Entertainment in Arabian Peninsula

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Muscat

    Royal Opera House Muscat

    Some of the most famous names in opera and ballet have performed within this beautiful building since its inauguration in 2011, and the quality of the productions here (the season extends from September to May) regularly wins international acclaim. There's an efficient online reservation system with ticket collection on arrival. Note: there's a strict dress code for attending a performance. Built by the same architects as the Grand Mosque, the Royal Opera House Muscat is worth a visit simply to admire the harmonious amalgam of marble, inlaid wood and arabesque design. In fact, even if you're not intending to catch a show, there's a sociable ambiance at the restaurants and coffee shops outside the opera house and window-shopping is fun in the opulent Opera Galleria arcade that forms part of the same complex. Call the box office to check the availability of tours of the Opera House. If you decide to stay on for a performance (at which jeans and sports shoes are not permitted), you can hire suitable clothing on-site.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Cinema Akil

    Treating cine buffs to smart indie flicks from around the world on a pop-up basis since 2014, this dynamic platform has now taken up permanent residence at Alserkal Avenue. Screenings generally take place from 4pm on Friday and Saturday and 7.30pm on weekdays and are often followed by Q&A sessions with directors.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Dubai Opera

    Shaped like a traditional dhow – the sailing vessels that still ply the Gulf – Dubai Opera is the city's newest high-calibre performing-arts venue. Despite its name, it actually hosts a potpourri of shows, including musicals, ballet, comedy acts, rock bands and recitals. The ‘bow’ of the building contains a 2000-seat theatre and glass-fronted foyer overlooking Burj Lake. There’s a bar on the top floor. Ticket prices vary by show: most start around Dhs250, with boxes entering the several thousands. But with excellent acoustics and unrestricted views from every maroon leather pew, there's no need to spend big money for good seats. No mandatory dress code, but you might want to dress nicely. Tickets are available online and at the box office.

  • Entertainment in Yas Island

    Vox Cinemas

    If you like to smell the rubber on your car chase and feel the earth rumble as screaming tyres race across a 24.5m screen, then the 4D experience at Vox Cinema's 4DX Theatre won't disappoint. If you're a foodie who appreciates the finer things, a comfy seat at the luxurious Theatre by Rhodes nets you Michelin-starred cuisine too. Book online. There's also a private cinema for kids.

  • Entertainment in Riyadh

    King Abdulaziz Racetrack

    A popular weekend destination, the King Abdulaziz Racetrack exemplifies the Kingdom’s rich equestrian heritage. The 5000-seat grandstand flanks the finish line, and results from each of the 10 daily races are displayed via the electronic leaderboard. Trackside viewing areas offer the best vantage point of the finish line, as well as up-close encounters with the racing talent. The grandstand cafe serves up cheap eats, but the fine-dining buffet restaurant is a good upmarket option, with fresh seafood, roasted lamb and a selection of local favourites, such as capsa, a traditional Saudi dish of chicken and saffron rice. The glass-encased eatery offers a bird’s-eye view of the racetrack, the surrounding palm-dotted farms and desert horizon. The racetrack is open to the public but requires reservations. Bring your ID.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Reel Cinemas

    Reel is one of the top flick-magnets in town, screening mostly Hollywood blockbusters. It has 22 screens, including one featuring a state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos sound system, the over-18 Platinum Movie Suite with reclining leather chairs and table service, and an MX4D theatre whose seats have built-in motion effects. There are five Reel Cinemas in Dubai; check the website for locations.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    La Perle by Dragone

    A custom-designed theatre with a 270-degree angle makes for perfect sight lines even in the cheaper seats of this magical show centred on an aquatic stage where some 65 acrobats perform their stunning stunts. It is the brainchild of Franco Dragone, one of the original creators of Cirque du Soleil.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Meydan Racecourse

    Dubai racing’s home is the spectacular Meydan Racecourse, about 5km southeast of downtown Dubai. Spanning 1.5km, its grandstand is bigger than most airport terminals and lidded by a crescent-shaped solar-panelled roof. It can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators and integrates a five-star hotel, restaurants, an IMAX theatre and a museum. Racing season starts in November but doesn’t heat up until January, when the Dubai World Cup Carnival brings top horses and jockeys to Dubai. It culminates in late March with the elite Dubai World Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races, with prize money of a dizzying US$10 million. Even if you don’t like horse racing, attending a race presents great people-watching opportunities, because it attracts fans from a wide range of nationalities, ages and social backgrounds. Meydan has a free-admission area where dress is casual. For the grandstand, you’ll need tickets and may want to dress up. Most races start at 7pm, but it's best to check the website for the exact schedule and tickets. There are also stable tours that let you meet the trainers and horses and also get close-ups of the jockeys' dressing room and the parade ring. To get here, take Interchange No 2 from Sheikh Zayed Rd, turn left onto Al Meydan Rd and follow the signs. Alternatively it's a 15-minute taxi ride from Dubai Mall.

  • Entertainment in Yas Island

    Du Arena

    This outdoor entertainment venue (formerly known as Yas Arena) regularly hosts big names of the regional and international music world. With excellent acoustics and a unique cooling system, this venue has become one of the must-do stops on international tours. Tickets are usually available through UAE's Ticketmaster website (www.ticketmaster.ae).

  • Entertainment in Yas Island

    Du Forum

    This striking indoor entertainment venue holds art exhibitions, concerts, comedy shows and sports events. Unlike Yas Island's other entertainment venue, Du Arena, it is fully air-conditioned, allowing for big-ticket acts and events to take place year-round.

  • Entertainment in Qatar

    Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track

    The atmosphere is electric when the ‘sport of sheikhs’ – now involving remote-controlled robot jockeys – is being played at Qatar's premier camel race track. Watch from the purpose-built stadium or drive along the 8km racetrack during the race; female camels can maintain a speed of 40km/h for an entire hour and are often better at keeping in their lane than motorists. Some Doha tour operators run trips to the track, an hour from the city, as part of their packages. Check the English-language newspapers for updated race times. View races from the stand, join the 4WD parade or watch training sessions in the early mornings. The racing season culminates in the prestigious Emir's GCC Camel Race. The stadium is located off the main road to Al Shahaniya. There are plenty of signs to point you in the right direction, and long before the stadium comes into view, the approach is marked by 5km of stables, exercise areas, lodgings for the trainers and breeders, and all the other facilities required for a multimillion-dollar sport.

  • Entertainment in Manama

    Bahrain National Theatre

    The country's national theatre sits in a stunning location, surrounded by the azure waters of Manama's northeastern bay, and offers an impressive calendar of world-class performing arts, including ballet, classical and traditional music concerts, and opera and musical theatre. Tickets are reasonably priced, and there is a smart-casual dress code (no trainers). Adjacent to Bahrain National Museum, this stunning architectural showpiece covers nearly 12,000 sq m. It's the third-largest theatre in the region and has a design that owes much to local traditions; the interwoven aluminium strips that allow airflow evoke the roofs of traditional homes here, while the curvaceous interior of the auditorium echoes the seafaring dhows (traditional cargo boats). Even the number of seats is 1001, a nod to that most famous book of stories, One Thousand and One Nights.

  • Entertainment in Kuwait

    Kuwait Camel Racing Club

    For a thrilling taste of Kuwaiti sporting life, come to this race track in a 4WD on a Saturday and you can drive alongside camels (with electric jockeys) as they race at speeds up to 60km/h. Driving on sand at speed requires skill, and there are other cars to avoid, so make sure you have full insurance. At the track, ask for the FM radio station used to broadcast the live race, which visitors can listen to as they drive. The track is around 45 minutes south of Kuwait City. It's a 10-minute drive south of Kabad Fire Station, in the desert.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Courtyard Playhouse

    This 70-seat community theatre (plus bean bags on busy nights) puts on a busy schedule of improv, stand-up comedy, kids theatre and live broadcasts from famous stages like the New York Met and London's National Theatre. It also offers acting, improv and comedy workshops geared towards the expat community. Husband-and-wife team Kemsley Dickinson and Tiffany Schultz poured their hearts, soul and cash into making this nonprofit venture happen, aided by crowdfunding, fundraising and donations. It opened in late 2013.

  • Entertainment in Abu Dhabi

    Al Wathba Race Track

    Sporting colourful nosebags and matching blankets, camels are the stars of the show at the Al Wathba Race Track, 45km southeast of Abu Dhabi. Races are great fun, even just to watch the enthusiasm of the owners who drive alongside the track cheering their beloved animals along. Arrive 30 minutes ahead of the starting block to absorb the pre-race excitement. The track is about 45km east of town via the E22 towards Al Ain; take exit 47, turn right to Al Wathba Palace and right again to the track.

  • Entertainment in Doha

    Katara Amphitheatre

    This grand arabesque/Greek outdoor theatre at the heart of the Katara Cultural Village is a sight to behold. It has around 30 rows of deep steps and seats and views down onto a large circular stage with a sea-view backdrop. Performances here are among the most atmospheric in the city, especially when it's a full house with some 5000 people. Visitors are welcome to walk around the amphitheatre at any time of day. Check the Katara website for upcoming shows and events.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Jamjar

    This community art space exhibits contemporary art by emerging local and international talent as well as being a DIY painting studio. If you're feeling the creative urge, you can hire an easel and buy a canvas and all the paint and paper you require to create your own masterpiece. It also screens indie films and similar and is heavily involved in local community projects that promote the arts. Located behind Dubai Garden Centre.

  • Entertainment in Kuwait City

    Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre

    This enormous 214,000-sq-m modern building cost KD235 million (US$773 million) to build and is the largest cultural centre in the Middle East. It contains a music centre, theatres and concert halls that host everything from classical concerts to gigs by the likes of Sting. Its outdoor public park, named Flag Square, is open daily. Flag Square has a dancing fountain and is surrounded by restaurants.

  • Entertainment in Dubai

    Vox Mall of the Emirates

    This multiplex boasts 24 screens, including a 4D cinema with motion chairs, and wind, light and water effects; the region's first IMAX laser cinema; a colourful kids' cinema; and the superluxe Theatre by Rhodes where you can enjoy a meal conceived by Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes (Dhs295). Skip the queue and pick your seat in advance by buying tickets online.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Dubai

    Blue Bar

    Cool cats of all ages gather in this relaxed joint for some of the finest live jazz and blues in town, along with a full, reasonably priced bar line-up that includes signature cocktails named after jazz greats (try the Louis Armstrong–inspired Hello Dolly) ordered on an iPad's interactive menu. It's open daily with live concerts from 10pm Thursday to Saturday.