Ryan Bish is the owner of Cirque Le Soir. Pawan Singh / The National
Ryan Bish is the owner of Cirque Le Soir. Pawan Singh / The National

Cirque Le Soir brightens up Dubai nightlife



Ryan Bish is the owner of Cirque Le Soir, a London nightclub that attracts the likes of singers Drake and Rihanna. In collaboration with Pragma Group, Mr Bish opened a Cirque Le Soir on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road in 2011. Here, the 34-year-old Brit reveals how to run a venue that stands out from the crowd.

Dubai was the first location you opened outside London. Why here?

I met someone in the first Cirque Le Soir and they were part of the Pragma group and it went from there really. Because we had never done anything in Dubai we initially did a popup in The 400 Club – that was the first taste of the market. The concept went so well that we decided to make it a permanent fixture and franchise it. So from the start of the popup party to four months later we had a permanent venue. Pragma has a very big infrastructure and they have been a big help. They’ve taken the franchise so without them it wouldn’t have happened.

Since you opened in 2011, several other clubs have opened. How’s your popularity holding up?

Cirque was one of the first international nightclub brands to come to Dubai and since then every other nightclub from all over the world wants to come here. Obviously when new clubs open up and they are targeting the same demographic that will affect us initially. But I think when a new club opens up they all have their honeymoon period but after that everyone reverts to what they know. I come here at least six times year; I need to show my face. I am really happy with the club – after two-and-a-half years, it’s still going really strong.

So what makes you different?

Obviously it goes without saying our USP is our performers and entertainment, whereas most clubs base themselves on their names and their decor and what kind of LED lights they have. We have a varying cast of performers and entertainers that change on a regular basis. They are all international so you wouldn’t have seen any of these people in Dubai before. We basically have a big database of performers from all over the world and we rotate them between London, Dubai and Shanghai and our world tour. It’s ever-changing and constantly evolving.

What’s the difference between operating in London and in Dubai?

I guess London is an already saturated market for nightclubs – it’s really cut-throat. Coming from London where it’s so intense competitively, we were running on a very high gear already coming here. And I think having a really hot nightclub from London and bringing it to Dubai, you already have a start over someone trying to start a Dubai nightclub. We’ve had to adapt the concept for Dubai because in London it’s very risqué and we push the boundaries a lot – whereas in Dubai we’re very restricted with our performers and shows: we can’t show any skin and they must be covered up at all times on stage. In London, less is more.

So after Dubai, where next?

Shanghai opened six months ago and it’s going well. We’ve a lot of interest from Asia and the next opening will probably be Beijing and we have a site in New York that we are looking at. We are doing an extended popup in Paris this summer and Morocco. Generally, like Dubai, we test the market by doing a couple of popup nights; and then we might do an extended popup; and then a set site.

Cirque Le Soir in London is famous for attracting celebrities. Why is that?

It’s because they come, get left alone and don’t get harassed. Obviously they are going to be followed by the paparazzi outside but once they are inside no one really pays them much attention. If there is a celeb in the club and someone is trying to take a picture of them with a phone or video we don’t allow that. It’s intrusive. I’ve been in the club scene in London’s West End for the best part of 10 years so I guess it’s about moving in the right circles really – it’s all just friends of friends. There are a lot of clubs that have to pay for celebrities to show up and we’ve never used that model because once you start doing that you’ll always be stuck in that rut because celebrities, their agents and their management speak with each other so you are then seen as a client and not somewhere to hang out. I’ve always adopted a very strict door policy so the ventures have always been higher tier and kept an exclusive feel. With the exclusivity comes the edginess that network aspires to be around.

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The specs: 2018 Kia Picanto

Price: From Dh39,500

Engine: 1.2L inline four-cylinder

Transmission: Four-speed auto

Power: 86hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 122Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 6.0L / 100km

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The specs: 2018 Bentley Bentayga V8

Price, base: Dh853,226

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Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 550hp @ 6,000pm

Torque: 770Nm @ 1,960rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 11.4L / 100km

Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon

Rating: 5/5

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Valencia 3

Kevin Gameiro 21', 51'

Ferran Torres 67'

Atlanta 4

Josip Llicic 3' (P), 43' (P), 71', 82'

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Company name: Farmin

Date started: March 2019

Founder: Dr Ali Al Hammadi 

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: AgriTech

Initial investment: None to date

Partners/Incubators: UAE Space Agency/Krypto Labs 

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Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

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Rating: 4.5/5

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Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

MATCH DETAILS

Juventus 2 (Bonucci 36, Ronaldo 90+6)

Genoa 1 (Kouame 40)

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

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Director: Carol Mansour

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if you go

The flights

Emirates have direct flights from Dubai to Glasgow from Dh3,115. Alternatively, if you want to see a bit of Edinburgh first, then you can fly there direct with Etihad from Abu Dhabi.

The hotel

Located in the heart of Mackintosh's Glasgow, the Dakota Deluxe is perhaps the most refined hotel anywhere in the city. Doubles from Dh850

 Events and tours

There are various Mackintosh specific events throughout 2018 – for more details and to see a map of his surviving designs see glasgowmackintosh.com

For walking tours focussing on the Glasgow Style, see the website of the Glasgow School of Art. 

More information

For ideas on planning a trip to Scotland, visit www.visitscotland.com

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Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

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Power: 843hp at N/A rpm

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Transmission: 9-speed auto

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On sale: October to December

Price: From Dh875,000+(estimate)

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1pm - White rice or chapati (Indian bread) with chicken
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The Abu Dhabi Supreme Petroleum Council was established in 1988 and is the highest governing body in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry. The council formulates, oversees and executes the emirate’s petroleum-related policies. It also approves the allocation of capital spending across state-owned Adnoc’s upstream, downstream and midstream operations and functions as the company’s board of directors. The SPC’s mandate is also required for auctioning oil and gas concessions in Abu Dhabi and for awarding blocks to international oil companies. The council is chaired by Sheikh Khalifa, the President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi while Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, is the vice chairman.

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SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

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Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

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One of Basquiat’s paintings, the vibrant Cabra (1981–82), now hangs in Louvre Abu Dhabi temporarily, on loan from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. 

The latter museum is not open physically, but has assembled a collection and puts together a series of events called Talking Art, such as this discussion, moderated by writer Chaedria LaBouvier. 

It's something of a Basquiat season in Abu Dhabi at the moment. Last week, The Radiant Child, a documentary on Basquiat was shown at Manarat Al Saadiyat, and tonight (April 18) the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is throwing the re-creation of a party tonight, of the legendary Canal Zone party thrown in 1979, which epitomised the collaborative scene of the time. It was at Canal Zone that Basquiat met prominent members of the art world and moved from unknown graffiti artist into someone in the spotlight.  

“We’ve invited local resident arists, we’ll have spray cans at the ready,” says curator Maisa Al Qassemi of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. 

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi's Canal Zone Remix is at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Thursday April 18, from 8pm. Free entry to all. Basquiat's Cabra is on view at Louvre Abu Dhabi until October

Alan Wake Remastered

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Consoles: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox: 360 & One & Series X/S and Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

ASHES SCHEDULE

First Test
November 23-27 (The Gabba, Brisbane)
Second Test
December 2-6 (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide)
Third Test
December 14-18 (Waca Ground, Perth)
Fourth Test
December 26-30 (Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne)
Fifth Test
January 4-8, 2018 (Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney)

RESULT

Leeds United 1 Manchester City 1
Leeds:
 Rodrigo (59')
Man City: Sterling (17')

Man of the Match: Rodrigo Moreno (Leeds)

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

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