Nightlife in Abu Dhabi

IExpats will find that Abu Dhabi has a thriving nightlifen a country with a population of only 20 percent locals, foreign pockets abound and the nightlife in Abu Dhabi reflects this.

As most expats immediately realise, there are two centres to the Abu Dhabi social scene: the mall and the hotel. Malls are places to see and be seen, to go to the cinema, or to shop. Hotels have everything else, and all under one roof: happy hour, dinner, drinks and the nightclub.  

Islamic culture does not affect the nightlife scene, even during Ramadan, when the observant fast all day and take it easy at night. During this holy time malls still bustle until 3am, and the liquor stores still open their doors.

Nightlife in Abu Dhabi

When work lets out, one will find various segments of the expat community gathered around the local hotel bars (liquor licences are a must). From chic to old school, there are plenty of watering holes on offer.

For ladies, every evening of the week is an occasion to take advantage of an Abu Dhabi nightlife staple - "Ladies Nights". 

For those who are interested in shisha and a beer, there are also plenty of options.

Performing arts, cinema and intellectual pursuits

While hotel bar house bands tend to be the most consistent form of music and theatre in Abu Dhabi, there are some world-class acts that come and go with some regularity. Every April, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance) organises a full weekend of international headliners. After the summer, the Abu Dhabi Classics season brings in orchestras from around the world, such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Every mall has a cinema playing box office favourites from Holly(and sometimes Bolly)wood, but only the El Dorado on Electra Street, with its glitzy neon façade and films in Tamil and Malayalam, can transport a person back to the 1960s — with décor to match.

The New York University Abu Dhabi Institute also hosts occasional film screenings that would appeal to a more high-brow crowd. This is in addition to their extensive programme of public lectures given by visiting and local authors, politicians, musicians, and scholars from across the academic spectrum.

Our Abu Dhabi Expert

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Pennsylvania, the USA. Abu Dhabi, the UAE
Adam Valen Levinson is the founder of, a literary and satirical travelog about places you want to go and... more