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Home: Living Here: Entertainment and Leisure in the United Arab Emirates

Cinemas / Theaters
The cinema market in the United Arab Emirates boomed after the UAE release of Titanic in 1998. Since then, local cinema distribution companies have been setup and larger cinema theater halls have opened. Now its possible to watch recent blockbuster movies in English, Arabic, and Hindi films throughout the UAE.

Hollywood movies are normally released in the UAE within 2 months of their US release, while Bollywood films are normally released within a month of their release in India. Presently there are four cinema chains around the UAE - Century Cinemas (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah), Cinestar Cinemas (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman), Al Massa Cinemas (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah) and Grand Cinemas (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai [Cineplex], Dubai [Cinecity]). It is possible to reserve tickets by calling the cinema theater, but they require that you collect the ticket at least 30 minutes before the films is screened.

Television, Satellite & Cable
The majority of local channels are government run, contain very few commercials and are in Arabic. There is only one English channel in the UAE, One TV (previously Channel 33 or Dubai 33), which is run by the Dubai government. It has became a full-day channel in December 2004 and is also available as a satellite channel. The emirate of Ajman has a commercial channel, Channel 4, which has a few English programs and is a satellite channel.

As the local channels are not sufficient to most peoples TV needs, people decide to buy satellite dishs and receiver. A reasonably priced satellite dish and receiver along with its installation will cost Dhs. 1,000 ($US 274). The most popular satellites receivable in the United Arab Emirates are Nilesat, Arabsat, Hotbird, and Asiansat, which have free-to-air and pay-tv channels. In addition to these satellite channels, there are satellite distribution companies that provide additional paid satellite channel packages. Some of the satellite channel packages are Showtime, Orbit, ART, Star Select, Pehla, and Firstnet.

There is only one cable TV network, which is provided by the UAE's only telecom company, and is known as E-Vision (Emirates Cable TV & Multimedia). E-Vision provides packages which are a collection of satellite-free channels and satellite distribution company-paid channels.

Contact Numbers
Showtime Arabia - 04 367-7888
Al Awael (ART/Pehla/Star Select) - 04 806-1111
Orbit - 04 405-9999
E-Vision - 800-5500 (toll-free)

Theme Parks
Wild Wadi - This water park covers 12 acres and was designed around a tale from Arabian folklore and is located next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. It consists of 24 state-of-the-art rides and attractions, most of which interconnect and contains the tallest and fastest free-fall speed slide in the Middle East. The waterpark opens daily at 11am and normally closes around 7pm. Click here for more information.

Dreamland Aqua Park - This entertainment complex spreads out over 250 thousand square meters along the coast, and is situated in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain. It offers a variety of water games and rides, shopping facilities, restaurants and fast-food outlets, making it an ideal area for a family get-together. It is open 7 days a week, while Fridays and Publick Holidays are family days.

Nightlife ( Clubs & Bars )
In the UAE, Dubai is known for its popular after-dark scene, where bars or clubs are located inside of hotels or leisure complexes. The European, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian nightclubs have popular DJs playing the latest trends of music throughout the night. Below is a list of popular nightlife areas in Dubai.

The Irish Village (The Aviation Club, Al-Garhoud)
Popular pub in Dubai which is not inside a hotel and is set in a village-style street.

Planetarium Night Club (Next to Planet Hollywood, Wafi City)
One of Dubai's premier club which can facilitate up to 500 guests and draws a popular international crowd and hosts DJ Charlie C.

Oxygen (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Al Garhood)
Another popular nightclub which has music mixes by resident DJ JAD and guest DJs Marwan and Sticky Fingers.

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