There’s nothing quite like seeing a sporting spectacle in the flesh. From the footballing thrill of a 30-yard screamer nestling into the top corner, the beauty of the perfect golf swing or the bone-shaking satisfaction of a try-saving rugby tackle, watching drama unfold live, right before your eyes is hard to match.
But if you can’t be there in person, then sharing the highs and lows, the tears, the triumphs (and the chicken wings) with a bunch of pals at your favourite sports bar comes a pretty close runner-up.
Luckily, here in Abu Dhabi we have a host of fantastic haunts where the screens are so big and the happy hours so good that you will still feel like you’ve got the best seat in the house. And with the World Cup coming next month, what better time to round them up?
If you’re an avid sports fan, this Sheraton venue will be right up your street.
Those looking for a new place to call your “local” will find themselves right at home at this intimate pub.
Settle down in one of the inviting leather chairs and comfy sofas dotted around the cozy space and fix your gaze at one of the large screens broadcasting the best sporting clashes from all corners of the globe.
If you’re after a chilled-out spot to follow your team, then plot a course for 3rd Avenue.
An extensive menu of pub favourites, such as fish and chips and bangers and mash, make perfect matches for the friendly atmosphere and good selection of beverages.
Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel Abu Dhabi (02 692 8500).
Screen test: Two huge screens and three smaller TVs.
Blu Sky Lounge & Grill
Blue (it still has an “e” to us) is the colour and football is the game at this hot spot at the Southern Sun Abu Dhabi hotel.
While a wide variety of sports are shown here, you’ll be on home turf if you’re a fan of the beautiful game and even if more so if you back Premier League outfit Manchester City.
The bar’s blue-tinged décor pays homage to a team with plenty of Abu Dhabi connections.
Whoever you cheer for, though, you will be on target for a top time whenever you pull up a chair.
It doesn’t matter what day your team is playing, there will be a brilliant deal for you to take advantage of. And if your side has one of the new Friday night fixtures, there's a fun brunch every week, too.
Open Sun-Thu 3pm-3am, Fri-Sat noon-3am. Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Mina, Al Zahiya (02 818 4888).
Happy hour runs from noon until midnight. Every day.
We’re just saying... If you didn’t start planning your next visit as soon as you finished reading that first line we just don’t think we get you any more.
As well as that frankly staggering drinks deal (which includes craft ales available for a little over Dhs20) this British-style spot comes with a rocking atmosphere, plenty of good pub grub and, of course, a multitude of screens to catch the match on.
After the final whistle has blown, you can stay a while and enjoy the regular live musical entertainment. We’ll see you there. Anytime, really.
Open daily noon to 2.30am. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Al Salam Street, behind Khalifa Park (02 657 3333).
Play the long game: The longest happy hour in town runs from noon until midnight every day of the week.
Based in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s downtown area at the Holiday Inn, Harvesters has long been one of the top spots to hang out in and catch the game in the city.
Once you get there, you’ll see why. Big screens adorn the walls, there’s a pool tournament and pub quiz every week and a happy hour that defies belief.
Oh, and if you’re an Arsenal fan you can join your fellow Gooners for the games every week as this is the official hangout of the UAE supporters’ club in the capital.
Open noon-2am. Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi Downtown, Zayed The First Road (02 615 6666).
Baize of glory: The pub hosts a pool tournament every Monday from 8pm to 10pm, with free snacks and prizes to be won.
If we could be at Heroes just for one day, we’d pick an occasion when there is a crunch footballing clash on.
A magnet for sports lovers, this Time Out Abu Dhabi award-winning pub has developed a loyal following over the years – and it is easy to see why.
Throw in a number of widescreen TVs, plus entertainment from crowd-pleasing house band, The International Playboys, and Heroes is looking super this summer.
Open noon-4am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Hamdan Street (02 616 6132).
Irish eyes are always smiling at this popular Emerald Isle-themed haunt, and you’ll plenty to cheer about if you are a football fan, too.
The Al Raha Beach Hotel spot always guarantees a top atmosphere, hearty pub classics and pocket-friendly drinks deals, plus plenty of big screens to see the sporting drama unfold on.
You can really make a day of it too, at this perennial award-winner. From a brilliant breakfast deal and a traditional roast dinner served up on both Saturday and Sunday, you can make sure your own pre-match preparations are on point.
Leave the warm-ups to the professionals, let’s take a look at that menu instead.
Open daily noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Channel Street (02 652 4333).
NRG Sports Café
This striking bar really is a sports lovers’ dream. But don’t pinch yourself, it's true.
You will feel like you are in the driving seat for a great day or evening out as soon as you spot the flashy Formula One car perched proudly outside the bar.
Once you’re inside, the striking chrome-coloured décor will catch your eye. But your attention will soon be drawn to the gigantic screens both indoors and out.
There are also several pool tables and a dart board to keep you entertained if you fancy a spell playing rather than watching (or if your team are getting a trounced).
Open daily 4pm-2am. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiya (02 644 6666).
Happy days: It’s happy hour all day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with the discount deals running from 4pm until 7pm from Thursday to Sunday.
It’s always fun and games at Abu Dhabi’s original Irish pub – which is still one of the best haunts in town.
The warm and welcome watering-hole always provides some great ‘craic’ whenever you pay a visit, with a vast selection of draught hops on tap, pool tournaments every Wednesday and Saturday and even a hop pong table to enjoy.
When you are in the mood for watching rather than playing, you will always find the match of the day on display on the array of TV screens and lots of good company to enjoy it with.
Plus, you won’t go thirsty while the footy is on, as PJ’s always has great drink deals to ensure your happy hour lasts at least 90 minutes.
Open Sat-Wed, noon-2am, Thu-Fri, noon-3am. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (800 101 101).
Porters English pub
This corner of England in the Middle East is the perfect place to see the high-octane drama of Premier League football in full flow.
Talking of full flow, there are plenty of beverage deals and a tasty menu to tackle while you’re there.
The spacious venue is a favourite with music fans due to its evenings of live entertainment, but it also hits the right note with sports aficionados thanks to its selection of crystal clear TV screens hanging high on the walls.
For an authentic British pub feel while you watch the footie with your mates, Porters should feature prominently on your social schedule. And even your sports-hating other half will appreciate the smoke-free, screen-free upstairs bar (that’s if you manage to drag them along at all).
Open daily noon-3am. Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 495 3936).
On cloud nine: The watering-hole serves up a nine-hour daily happy hour, from 3pm until midnight, with selected beverages for Dhs22.
Stars ’N’ Bars Abu Dhabi
This American-style bar brought all the way to Abu Dhabi from glitzy Monaco breaks down those international barriers by speaking the universal language of sport.
It’s fun, colourful and has an ample supply of screens showing sports from all corners of the globe.
If sport is happening somewhere in the world, whatever day it is, you will find it here. It is our Time Out Abu Dhabi Music and Nightlife Awards Sports Bar of the Year for good reason.
The snazzy venue has great deals and events on tap, including a chance to enjoy a different brunch every day of the week, a Tuesday pub quiz and an arcade night. It’s pretty much always fun and games at Stars 'N’ Bars.
Open daily 11.30am-3.30am. Yas Marina (02 565 0101).
Game on: Enjoy a different kind of contest every Monday, with free arcade games all night. Ladies also get three complimentary beverages from 9pm until 2am.
Stills Bar & Brasserie
This stylish Yas Island venue is home to the longest bar in Abu Dhabi (coming in at an impressive 26m) so there is a good chance you will always find a seat.
With its classy interior reminiscent of a sleek Manhattan night spot, you might not have Stills marked down as a destination to cheer on your favourite team with your pals.
But with TV screens both inside the swish bar and outside on the pleasant terrace, and a menu crammed with snacks and hearty pub fare (including tasty chicken wings and classic fish and chips), Stills Bar & Brasserie measures up well against the competition.
It won’t get rowdy either, which is a definite plus for some.
Open Sun-Wed 3pm-1am, Thu 3pm-3am, Fri noon-3am, Sat noon-3am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island (02 656 3000).
Gentleman’s agreement: Enjoy an outing with the lads at Stills’ Men’s night on Saturdays and Sundays. Dhs199 gets you get three beverages, an appetiser and a main course.
Size really does matter at Tavern Pub. The authentic English-style pub certainly has a lot to boast about as it is home to a gargantuan TV screen measuring in at 102 inches.
You’ll see every blade of glass on the pitch with a screen that huge. It’s a great selling point for sports lovers, but it’s far from the only reason to take a trip down, the happy hour deal is far from titchy either.
Every Saturday to Wednesday, you can buy beverages for just Dhs20 from 8pm until 1am. Every Saturday and Sunday night is Champ’s Night, with four bottles of hops served up for Dhs119. We’re “champing” at the bit.
Open Fri-Wed noon-2am, Thu noon-2.30am. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, Corniche Road (02 677 3333).
Famous five: You get in the drinks for just Dhs20 for five hours straight – from 8pm until 1am – from Saturday through to Wednesday.
The Sportsman’s Arms
With a title like this (added to the fact it’s located in Zayed Sports City) you would expect to get more than your fill of sporting action here.
And, thankfully, you’d be right. As well as a top-class menu of American-Irish influenced grub, the bar nestled away in the International Tennis Center serves up a wide range of drink options and has a bank of TV screens, both in snug booths and in the central bar area.
So if you want a little privacy while you pull your hair out at your team’s on-field calamities, we suggest the former (we can’t guarantee your screams won’t be heard, though).
Open Sun 7am-11.30pm. First Floor, International Tennis Center, Zayed Sports City (02 447 1066).
Swing by this golf resort bar for a high-class sporting experience. While there are only a handful of screens here, quality more than makes up for the lack of quantity.
It’s not just a great choice to gather around for the latest golfing major, fans of all sports are well catered for.
The laid-back watering-hole has three large LED screens dotted around the bar, ensuring guests always have a good view of the action.
You can have an ace time without spending all your wedge by taking advantage of the wallet-pleasing happy hour deal, with beverage prices slashed by 40 percent from Thursday through to Sunday.
You won’t ever feel like making a hasty retreat.
Open daily noon-1am. Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).
Get a round in: Beverage prices are slashed by 40 percent from sunset to midnight from Sunday to Thursday.
This cool restaurant, lounge and bar is a dining destination, buzzing night life attraction and busy sports bar all rolled into one, depending on when you pop in.
If you choose to head on down when there’s a big match on, you won’t be disappointed. The vibrant venue is crammed wall-to-wall with TV screens (38, they say), so you’ll see every shot, serve, swing and try in glorious high definition, even when you’re ordering at the bar.
The Downtown hangout is rapidly turning itself into a firm favourite with its fantastic array of promotions including glasses of grape for Dhs10 (quite how they manage that baffles us!) with the big match on a Monday and a 12-hour happy hour from Thursday to Saturday.
You’ll be keen to stay for more than a quick drink.
Sun-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am, Sat noon-2am. Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street (02 304 7777).
Victor’s might be the new kid on the block in Abu Dhabi, but it is already proving a real winner. Loud, proud and plenty of fun, the Hilton Capital Grand bar has been causing a buzz thanks to its rip-roaring atmosphere and array of cash-saving deals.
The impressive island bar, with a big TV screen as its centre piece, shows you immediately that this place means business.
There are other screens dotted around the sprawling venue, with a split off area with dart boards once you’re finished with the game.
It might be new in town, but Victor’s is already displaying Premier League quality that could relegate its rivals to the second tier.
Open daily noon-2.30am. Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street (02 666 5508).