Abu Dhabi is the epitome of Middle East-meets-West, so if you’re planning to come you’ll probably read and hear a lot about beaches, malls and bars. Among them are some fantastic little gems that took me over two years to find out about, so if you’re going, look them up!
1. The Filipino Band – Captain’s Arms, Le Meridien: Captain’s is a fantastic pub for many reasons; the staff are the friendliest I have met here, the booze is reasonably priced, the outdoor area is really pretty and has a Christmassy feel all year round, but best of all is the three piece Filipino band who go from table to table serenading you as you drink. The can sing anything from the Beatles to Oasis [well!] and add an amazing vibe to the place. Tip them and they will hang around for a while – well worth your 20dh!
A night-time cycle along the Corniche: Very, very occasionally my friends and I tire of the weekend drink-hangover-drink-hangover cycle and opt for something different. Usually this doesn’t get any more “out there” than the cinema or a game of bowling, but one evening we decided to cycle along the Corniche.
It’s a really beautiful anyway, and the cycle was just somehow peaceful. A nice break from the pace of city life and thoroughly enjoyable in good company.
3. 24-hour McDonalds: No matter where you’ve spent your evening of drinking and debauchery, the best way to end it is at 24-hour McDonalds, especially if you’re on a girls night out. Pretty much every guy that has been out will stop there between 12 and 6am, with a rough ratio of 150 guys to every girl. I’m lovin’ it.it's still well worth it to go and get one of these babies!”]
4. The Filipino Club
I’m sure this place has a proper name but damned if I know it. Turn right after Le Meridien and ask for it. Go on. Sometimes the best things in life happen by chance. We first ended up in this place when the club we were meant to go to next door turned out to be the secret gay spot of Abu Dhabi [not that any of us had an issue with that – just not what we were looking for on the night]
Excellent live band, cheap shots and almost completely free of sleazy Arabs, this is the ideal venue for a messy night out!
5. Taxi journeys: Abu Dhabi is not a city you can get around easily by foot, but that’s okay because taxi’s are ridiculously cheap and the taxi drivers are fantastic craic [if you’re reading this and you’re American that roughly translates to “they’re like, totally awesome”] Everyone loves to talk to the taxi man after a night out at home “Hellooooooo Mister Taxi Man……” and wouldn’t you know it the banter goes on here too!
Full of life advice and experience, most taxi drivers like the Irish “Good people, ya? But cold country? Too much rain! And you coming good now with the cricket” … “I couldn’t tell ya mate, all I know is we beat England last year and that is all I need to know!”
My latest journey to Dubai included a long lecture on the fact that I was too old to be unmarried at 23 “In Pakistan, now 23, you marry you have two children” and that when I do marry to remember “Husband, he is for the money. Wife, she is for the husband.” I know several people who would agree that many a night the banter with the taxi man has been the highlight of the night!
Now it’s not that I don’t enjoy the 5* hotel, Lambourghini lifestyle over here, but the simplest things are often best!