Dubai–a paradise in the desert with a complex history surrounding the consumption of alcohol–is ground-zero for an app that will change the way people socialize not unlike how Uber and Airbnb have disrupted their industries
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” starts the quote from John Heyward, the English playwright, but Dubai sure seems like it was even if it is more than a thousand years old. A unique city jutting out of the sands of the Arabian Desert along the Persian Gulf and boasting a population of nearly three million, Dubai is a city of expatriates. More than 75% of the city’s population comes from abroad. While in a post 9/11 world, a Muslim city filled with foreigners living, working and partying may seem odd, Islam has a very long history as a very tolerant religion.
While the consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Islam, the religion has a long history of tolerating Christian and Jewish taverns that serve it. In fact, quite a number of Arab, Muslim poets wrote at length about alcohol including Abu Nuwas, who wrote:
“Shall I spurn it [wine] when God himself hasn’t
And our own caliph shows it veneration?
Superlative wine, radiant and bright
Rivaling the very sun’s scintillation
While we may not know heaven in this life
Still we have paradise’s libation.”
The Prophet Mohammed’s companion Al-Nuayman ibn Amr was also known to drink and was flogged twice for it. While it is clear that alcohol is haram or banned in Islam, Muslim tolerance of it has quite a long history. Modern Dubai is no different–literally hundreds of bars and clubs fill the city. Some estimates put Dubai’s concentration of establishments that serve alcohol to square miles as the highest density of any city in the world.
Dubai is a very international city: western women in colorful designer dresses mingle and shop while Emirati (citizens of the United Arab Emirates) women may choose to everything but their eyes. Cultures may definitely clash at the beach. Publican displays of affection are banned and can land tourists in hot water with the law. For more information on this, see 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Drinking in Dubai.
It is here in Dubai where a startup company a little over a year old has launched its namesake app–Brunchy.
Brunchy is a free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that shows users where and when happy hours, brunches, drunches, men’s nights, ladies’ nights and more are happening. Unlike its main competitors, Brunchy requires no subscription and is completely free to use.
Brunchy integrates a smartphone’s calendar, GPS and time with its database to tell users where they can find popular drink offers and maybe even new friends, nearby
James, the company founder, was inspired to make Brunchy after seeing how expensive a night out in Dubai could be. Right now there are more than 1000 offers on the app, which are also mirrored on the company website. While Brunchy has started small, it has experienced tremendous growth in its first year and looks to keep adding users and features in 2018.
Some of the features being added are for drinking establishments listed on the app to better manage their listings and offers, but quite a number are for the end-users–the Brunchialites. These include Bluetooth beacon functionality to allow users to redeem offers right from their smartphones, social features for connecting with people you meet on a night out, and giveaways and raffles for brunch tickets. The Brunchialite community is the core of the Brunchy app and to keep them happy, Brunchy plans on continually improving the app.
Location-based apps have promised a lot and while Uber and Airbnb have revolutionized both transportation and lodging, respectively, there hasn’t been anything like that so far for drinking and socializing. In fact, most of Brunchy’s competitors are still basically digital replicas of coupon books. Company founder James wants to change this and take advantage of all the abilities of smartphones in a way that brings real value to both venues and their costumers.
Expatriates in Dubai are already benefiting from Brunchy, making their time abroad a little more like home
Being an expatriate can be a lonely experience. Many miles separate you from your friends and family. How do you find others to meet up, socialize with and possibly even make new friends? The bar of course. But which bar? As was mentioned before, Dubai boasts perhaps the highest density of bars in the world, making it hard to find where exactly one should go at any given time. Happy hours, ladies’ nights, brunches and men’s nights are a good starting point. Of course, it is simply impossible to do all the research to find where one should go for some fun at any given time. Brunch fills this role.
Eventually, Brunchy will start to expand beyond just Dubai into more of the Middle East and eventually across the world. Right now it is content to focus on Dubai and making the expatriates there feel a little more at home.