Dubai

Dubai is party central for the Middle East. Expats here work hard and play hard, so there's no excuse for sitting in your hotel room watching reruns of Friends dubbed in Arabic. The city has action of every type—ultra-cool cocktail bars, beach clubs with day-into-night partying, desert terraces for sharing a glass of champagne, sports bars and pubs with monumental flat-screen TVs, and designer-label nightclubs where you can dance until dawn.

You may have to refinance your mortgage to pay for a serious night out in Dubai. Alcohol is served only on licensed premises—usually attached to international hotels—and the prices are often exorbitant. You have to be 21 to order drinks or stand in bar areas where alcohol is being served, and an ID will often be demanded. In addition, some popular clubs restrict entry to clients based on their appearance. People love to dress up in Dubai, so be sure to follow suit for your evening of clubbing; otherwise you may be left on the curb. Sandals are not allowed in clubs.

Live music is popular in the city, and tends to sit at extremes of the spectrum—cover bands perform in dive bars and mainstream international artists play for tens of thousands. Classic performance arts have had a thin presence, however recent years have brought welcome change thanks to the growing population, opening of the Dubai Opera House and the increasing quality of acts at venues like Madinat Theatre.

Movies have always been popular in the Middle East. Large multiplex centers show the latest blockbusters from Hollywood and Bollywood, as well as films from around the Arabic-speaking world. Here, going to the movies is a luxurious experience; theaters with food designed by Michelin-starred chefs, kids-only zones, and of course the latest in high-tech viewing, such as 4DX and IMAX.

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  • 1. Aji

    Jumeirah Beach | Piano Bars

    One of Dubai's first forays into Nikkei cuisine is also one of the prettiest overwater bars. The decor is what sells this place—someone has...Read More

  • 2. Atelier M

    Dubai Marina | Piano Bars

    Although strictly a restaurant, Atelier M has a very clublike feel on the rooftop, and opening hours until 2 or 3 am prove the clientele aren...Read More

  • 3. Estrella's Skyline Lounge

    The South Bank | Piano Bars

    Until Meliá opened in Bur Dubai, it was hard to find any semblance of "new Dubai" within this venerable district. Estrella’s might be in Old...Read More

  • 4. Sea Fu Bar

    Jumeirah Beach | Piano Bars

    This bar flanks a casual yet elegant restaurant of the same name, and sits just short of the sand on the Four Seasons' private Jumeirah beach...Read More

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