Dubai has amazing architecture, great shopping, and sights to please every palate. There are also has plenty of things to do in Dubai at night! It is easy to see why it is one of the most popular places to visit in the Middle East. Visitors find it nothing short of wonderful to explore and experience its many attractions by foot, car, tram, or metro – under the warmth of sunny skies.
But when the sun goes down and the lights come on, the city undergoes a complete transformation, as illumination is added into the mix. There are so many unusual things to do in Dubai at night, it will seem completely different from daylight hours.
Spread across the city, from Jebel Ali to Al Nahda, stately skylines soar up against dark skies. Buildings that are majestic by day become magnificent when lit up, while bridges twinkle with coloured lights. Even palm trees look poetic, with their snug wrappings of fairy lights.
Dubai’s night life is a great way to get introduced to this famous city – and to get mesmerised in the process. Here are the top things to do in Dubai at night.
Top Things to do in Dubai at Night
Drive across Sheikh Zayed Road
The list of things to do in Dubai at night starts with a drive across the arterial Sheikh Zayed Road. Some of the world’s most stunning architecture and some of the country’s most impressive car showrooms line either side, along with residential blocks and commercial enclaves housing busy cafes, spas, stores, showrooms, and restaurants. Shopping mall stops include Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, and Ibn Batutta. If it sounds like a lot to take in, it simply is, but the road will become almost omniscient as you head someplace or the other.
Marvel at The Palm, Jumeirah
While the man-made island in the shape of a palm tree is both pleasing and astonishing, this aspect of Dubai nightlife also makes it a rare experience. The sightseeing begins on the Trunk, with its mix of Arabesque apartment blocks and uber luxurious villas. Dipping down into a long stretch of under-sea tunnel, the Crescent is where things become a crescendo. You will be left agape with the imposing and illuminated facades of the world’s most famous hotel and resort brands, any of which you can visit. Dramatic photo stops include the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa illuminated in the distance.
Discover 2nd December Street, Satwa
One of Dubai’s oldest and most vital streets, the former Diyafah Street is also one of the UAE’s most historic, as it culminates at Union House – a landmark sporting a gigantic flag between street and sea, where the unification of the country was signed on 2 December in 1971.
Take a stroll or drive sedately to discover the many treats on this 2,500 metre long street: all-night restaurants, outdoor cafes, water-pipe (sheesha) centres, small stores, and quaint service providers. Studying the bedazzling signage of flashing red, green and blue lights is definitely one of the things to do in Dubai at night. When hunger calls, stop at any one of the legendary and extremely affordable eateries: Ravi Restaurant (Indo-Pakistani), Al Mallah (Arabic-Levantine), Golden Fork (Filipino-international).
Visit Mamzar Beach Park, Al Mamzar
The quiet residential district of Al Mamzar in Deira rarely makes it to a list of things to do in Dubai at night, but it really should. Located close to Hamriya Port, the 106-acre park has a pool, a train, bicycles, barbecues, food kiosks, lagoons, children’s play areas, picnic alcoves and private cottages for rent, set by a vast expanse of sheltered beach. Located between park and port is the Mamzar Corniche, where the neighbouring city of Sharjah serves as a stunning, shimmering backdrop for instantly-loved social media posts.
Go to Hatta Fort Hotel, Hatta
It may sound adventurous to leave the bustling city and drive to the peaceful Hajar Mountains, but when you are an out-of-towner, you must visit an out-of-town location, with passport in tow. About an hour from the city are swathes of Oman territory (and international border check-posts) before the Hatta enclave of Dubai looms up.
The warm and welcoming hotel has strutting peacocks, chalet rooms, floodlight courts and manicured lawns, and many lures for a stayover: archery, clay shooting, tennis and mini-golf. The restaurant comes alive at eventide, and sitting snug surrounded by mountains over a hot dinner is a unique thing to do in Dubai at night.
Experience Al Sufouh Road in Dubai at Night
Residents who use this road every day don’t really get to enjoy it, but visitors traversing the same length at night are in for inspiring and impressive sights that make this one of the top things to do in Dubai at night. See the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and the wave-shaped Jumeriah Beach Hotel up close, or choose from dozens of dining and shopping options at the Madinat Jumeirah complex.
Further south, a stretch of private palace compounds are marked by the symmetry of long walls mounted with lamps, and sprawling beach resort complexes. On the opposite side are the many lit and logo-decked buildings of Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.
Be seen at Billionaire’s Mansion, Taj Dubai
One of the newest and hippest additions to Dubai’s night life is former Formula One boss Flavio Briatore’s entertainment concept which combines fantastical creatures and explosive dances in an interactive format, while you savour rustic Asian, Italian, or fusion fare. The showcase called Sauvage is on every Wednesday and Saturday from 9pm to 5am, and Dubai’s edition is definitely a magnet for the world’s A-listers.
Head to The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence
This 1.7 kilometre stretch of flag-stoned, sea-side road is one of the best showcases of Dubai night life. There is seemingly a whole world on parade, as people browse in boutiques, eat al fresco, stride across in sportswear, or stroll past kiosks, cafes, pop-up shops, and art installations. Join them or watch them, and weave you way alongside scores of designer cars and luxury motorcycles.
Dance through the night in Deira or Bur Dubai
Dotting the Deira and Bur Dubai districts is an underground network of Arabic night clubs, Indian dance bars, and African dance studios. Even one visit is an integral part of experiencing Dubai night life, with an ideal start time of 11pm. Top picks include Ahlam Night Club, Chingari, Sawari Indian Club, and Ponana African Night Club
Shop in some old souks
Far removed from modern malls, Dubai’s traditional souks (marketplaces) with its immersive sightseeing and bargain offers attract avid Dubai souvenir shoppers, diligent photographers and culture vultures. You can buy almost anything at these old markets for less than what you expect to pay: gold jewellery, silk scarves, carpets, textiles, perfumes, spices and souvenirs. Spice Souk, Textile Souk, Gold Souk, Souk Murshid and Souk Naif are located close to each other.
More Dubai Travel Resources
If Dubai is your first taste of the Middle East, it is important to research a bit more into where you are going. Always adhere and respect the country’s traditions and cultural norms. Even if they are not in line with your own. you are a guest, and throughout most of the Middle East, you will be treated with respect, but keep in mind the cultural appropriateness of your behaviour and dress.
What to Wear in Dubai
When it comes to Dubai, you will see locals and residents dress modestly. The only ones you will see in short shorts are tourists. Depending on the area, dress will be a bit different. When in the hotel and at the beach, beachwear is fine. But when visiting Old Dubai, ensure you dress modestly. For women, pants and shirts with sleeves are recommended.
I have always been a guide book person and physically having that book in your hand as you plan your day, in addition to blogs like this one, can help immensely. Pick up a Lonely Planet Guide to Dubai (or the kindle version) before your trip to Jordan.
Whether you want to keep the sun off your head or want to show a little modesty, a scarf goes a long way in the Middle East any time of the year. You can bring one with you or pick up one when you arrive, but don’t leave your hotel in the morning without it! It can serve as a hat to keep the sun off your head and neck in the summer and can add some warmth in winter and can offer modesty to cover shoulders for women.
A Grayl Water Bottle is something I recommend for every traveller, not just those going to the Middle East. Some people say the water is safe to drink from the tap, others say it is not; it is not something I am going to chance.
If you consider drinking at least 1-2 big water bottles a day while you are there, think of how much plastic that creates when every visitor and local. With a Grayl, you can filter any tap water (or actually any water source) and have clean drinking water in seconds. Since most people travel with water bottles already, consider one like this with a filter so that you are not just pouring from big water bottles to small. It might sound expensive, but when you compare it to spending a few dollars per day on water while you travel (and do not forget how expensive the water is inside airports), you will pay for this very quickly.
An inexpensive Universal Travel Adapter is another must for Jordan. You will find an assortment of 220V plugs, from European 2 pin, another style of 2 pin and UK Plugs. While European 2 pin is most common, it is best to carry one of these adapters with you. With a handy USB input, you do not need to bring your plugs from home.
Sunscreen and moisturizer are musts when visiting the Middle East. The air is very dry. Do yourself a favor and grab some of this as well. Your lips will thank you!