A new season of football is about to kick off across Europe. Just as clubs have been scouring the transfer market looking for new star players Time Out Abu Dhabi has had a busy off season, too.
We’ve been talking to our scouts and crunching the numbers to bring you the guide to the best spots to watch sports in Abu Dhabi. Not just football either, with many of the island’s pubs, bars and lounges happily broadcasting everything from athletics and rugby to wrestling.
Whoever you support and no matter what your hopes for the season ahead, check out the list of top spots for watching sports.
Still less than a year old, Barosa is already starting to make waves in Abu Dhabi’s nightlife scene. Nominated as one of the city’s top new nightspots at our Nightlife Awards, it is a friendly spot to view games and is actively setting its stall out as a sporting venue. Pool tables, dart boards and video games will keep you entertained and there are regular drinks deals on match days.
Screens: Two large projector screen and three flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup and boxing.
Open daily noon-3am. Ramada Downtown Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah (056 641 4978).
Champions League Experience
The only venue in the city that sets its stall out as a custom-built football viewing venue is a major addition to dining and entertainment at Yas Mall. With a built-in Champions League museum with loads of artefacts and signed merchandise to buy, and a games area with stadium and regular contests, it is actually worth visiting even when no matches are being screened. Turn up at match time, however, and you can see games on the ludicrously large 193” and 161” projector screens. Alcohol is not served.
Screens: Two giant projector screens and six flat screen LED TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, Moto GP, tennis, golf, cricket, basketball and more.
Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 565 0572).
Often packed and always atmospheric, the British-style pub at the Park Rotana is one of the busiest bars in Abu Dhabi. Regular deals and good service are among the reasons why. Ladies’ nights before Monday and Wednesday matches add to the popularity and daily happy hours help generate a buzzing atmosphere for key games. Some of the side screens aren’t ideally positioned for watching matches but watch on the giant projectors and you won’t go far wrong.
Screens: Four projector screens and four flat screens.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, F1, tennis.
Open noon-2.30am. Park Rotana, Salam Street, opposite Khalifa Park (02 657 3333).
Fifth Street Café
This café concept lounge’s direct connectivity to the World Trade Centre Mall in Abu Dhabi is a stroke of genius. It gives shoppers the chance to escape another round of impulsive purchases and the chance to check out for a couple of hours while the big game is on. The setting is more like a hotel lobby café – that is essentially what this place is – but it does have a bar and screens football matches, making this one of the more convenient places to watch games for many avid footy fans living in the capital.
Screens: Three TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup and F1.
Open daily 7am-1am. Courtyard Marriott Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 698 2222).
Winner stays on rules on the pool table, bowls of peanuts handed out with drinks, a well maintained darts area and even a ‘drinks-pong’ table to hone new sporting skills on – there are many good reasons why this Holiday Inn pub is popular with some expats. The venue has been selected by Abu Dhabi’s Arsenal supporters’ club as the official place to watch games this season – turn up on game night to soak up the atmosphere and it is easy to see why. Also popular for rugby league and union.
Screens: One projector screen and seven flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, ARL and NRL finals.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2.30am; Thu-Fri noon-3am. Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi Downtown, Madinat Zayed (02 615 6666).
Named after novelist Ernest Hemingway, there is a loose Cuban feel to this Hilton Abu Dhabi nightspot. Not that you’d really notice if your eyes are glued to one of the ten screens showing English, German and Spanish leagues, and European cup competitions. Look out for meal and drink deals on match days and be sure to get fired up by house band ‘The Spitfires’ before late night matches and after the Saturday fixtures. Depending on your team’s performance the dancing could be celebratory or despairing. The Sunday quiz starts after the footy finishes so hang around for that. The Mexican food served here is also really good.
Screens: One projector for major events and nine TV screens.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, F1, boxing.
Open daily noon-4am. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Al Khubeirah (02 692 4247).
Consistently busy and routinely atmospheric, there is often a crowd at this Abu Dhabi sport specialist. Best enjoyed for big international matches it is still lively for league games. A strong Irish influence means there are often Gaelic sports screened and a Monday night quiz is a passable way to spend the time before late kick offs begin. For a good singalong atmosphere with your sport you could do a lot worse than visit this Crowne Plaza pub.
Screens: One projector screen and 13 TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, horse racing, GAA, tennis, cycling and more.
Open daily noon-2am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Street (02 616 6132).
A stylish and understated bar and restaurant in Bani Yas. It doesn’t scream sports bar like some lounges and pubs in the city and for many that will be a welcome decision. Rather this is a modern lounge area – complete with sleek furnishings and minimal décor – that happens to show football as well. You might not get the pre-match vibe of a more traditional pub but to see games with good food and comforting surroundings it is well worth a look.
Screens: Six LCD TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, tennis, golf, cricket, racing and more.
Open daily 2pm-2am. Mafraq Hotel, Bani Yas (02 659 6666).
Talk about a great debut season. At the start of the 2015-16 football season McGettigan’s will be little more than a year old and it has already been crowned Best Sports Bar at the inaugural Time Out Abu Dhabi Nightlife Awards. Good food, loads of large TVs and a buzzing atmosphere can all be expected at the popular Irish pub. There are even regular showings of Gaelic football and other sports, as well as the full gamut of games from England, Spain, Italy, Germany and even the US.
Screens: One giant screen and 18 HD flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup and other major sporting events available on request.
Open daily noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Raha Beach (02 652 4333).
This self-titled sports café sets out its stall very simply – the whole vibe is geared up around watching live matches from around the world. The centrepiece is the enormous 6m x 4m screen – the largest in Abu Dhabi apparently – giving a virtually cinematic experience to football. Just to emphasise the point that this is a perky sports bar there is sporting memorabilia adorning the walls and there is a replica F1 car in the entrance. There are a couple of pool tables and a darts board and you’re always likely to see fans huddled over a platter of sport themed but diet-busting foods.
Screens: Three projectors and 11 flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, F1, cricket, Volvo Ocean race and more major competitions.
Open daily 4pm-2am.Le Meridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah (02 644 666).
This homely establishment is a bit of a favourite with the expat crowd – especially the Irish community. PJs is an old Abu Dhabi standby that can be counted on for good food and cold brews. Walking through its doors is like entering a wormhole and being deposited in an anonymous pub in the heart of Britain a few years before the smoking ban. There’s always a good selection of hoppy beverage and hearty pub grub, and big-screen sporting action is always guaranteed to keep the many punters happy. The drinks are cheap, there is always a football match in eyeline and the fish and chips are divine.
Screens: One big screen and lots of other flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby, golf
Open daily noon-2am. Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 674 2020).
The décor might be more musical than sporting – with band and singer photos adorning most walls but don’t doubt the big-game credentials here. Extreme happy hour coincides with matches on weekends giving this Al Wahda pub a head start in the value stakes. You should also look out for the quizzes and special games as well to add a competitive edge to your football viewing.
Screens: Three big flat screens and eight TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, F1, cricket, Volvo Ocean race and more major competitions.
Open noon-3am. Grand Millenium Al Wahda, Al Wahda (02 495 3936).
Stars ‘N’ Bars
Modelled on a famous Monte Carlo nightspot, this bar has excellent sporting credentials, overlooking, as it does, an F1 track and luxury marina. The setting is, frankly, stunning and regular entertainment and superior American foods (look out for giant rib platters) make Stars ‘N’ Bars worthy of a visit any time. Don’t be put off by all the additional extras – this is a great place to watch sports as well. Abu Dhabi’s Man United fans watch games here and with more than 20 screens you’ll always find a good view. What’s more, there are regular in-match drink deals, pool and table football tables and even a space to play ‘drinks-pong’.
Screens: One projector, one plasma and approximately 24 flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, tennis, golf, F1, Super bowl.
Open daily Sun-Wed noon-1.30am; Thu-Sat noon-2.30am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
Yes there are some big screens, yes there is a very long bar and service is good, yes there are loads of sporting events on an almost constant cycle. But there is another very good reason for heading over to Yas Island to watch games at the Crowne Plaza. Stills has the city’s best pub food and no matter what is happening in the match the pie alone is reason to celebrate.
Screens: One large projector (for important games) and two flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, cricket, American football, tennis, golf, basketball and more.
Open daily noon-1am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Island (02 656 3066).
Don’t let the name of the Armed Forces Officers’ Club hotel fool you into thinking this is a militaristic establishment. A more friendly, welcoming and relaxed location you are unlikely to find to watch sports. The stated theme is of a Mexican-style tavern but on match days it’s more like a British pub with attention focused on the large high definition screens. There are a couple of pool tables and a dartboard to keep you entertained before and after matches.
Screens: Four 4k HD TVs (two of which are large 84” displays).
Other sports: Rugby World Cup and cricket.
Open daily noon-midnight. Armed Forces Officers’ Club, Al Maqtaa (02 497 5211).
As an alternative to a hotel lounge or pub this Abu Dhabi institution is a great option. At more than 50-years-old it is actually older than the UAE itself and has been around to screen sport since before England won the World Cup. There are facilities to play football and regular competitions as well as table football and darts board facilities. Members can receive a weekly email to explain exactly what sports are going to be shown (loads is the answer). New members are welcome and the atmosphere is not cliquey, making this a good option for football viewing with a sense of community and belonging.
Screens: Six plasma screens and four smaller screens.
Other sports: Major sporting events and others available on request.
Open daily noon-midnight. Mina Saadiyat (02 673 1111).
This sports bar combines the feel of a members’ club at a luxury golf course with the luxury five star service of a Westin hotel. Compared to other venues around the city the number of just four screens won’t blow you away but sit upon the high stools or snack on the tasty food and you won’t grumble. More like watching a match in a stadium’s corporate boxes than down on the terraces. Facing, as it does, the Westin’s golf course it should come as no surprise to learn this is a good spot to see televised golf as well.
Screens: Four LED TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, golf, athletics and more.
Open daily noon-1am. Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).
The Tavern Pub
A massive 102” screen takes centre stage at this British-style pub in the Sheraton Abu Dhabi. Aside from the vastly superior viewing experience the ambience is pretty authentic with wooden ceilings, exposed brick walls and pub grub. There is lots of seating and you may well see a live band before or after matches. We’ve always found this to be a good spot for rugby internationals and you should check out the Rugby World Cup here when it kicks off with England vs Fiji on Friday, September 18.
Screens: One giant 102” screen plus five more flat screens. .
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, F1, tennis.
Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Abu Dhabi, Corniche West (02 677 3333).
The words chic, trendy and stylish don’t always go with sports bar but somehow this Yas Island watering hole manages to pull it off. The sense of style – call it a tika taka sports bar if you like – is probably why this has started to become a popular spot for Spanish expats to watch La Liga games. Depending what day you turn up there are promotions for ladies, cabin crew and hospitality workers but the buy-one-get-one free deal on selected drinks on a Sunday is probably best suited to football fans.
Screens: One projector screen (used for special events only) and seven flat screen TVs.
Other sports: Rugby World Cup, tennis, F1, golf and more.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am; Thu-Fri noon-3am. Yas Island Rotana (02 656 4000).