sun to Wed 10am to 11pm, Thur to Sat 10am to midnight, Fri 1pm to midnight. Tel: (06) 5316363. Taxi: Sahara Centre, Sharjah. adventureland-sharjah.com
Arguably the fastest in the UAE, this circuit’s fleet can reach up to 70kph, so it’s the perfect introduction to motorsports. And, since it’s right on the Formula 1 circuit track, you and your mates will feel like international racing superstars.
Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 2pm to 9.30pm, Dhs110. Tel: (02) 6599800. Taxi: Yas Marina Circuit yasmarinacircuit.com
LET’S GET QUIZZICAL
This Aussie bar has a popular quiz night every Monday. The rounds vary from ‘guess the song’ to ‘current affairs’.
Shoreline Apartments, The Palm, Dubai, Mon 7.30pm. Tel: (04) 4270515. Taxi: Bidi Bondi. facebook.com/bidibondi.palmshoreline
The newest quiz on the block features five rounds of ten questions. Categories include current affairs, entertainment, sports and a general knowledge ‘boffins’ round with a bit of music and mystery thrown in.
Citymax Hotel, Al Barsha, Dubai, Mon 8pm. Tel: (04) 4078000. Taxi: Citymax Hotel. citymaxhotels.com
This one gets packed pretty quickly so be sure to arrive early to get a spot. It’s decidedly harder than Bidi Bondi but the prizes are bigger too.
Bonnington Hotel, Cluster J, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, Tue 7.30pm. Tel: (04) 3560560. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. mcgettigansdubai.com
This is probably the rowdiest pub quiz in town with a creative round that involves plasticine modelling.
Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Tue 8pm. Metro: Emirates Towers. fibbersdubai.com
GET BOWLED OVER
Dubai Bowling Centre
One of the biggest in the land, you’ll find 16 lanes here and plenty of serious strike-seekers, with tournaments, leagues and competitions running regularly.
Al Quoz 1, Al Meydan, Dubai, Mon to Wed 10am to midnight, Thur 10am to 2am, Fri 10am to 1.30am, Dhs135 per hour. Tel: (04) 3991010. Taxi: Al Meydan Street. bowlingdubai.com
This one is for the children, with all the bells and whistles that comes with kiddie-friendly bowling, such as a ‘cosmic’ theme and video stimulation.
Mirdif City Centre, Mirdif, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thur to Sat 10am to midnight, Dhs20 per person. Tel: (800) 386. Taxi: Mirdif City Centre.theplaymania.com/yallabowling
Zayed Sports City
This whopping 40-lane alley plays host to some of the biggest bowling events in the UAE, including the 2014 and 2015 World Bowling Championships.
Zayed Sports City, Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 1am, Dhs100 per hour. Tel: (02) 4034648. zsc.ae
With 12 lanes, the latest sound and light technology, Switch is popular for children’s parties (complete with meal packages).
Ibn Battuta, Jebel Ali, Dubai, daily 10am to 1am, Dhs155 per hour. Tel: (04) 4405961. Taxi: Ibn Batuta. facebook.com/SwitchBowling
Al Nasr Leisureland
This decidedly un-glam bowling alley is more about fun than a serious night at the lanes, but it’s open late and licensed. That’s right, you can have a beer with your bowling.
Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha, Dubai, daily 9am to 11pm, Dhs100 per hour. Tel: (04) 3371234. Taxi: Al Nasr. alnasrll.com
Dubai International Bowling Centre
You want 36 lanes? You want cheap prices? And maybe a tournament or two? It’s open until 1am and with all those lanes you’re pretty much guaranteed a game. They also host regional and international tournaments, host children’s parties and offer summer camps.
Al Mamzar, Dubai, daily 9am to 1pm, Dhs100 per hour. Tel: (04) 2969222. Taxi: Opposite Century Mall. dubaibowlingcentre.com
HIRE A PRIVATE DINING ROOM
The Dubai outpost of London’s The Ivy has a large dining area behind closed doors that’s frequently used for meetings, long lunches and special occasions. Featuring expertly chosen artwork, it’s a chic space that can seat up to 18 people, with special seasonal menus, flowers, candles and place cards available upon request, and prices starting from Dhs300 per head for three courses.
Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily noon to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3198767. Metro: Emirates Towers. theivy.ae
More than just private dining rooms, the elevated spaces that hang over Okku’s main room are mini party palaces where friends can pile in, share platters of Japanese food and go slightly wild when the DJ takes over.
The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 7pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 5018777. Metro: World Trade Centre. okku.com
Armani’s signature restaurant is a showstopper, as you’d expect from Giorgio. With wine-lined walls, it’s a stunning spot for a business dinner to impress where you’ll be treated to a menu of modern Italian dishes.
Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 8883444. Metro: Burj Khalifa. dubai.armanihotels.com
If you want a Thai feast with friends, then the high ceilings of Mango Tree’s private room (also a wine cellar) does the job very nicely indeed. It can hold 14 people, and when it’s not booked for groups, diners gather around it in twos or threes, making for a sociable eating experience.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4267313. Metro: Dubai Mall. facebook.com/MangoTreeDubai
Book a dinner in Traiteur’s well-hidden private dining room, Cave Privee, and enjoy your meal in one of the most extensive wine cellars in the city, which boasts more than 4,200 bottles.
Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira, Dubai, Sun to Fri 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3172222. Taxi: opposite Deira City Centre. dubai.park.hyatt.com