Dubai after dark: Explore the city that never sleeps...
From moonlight desert safaris to motorbike tours of the city, some Dubai activities are best enjoyed after sundown.
From night markets to food tours, there’s no excuse to stay in once the sun goes down.
With more than 30 glow in the dark installations created by 150 artists, and spread across 40 acres of park, Dubai’s Glow Garden is definitely one of those city spots best appreciated after dark. Some of the highlights include the massive light-up model of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Gate 6 and 7, Area B, Zabeel Park, Dubai, Sat to Wed 4pm to midnight, Thur and Fri 4pm to 1am, Dhs60, under-threes and disabled visitors free. Tel: (056) 4467842. Metro: Dubai World Trade Centre. dubaigardenglow.com
Dubai Fountains lake ride
Most of us have witnessed the spectacle that is the Dubai Fountains show, but there’s nothing like seeing it from the water itself. Take a traditional abra around the Burj Lake and experience the lights, waterjets and music like never before.
Downtown Dubai, Dubai, daily 5.45pm to 11.30pm, Dhs65. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. burjkhalifa.ae
Glow in the dark golf at Tee & Putt
Hidden in the depths of Wafi Mall, test your swing in the dark at this glowing mini golf course designed to look like an alien planet. With ultraviolet lights, aliens and astronauts, it’s a fun way to while a way a few hours indoors.
Wafi Mall, Oud Metha, Dubai, daily 10am to 10pm, Dhs75. Tel: (04) 3573290. Metro: Dubai Healthcare City. teeandputt.com
Al Barsha Night Market
Photo credit: Wessa Arca
As much as we love a morning farmers’ market, there’s something very relaxing about browsing the stalls at sundown. The Al Barsha Night Market, which takes place at Al Barsha Pond Park, features local vendors, live acoustic music and even free fitness classes, and is a great night time activity for the whole family.
Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha, Dubai, Sat 3pm to 9pm. Tel: (04) 3157000. Taxi: Al Barsha Pond Park. ripeme.com
Café Scientifique Dubai Astronomy Group
It’s all very well stargazing in the desert, but you can take this hobby to a whole new level with Café Scientifique’s astronomy group. The club, which is an affiliated member of global organisation Astronomers Without Borders, hosts regular stargazing views with telescopic viewing, TEDx talks, quizzes, camping trips and more.
Bateaux Dubai night cruise
Experience Dubai Creek by night from the comfort of a luxury dinner cruise. Bateaux Dubai hosts sit-down dinners every evening.
Baniyas Road, opposite Emirates NDB Head Office, Deira, Dubai, daily 8.30pm to 11pm, Dhs395 with soft drinks, Dhs495 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 8145553. Metro: Union Square. jaresortshotels.com
Photo credit: Rohail Mughal
You could play snooker in one of Dubai’s countless sports bars, but for the authentic experience (and opening hours that stretch well into the early morning), head to the Dubai Snooker Club. Located in Karama, this old-school hangout spot has been around for more than 30 years.
3B Street, Al Karama, Dubai, Sat to Wed 9am to 1.30am, Thur and Fri 9am to 2.30am, Dhs30 per hour. Tel: (04) 43375338. Taxi: 3B Street, Karama, www.dubaisnooker.com
Outdoor cinema at Galleria Mall
Open in the evenings only, this rooftop outdoor cinema makes a standard movie night that much more special: book one of the romantic two-person cabanas and snuggle under a blanket while you watch the latest blockbusters. The price of the ticket includes snacks, popcorn and a hotdog or nachos.
Galleria Mall, Dubai, 6pm, Dhs130. Tel: (600) 599905. Taxi: Galleria. voxcinemas.com
Everyone should spend at least one evening in Global Village, bargain hunting in the maze of stalls, catching a death-defying show, and munching on snacks from the international food vendors.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Wed 4.30pm to 11pm, Thur and Fri 4.30pm to 12.30am, Sat 4.30pm to 11.30pm, Dhs15. Tel: (04) 3624114. Taxi: Global Village. globalvillage.ae
Night photography introductory course with Gulf Photo Plus
Amateur shutterbugs who have taken a blurry picture of the sunset in Dubai will know that the ‘blue hour’ – the time between sunset and complete darkness – is one of the most challenging times to photograph, but equally one of the best, if you get it right. Gulf Photo Plus hosts a very useful introductory course to night photography to help you bring out the best of Dubai after dark in your pictures.
Unit 36, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to 7pm, Thur and Sat 10am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 3808545. Taxi: Alserkal Avenue. facebook.com/gulfphotoplus
Frying Pan Adventures
One of the best ways to experience Dubai after dark is by joining a food tour with Frying Pan Adventures. You’ll explore the older, less glitzy areas of Dubai, from the souks around the Creek to the hole in the wall cafés.
Camp in the snow, gaze at the stars and admire wild animals.
Ski Dubai camping
Spend a night in a tent at Ski Dubai. Each Friday, punters keen on a night in -4 degrees weather will be supplied with winter clothing, nachos and sausages from a mountain shack, a hot chocolate and, between 10pm and midnight, access to all of Ski Dubai’s Snow Park (skiing, snowboarding and zip-wiring).
Ski Dubai, Mall Of The Emirates, Dhs770. Tel: (04) 4094242. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. skidxb.com
Is it a bird? A plane? A shooting star? A meteor shower? On a stargazing tour, it could be any of the above. The desert is the perfect place to take off with an enthusiastic group of amateur astronomers and try to discover a new planet. Dubai Astronomy Group have regular meet-ups and star spotting events, and they’ve even got their own observatory – the Zubair Astronomy Camp.
Mushrif Park, Mushrif, Dubai, Sat to Thur 10am to 6pm, free. Tel: (050) 6246172. Taxi: Mushrif Park. dubaiastronomy.com
Night safari at Al Ain Zoo
Get on board a private 4×4 tour at Al Ain Zoo for the chance to get a glimpse of nocturnal critters. The Night Bird Show at 8pm is another great one for an experience under the stars.
Nahyan The First Street, Abu Dhabi, daily 6pm, Dhs200. Tel: (800) 966. Taxi: Al Ain Zoo. alainzoo.ae
Flybike Night Tour
There’s nothing quite like whizzing past the bright lights of an exciting city and, let’s face it, Dubai looks better at night. Hop on the back of a plush Honda Gold Wing motorcycle or tricycle and hold tight to your knowledgeable driver for a glitzy tour around some of the city’s most magical night sights.
Yes Business Center, Al Barsha, daily 7pm to 12am, Dhs480. Tel: (055) 9144052. Pick-ups offered. flybike.info
Full moon desert drumming
Feel the rhythm, dance to the beat, and may be give it a go yourself – drumming in the desert is an experience like no other. For the snare-savvy and rookie alike, this package includes drumming, a belly dancer, camel rides, sand boarding, shisha, BBQ, food and drink, alongside children’s entertainment.
Gulf Ventures Desert Camp, Dubai, 6pm to midnight. Dhs250, Dhs100, under-12s free. Tel: (056) 7442129. dubaidrums.com
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
Oman has five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, and one of the most important nesting concentrations on the Indian Ocean of the endangered green turtle. At night, the turtles drag themselves out of the water and onto the beach, dig a hole in the sand, and bury their eggs. Stay overnight at the reserve for optimal viewing time.
Ras Al Jinz, Sur, Oman, 9pm, Dhs75 for a single room. Tel: (968) 96550606. rasaljinz-turtlereserve.com
Night scuba diving
Sometimes it’s worth taking a plunge into the ocean after the sun goes down to see the critters that only come out after dark. Al Boom Diving offer a range of night dives, including one from Jumeirah Beach on Wednesdays, to see reef fish, daily shark dives in Dubai Aquarium at 7pm, and daily 6pm boat dives in Fujairah to see reef fish and octopus.
Al Boom Diving, Street 26, Al Quoz, Dubai, Sat to Thur 10am to 8pm, from Dhs150. Tel: (04) 3414940. alboomdiving.com
FITNESS AND WELL-BEING
Tackle your fitness goals at all hours (or just get a massage whenever you want).
Because sometimes you just wake up in the middle of the night desperately needing a good facial. Kempinski offers a full range of options all night long at their spa, including massages, spa facilities, facials and more.
Mall Of The Emirates, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Tel: (04) 4095909. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. kempinksi.com
Cycle autodrome at night
Wednesday nights are a free-for-all at the Dubai Autodrome. For three hours, cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers are welcomed to the 2.46km floodlit circuit. It’s free, and you can rent your gear – just remember to book.
Motor City, Dubai, Wed 6pm to 9pm, free. Tel: (04) 3678700. Taxi: Autodrome. dubaiautodrome.com
Full moon yoga
It’s a whole new level of Zen when you’re holding yourself in warrior pose underneath the light of a full moon. Talise Spa holds monthly nightly yoga sessions on the sand for all Dubai’s keen yogis.
Talise Spa Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, 7.30pm, Dhs119. Tel: (04) 3666818. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah. jumeirah.com
Full moon horse riding
If your fantasies revolve around riding a rearing stallion, as a full moon glows behind you, perhaps it’s time to indulge yourself. Full Moon Rides will have you feeling as Braveheart as you like, as you meander the Mushrif Park’s 1300 acres.
Mushrif Equestrian & Polo Club, Dubai, 8pm, Dhs300. Tel: (04) 2571256. Taxi: Mushrif. mushrifequestrianclub.wordpress.com
Glow in the dark yoga
We’ve heard of hundreds of variations on yoga, but practising in the dark is a whole new challenge. Urban Yoga’s Glow And Flow sessions include a black light, glow sticks and energetic music for an experience that just wouldn’t be the same in the day. You’ll want your fluoro lycra for this one.
Aspect Tower, Business Bay, Dubai, 7pm, Dhs80. Tel: (04) 3697882. Metro: Business Bay. urbanyoga.ae
Luxury moonlight swim at Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is exquisite at any time of day, but at night it really turns it up. Their moonlight swim package offers an evening of sheer luxury, with a 55-minute massage each and a dip in your own infinity pool adorned with rose petals, set against a soundtrack of personalised music and a beverage in-hand. You’ll be gifted a lush white checkered robe at the end, so you’ll be reminded of your luxury time at one of Dubai’s most infamous hotels. Be warned: it comes with a pretty hefty price tag for the priviledge.
Burj Al Arab, Beach Road, Dubai, Dhs7,000. Tel: (04) 3017365. Taxi: Burj Al Arab. jumeirah.com
Puma Night Run Series
There’s a casual night run after work, and then there’s a pack run with a bunch of other good sorts over the iconic illuminated Meydan Royal Bridge. For the first time in the UAE, #IGNITEDXB by Puma brings their Night Run Series to Dubai, with their next race on April 12. Emphasis is on the social aspect of the race, with an invitation for a post-race meal and drink.
The Track, Golf Clubhouse, Meydan, Dubai, 6.30pm, Dhs175, Tel: (050) 1646967. Taxi: Meydan Golf Course. supersportsuae.com
24 Fitness Dubai
A warehouse-style gym located in Al Quoz, 24 Fitness is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As well as a fully kitted out gym, they also offer lessons in kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA fighting and more.
a Warehouse 34, Al Tayer Compound, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, daily 24 hours, Dhs50 per day, Dhs500 per month, Dhs2,500 for six months, Dhs4,500 for 12 months. Tel: (04) 3383389. Taxi: 24 Fitness. 24fitnessdubai.ae
Got an attack of the late-night munchies? These venues will have you sorted long after most kitchens have shut up shop.
The Black Lion
We have to hand it to the Black Lion; they know exactly what their customers want as the line becomes blurred between “very late night” and “oh dear, can I hear birds chirping?” Their late night “lock in” menu will keep you well fed from 11.30pm to 3am, and includes pizzas, hot dogs, burgers and the like (as well as a few drinks deals).
H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 11.30pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 5018888. Metro: Trade Centre. h-hotel.com
Al Reef Bakery
For longer than we can remember, we’ve relied on this Jumeirah bakery for a late-night carb fix. Turn up at any hour of the day or night to pick up some freshly baked cheese manakeesh or a box of sweet coconut macaroons. You won’t regret it.
Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Tel: (04) 3945200. Taxi: opposite Al Wasl Square
Delicious Lebanese street food is served sharing-plates style for 24 hours a day in this quirky café. It’s one of the best places in town to satisfy the need for midnight munchies, with hummus, fried halloumi, tasty shawarmas and more. While recently branches have opened up on the Palm Jumeirah and in Dubai Marina, our first choice will always be the Sheikh Zayed Road original.
Jumeirah Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, Bur Dubai, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Tel: (04) 3276060. Metro: Emirates Towers. zaroob.net
Dine in the dark
Unless you are a badger, you likely eat with the lights on. Not so at Noire. The restaurant at Fairmont Dubai makes guests dine in the pitch black and only reveals what they’ve eaten afterwards. Why? The team aim to show we enjoy food more when we can’t see it, while saving the hotel a few dirhams on Dewa bills in the process. By depriving us of our sight, Noire makes our tastebuds work overtime to identify flavours. It’s a brilliant experience and a tasty one, too.
Fairmont Dubai, Mon to Fri 7.30pm, Dhs325 for three courses and house drinks. Tel: (04) 3118316. Metro: Trade Centre. fairmont.com
So you want a midnight snack, but something more elaborate than a shawarma? Then this fancy French restaurant, which is open 24 hours a day, should fit the bill. You’ll find La Farine in the JW Marriott Marquis, the tallest hotel in the world, and they serve everything from elaborate breakfasts to roast dinners.
JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Tel: (04) 4143000. Metro: Business Bay. jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com
Deira Night Souq
Well, the secret’s in the name, isn’t it? But there’s a catch – this one won’t be open until 2018. Construction on the Dhs1.57 billion souq is well underway on the Deira Islands, and when it opens it will be the biggest night market in the world. It will only be open after sunset, until past midnight. Where better to haggle for your spices and souvenirs?