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United Arab Emirates
Dubai is a stirring alchemy of profound traditions and ambitious futuristic vision wrapped into starkly evocative desert splendour.
After dark, Dubai sometimes seems like a city filled with lotus eaters, forever on the lookout for a good time. Its shape-shifting party spectrum caters for just about every taste, budget and age group. From flashy dance temples, sleek rooftop terraces and sizzling beach clubs to fancy cocktail caverns, shisha lounges and concerts under the stars, Dubai delivers hot-stepping odysseys. Most of the nightlife centres on the fancy hotels, but there’s no shortage of more wholesome diversions either, including community theatre, live-music venues and the world-class Dubai Opera.
Dubai is a top retail haunt that hosts not one but two huge annual shopping festivals. Shopping is a leisure activity here, and malls are much more than just mere collections of stores. Some look like an Italian palazzo or a Persian palace and lure visitors with surreal attractions such as an indoor ski slope, a giant aquarium or an open-air botanical garden. Traditional souqs, too, are beehives of activity humming with timeless bargaining banter. Meanwhile, a new crop of urban-style outdoor malls has expanded the shopping spectrum yet again.