Insider: How much does it really cost to be a socialite in Dubai?

Pursuing a Dubai “dream” lifestyle and keeping up with the latest party trends can easily cost you a very pretty penny
Insider: How much does it really cost to be a socialite in Dubai?
Image for illustrative purposes only.
By Salma Awwad
Tue 11 Nov 2014 03:03 PM

Extreme Dubai: Keeping up with appearances in this city seems to be part of its gravitational pull to many. Living the Dubai “glamour” lifestyle does not come cheap, however. We sat with several socialites and well-known night owls that pride themselves for being bonafide FOMOs (having the Fear Of Missing Out) to crack into the real numbers required to lead such a seemingly desirable lifestyle. Here is a summary of our astonishing findings:

Party people and social butterflies categorise major outings into two segments: OTT dining out and frivolous partying. (OTT: over the top).

Let’s address the OTT dining out first. There seems to be a strong unified opinion of the current top five places to see and be seen: La Petite Maison (also known as LPM if you’re in the know), Roberto’s, Zuma, La Serre and Sass Café.

Dinning out usually takes place four times a week for the average socialite. Guys pay for girls. And the average bill for two people plus drinks usually ranges from AED1,100 ($300) to AED1,500 ($410) in Zuma’s case.    

Usually the set-up is made of a few guys and girls and when the bill arrives, it is split amongst the guys. If a guy arrives without a partner, he still has the responsibility of splitting the bill equally with the rest of the guys and thus taking the hit for a friend’s partner. It is a silent code, one that is adopted as common sense in such social circles. 

And so the numbers pile up.

Next, let’s tackle the topic of frivolous partying. Entering into a club or lounge is usually tricky business. You have to either go as a couple and wait in line, or opt for booking a table. However, table reservations might vary in prices and availabilities depending on how much of a regular you are at that specific venue. It’s a long term commitment, and a habit that can significantly limit choices you have when it comes to your pass time activities.  

The top five options when it comes to the nightlife scene are VIP ROOM, Blue Marlin, Cavalli Club, White and Iris. (The Act was debatable and Pacha is a very likely runner up, but it’s too soon to tell).

Partying is a staple in a night owl’s lifestyle at least three nights a week. VIP ROOM has a minimum spend of AED8,000-12,000 ($2,190- $3,280) per table. For a party of six for the night the number can easily go beyond that. Same applies to Blue Marlin, Cavalli Club and White. Iris is slightly more forgiving with an average table tab of AED6,000 ($1,640).

So once all is said and done, the calculations reveal that in order to lead this so-called-glamorous lifestyle, you’ll have to have a minimum of AED9,500 ($2,600) outing allowance in your weekly budget.  

“I usually put aside AED40 K per month for outings and social events. This is the only way you could be in the scene and build your social status. In Dubai you have to have that amount dedicated towards your leisure budget to do it properly. That’s the reality,” said a well-known VIP that frequents the glamour scene of Dubai.

And when asked whether it is worth going through all this, he replied: “Dubai is a small environment and you can get sick of it after two years. It’s always the same people. There are a lot of single people in Dubai. These sorts of gatherings are a good place to meet new people and have fun. It’s for people of all ages, but the average age is 33.”

Another socialite added: “This lifestyle can be addictive. There are plenty of readily available girls who have no income to go out and are quite happy to go out with groups like that so that they could be at a table. The car, the pad and the people on your table are also all part of the package, obviously. It is not easily attainable. So if the average Joe who wants to participate in this playfield has to pay a significantly larger chunk of his income in order to keep up with appearances.” 

You only have to Google “Cavalli Dubai Bill’ to see that the stated numbers above might actually be down-played from reality.

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