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Home > Guides > Eating in Dubai

Eating in Dubai

Thursday, 21 October 2010 09:28


Dubai is a manufactured oasis of civilization, built by petroleum money as part of plan to create an economic engine not directly dependent on it. It's also a global city, sitting at the heart of the geographic spider web that is Eurasia, a hyper-International playground for tourists from different continents and countries. As a hub for commerce, business and shipping, Dubai could very well be one of the most cosmopolitan metropolises on the globe. As a result, it's cuisine is a melting pot of different styles and ingredients that counts nearly every major tradition of cooking among its representatives.

Of course, Dubai is home to an old and mature culture itself, so the native fare is itself rather delicious. Dubai's native food is a mix of traditional Arabic and Islamic food with a healthy dose of fish and seafood from the Gulf. Local influences run to Moroccan, Lebanese and Iranian, featuring the familiar hummus and tabbouleh found in Middle Eastern food. Brown rice is also a staple of local comfort foods. Though it may be somewhat overshadowed by the eruption of international food of late, Dubai boasts shawarma from dozens of specialty shops around the city and kebab in all the familiar varieties.

More exotic local dishes include a number of stuffed delicacies, like wara enab, a steamed, rice-stuffed vine leaf dish, and koussa mahshi, a type of courgette. Lamb is one of the major sources of meat besides seafood. A particular treat is the roast lamb, served over rice and nuts, called ghuzi by locals. Other big lamb dishes include the spicy matchous and the slow cooked hareis. Specially seasoned rice dishes grace several local seafood dishes as well.

Of course, there are over a thousand restaurants in Dubai at last count, which leaves a whole lot of room for exotic cuisine that doesn't have a Gulf or Arabic influence. As a business and finance center for a good portion of Asia Minor and a trading center of enormous size, Dubai is host to foods from practically every corner of the world. There are authentic restaurants from around the globe, catering to every taste, from comfort food from a distant country to the finest in haute cuisine.

Fresh fish is flown in from everywhere to provide raw material for more than forty sushi restaurants, supplying everything from conveyor belt kai-ten stalls for Salary Men homesick for Japan to finest of California style sushi. There's Italian, French, Chinese and African food, even burritos or tapas. And restaurants in Dubai are part of the attraction so there's restaurants on the tops of buildings, on private piers above the sea and even carved out of ice and shoved in a freezer. That's right, at one point there was a whole restaurant carved out of ice and stored in a freezer. It was called Chill out.

Eating out in Dubai is an experience in and of itself, so make sure you wander a little before settling. There's a world of food in the city, some local and authentic, and some foreign and excessive. But the restaurants of the city are as much an attraction as anything else there.