DUBAI // At 2.45am on a Wednesday, the wrong end of a "school night", Mariphie Sollorano and three of her friends were the only customers at McDonald's on Jumeira Beach Road.
Some patrons of the fast-food restaurant had just returned from a day on the beach; others had returned from Ice Land water park in Ras Al Khaimah.
Although most were lucky to have an afternoon shift that day, Ms Sollorano had to report for work at 9am.
"I didn't want to go out at first but I'm here as the result of peer pressure," the Filipina said, pointing at her friend Leih Falqueza. "She's always the one who's up to no good."
Yet Ms Sollorano, 31, who works as a sales representative at Sun and Sand Sports, had no regrets about giving in to temptation.
"It's been a great day and, going back, I wouldn't have changed my mind," she said. "I can get by with just six hours of sleep, and only three hours is OK once in a while. We're still young, after all."
At first, Ms Sollorano and her friends were the only customers, but as the clock struck 3am and the clubs closed Dubai's young crowd began to peek in.
Roaa Ikink was among them. She dived into her cheeseburger and fries after enjoying a night out at the Dubai Marine Resort and Spa next door. At nearly 4am, she said nothing could be more satisfying.
Mrs Ikink, 24, a housewife, had early business ahead of her. After dropping off her two children at a nursery at 7.30am, she had to be at a beauty salon to model their cosmetic products only 30 minutes later.
With less than four hours to go before this busy day began, she was determined to take a power nap and make it to her demonstration.
"If I have at least an hour or two of sleep, then I'll be fine - as long as there's also a Red Bull in the mix," Mrs Ikink said.
This kind of schedule is not unusual for the young Yemeni, who says she goes out at least five times a week.
A shisha addict, Mrs Ikink says she usually saves clubbing for the weekend and spends her weekday evenings in cafes. Her husband, who is from Holland, spends most of his time at work.
"The most important thing is that the place we go to has shisha," she said. "My husband is always busy at meetings and events, so I get bored and go out to kill time.
"This is what's wonderful about Dubai nightlife. You have so many options well into the night, whether you want to go out and dance or relax at a cafe."
Of McDonald's 97 branches across the UAE, 61 operate around the clock or have extended working hours, meaning they close between 2am and 4am. The chain is popular among the younger crowd for satisfying after-party cravings.
Mazen Sous, a McDonald's representative, said restaurants that are close to key attractions, on motorways on main commuting roads, have the highest after-midnight sales, especially on weekends.
While customers early on that Wednesday morning came in patches, they were streaming through the door on Friday night.
Tina Rouss, from Lebanon, had just come back from celebrating her friend's birthday at Loca and Malecon, a bar and nightclub also at the Dubai Marine Resort.
Although zaatar w zeit is the young Lebanese woman's most preferred late-night meal because it "reminds me of home", her reasons for choosing McDonald's were simple.
"It's open, cheap and tastes good," Ms Rouss said.