Ah, the local pub: there is certainly something comforting about it. Fight your way through a sea of swaying bodies to reach a rickety stool spied through thick plumes of smoke, only to find your cry of “the usual!” is met by a blank stare from your surly neighbourhood barman. Bliss.
But now and again, the urge strikes to venture outside Abu Dhabi’s stalwart saloons. So, if you’re off on a road trip this week, here’s where to stop off at...
1. Al Ain Rugby Club
If you should ever find yourself in the UAE’s fourth-biggest city and in need of refreshment, you could do (much) worse than this sanctuary for fans of the oval ball. The friendly home of the Al Ain Amblers is bedecked by prerequisite trophies and signed shirts. The bar is small and can get busy, but guests can head outside to sit in stands overlooking the pitch.
Open Sun-Wed 11am-midnight; Thu-Sat 9am-2am. Al Ain (03 702 6431).
2. Copper Dog, Dubai
Despite the Dubai branch of this Scottish import being located on the edge of a palm-fringed beach, it has retained the cosy, charming character that made the original (in the windswept Scottish highlands) so famous. Think panelled ceilings, dark wood floors, exposed stonework, heavy rugs and leather armchairs. The menu of Scottish malts, gastropub-style food and acoustic nights combine to make this a top spot.
Open Sun-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat 10am-2am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, JBR (04 559 5355).
3. Long’s Bar, Dubai
Fun fact: Long’s Bar up at the Towers Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road is officially the longest bar in Dubai. Because of its jack-of-all-trades style, it manages to cater to a lot of tastes at once. Despite being a strange hybrid of restaurant, sports bar, smoking lounge, live music venue and club, it still feels comfortable. Plus, its decent food and all-day happy hours on Mondays and Wednesdays offering Dhs25 drinks make Long’s worth a look.
Open daily noon-3am. Towers Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 312 2202).
4. McGettigan’s Fujairah
You’ve been to the award-winning Abu Dhabi outlet so don’t expect any surprises from this powerhouse brand’s offering on the Gulf of Oman coastline. The dark interior, bookcases and chopped logs are all there. McGettigan’s hasn’t dominated the country’s pub scene by changing approach across its venues. And with an Al Ain outlet just opened, your attempts to resist its reign are futile.
Open Sun-Wed 3pm-1am; Thu 3pm-2am; Fri noon-2am; Sat noon-1am. Fujairah Tennis and Country Club (09 224 4880).
5. The Copper Lobster, Fujairah
This fishy haunt features a London-style gastro bar with a Russian mixologist who creates his own mixed drinks and mocktails from locally sourced herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant is inspired by San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, so ditch pub-style fish and chips for fresh Omani lobster.
Open daily 7pm-11pm. Fairmont Fujairah (09 204 1111).
6. Sherlock Holmes, Dubai
Of all the themed bars in Dubai, surely one based on the Victorian detective is going to be up there? Sherlock Holmes has the added benefit of being extremely pocket-friendly, too. Drinks are available for Dhs20 during happy hour, which makes this an ideal spot to hang out in after a look around Old Dubai.
Open daily 9am-2pm, 6pm-1am. Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, Al Fahidi Street (04 351 9111).
7. The Irish Village, Dubai
Time Out Dubai’s current Pub of the Year is a true Dubai institution. A pint here will set you back around Dhs36, the huge garden is second-to-none, and its invariably buzzing atmosphere is further enhanced by the almost-constant line-up of brilliant live music. The food is good, too (try the toasties).
Open Sat-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-2am. Garhoud (04 282 4750).
8. The Underground Pub, Dubai
This quirky little pub, themed on the London Underground, possesses an inimitable charm. It’s somewhere between a platform on the Northern Line, a small-town British recreational club and a brilliant Dubai bar. It’s got everything a good watering hole needs: beverages, bar sports, big TVs and a decent food menu to boot.
Open daily noon-3am. Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection – Dubai Marina (04 408 4257).
9. Village English Pub, Al Hamra, RAK
Its exterior jars against the traditional, almost fort-like surrounds of the Al Hamra resort, while the neat interior is more North American bar than English or Irish pub, though bar staff do take your pint seriously.
Open daily 1pm-midnight. Al Hamra Village Golf and Beach Resort, Ras Al Khaimah (07 206 7222).
10. World Cup Bar, Ajman
Our obsession with football borders on unhealthy, so when we find a bar filled with club shirts, flags and TV screens lit up by the world’s top players, we get comfy. If you get tired of replays, head outside to try watersports or relax by the gigantic pool.
Open daily 5pm-2am. Kempinski Hotel Ajman (06 714 5555).