A View from the City: Dubai

30 May, 2014

Where does Dubai’s bar scene take its influence?

Many bars and bartenders look to the classic great bar culture cities of London and New York. However, any advanced and competent bartender must look to create trends, rather than merely follow them, if they really want to gain recognition and status. Although the depth of culture and abundance and variety of natural products and resources is not as rich as in other parts of the world, I still feel it’s important to explore and experiment and make the most of what you have to hand. 

Do the locals drink or is it more expats and holidaymakers?

The subject of whether locals drink alcohol is a little sensitive. I think everyone who has worked in or even visited Dubai will know it definitely happens, but to varying degrees. At Zuma we do not permit the wearing of local dress within the bar at any time. We enforce this policy out of respect for the local culture and traditions and to protect the local people. Expats and holidaymakers are big advocates of the enjoyment of alcohol in various forms. For a country which has relatively restrictive laws on alcohol, the overall consumption within the UAE is great.

What are your hopes and aspirations for Dubai’s bar scene?

I would like to see more smaller, cool boutique venues popping up. More real industry people involved in making the big decisions when building and establishing venues. More attention to detail and more daring to do things a little bit differently. As Dubai is developing, more and more people are choosing to come to these shores to set up homes and businesses. They are bringing with them new ideas and angles on how to do things. Currently quite a few of the trends that were big in the 90s in London are still thriving here – bottles, tables, sparklers, high-volume cocktails and globally known classics. More bars that are aimed at the more discerning and educated drinking clientele would definitely be a welcome progression and change.

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Nick Strangeway

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