Ramadan is just around the corner. So are the summer holidays. While previously, you would expect the summer expat story to begin with many expats leaving Dubai for their respective homes during the summers, nowadays I find that a lot of families are actually staying back here (where else would you get air-conditioned car parks?) and are joined by their extended families. This post lists some of the places that you can have Iftars and Suhoors around town (humble to moderate to lavish!). But for the non-fasting Dubai residents looking out for places where one can eat breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea during Ramadan, here’s a huge list compiled by Debbie aka The Real Geordie Armani and Samantha aka Foodiva. According to them, there are more than 60 stand-alone eateries open across Dubai for lunch, and in many cases breakfast and afternoon tea/coffee! Also, do visit Dima Sharif‘s site – she has a tradition of doing special postings during Ramadan and this Ramadan too, join her in her journey as she films some food personalities around town – ‘inspired by all the great people I met On The Path Of Food’ (including me).
What is Ramadan?
• Ramadan is regarded as the holiest month of the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29 and 30 days.
• Ramadan is the period in which the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were said to be revealed to Prophet Mohammed and it is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
• Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and during Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset.
• Many Muslims will rise before dawn for a small pre-fast meal called Suhoor, and will break the fast at sunset with a meal called Iftar.
• Ramadan concludes with a three day festival, the Eid al-Fitr, which when translated means ‘The festival of breaking the fast’.
• Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long path towards a higher spiritual state.
More on Ramadan
Gulf News writes about all you need to know about Ramadan. This is also a time for spiritual awakening, self-evaluation, humility and giving and is explained by Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, while Khaleej Times writes about the essence of Ramadan. Also an interesting read from Sarah, author of The Hedonista and co-editor of Food e Mag dxb (the online magazine that both of us have created)… Ramadan and Iftar – what it means for the food traveller.
Humble Iftar experiences in Dubai
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) where I have had one of the humblest Iftar experiences. Located in the wind-towered heritage area of Bastakiya in Al Fahidi district, you can learn about the Islamic tradition of fasting here, followed by a walk around the entire historical site and a visit to the Diwan Masjid. Dhs 135/person (children below 12 years free); From 1st of July to 26th of July. More info here.
Sacred Sunset Voyages from Frying Pan Adventures (above) where you can embark on a spiritual Ramadan awakening and learning about the essence of Ramadan. Join Arva, author of I live in a Frying Pan who organises perhaps the only food tour in Old Dubai. Join her on the roads of Dubai to hear the Islamic call to prayer sounded by the mosques in Old Dubai, followed by a 4-course Iftar menu. Break the fast with dates and rosy Jallab (a refreshing drink made with dates, carob molasses, rosewater and laced with nuts and raisins) and taste authentic Iftar specialties from one of the world’s oldest countries – Iraq. You can feast on a communal platter of tender lamb drenched in delicious sauces; the ‘wet’ component of a traditional Iftar meal and sign off by loading up on qataif - baby turnovers stuffed with cheese, cream or nuts and doused with syrup. In the true spirit of Ramadan, you will be gifting a tray of sweets (already covered in the price!) to a worker in the neighborhood.Dhs 415/person for visiting 4 restaurants/cafes (1 starter + 2 main courses + 1 dessert). There is no walking involved here and restaurant transfers take place in an A/C shuttle. The tour lasts 4 hours and starts at 7pm. More info here.
The Majlis Dubai in the Jumeirah Mosque (above) is a new humble Iftar find (in terms of pricing too – Dhs 50/person). The Majlis is the first finest camel milk café in the posh venue of Dubai Mall, but its location in the grounds of Jumeirah Mosque seems to merge Arabian culture with modern Dubai living. Debbie, author of Coffee, Cakes and Running adds…
Nestled in the grounds of the Jumeirah Mosque, Iftar dining comes in the form of tiered platters of traditional Arabic sweet and savoury dishes made for sharing. With the exception of the lentil soup which is served at the beginning, this is Iftar finger style with traditional Arabic food on offer including the Emirati sweet Balaleet and Khanfaroosh. This is a lighter option than the large hotel buffets and is served in a beautiful Majlis setting with a library of Arabic books available to browse as you dine, with the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque in the background. Apart from the sweet and savoury treats, guests are also treated to a glass of camel milk flavoured with dates or saffron and various traditional Arabic juices. More info here.
(Not so humble but delightdul) Iftar experiences around town
Traditionally, Ramadan tents are erected during the month of Ramadan, where people can meet right after Maghrib or the sunset so that everyone who’s fasting for Ramadan can break their daily fast with friends and family over an Iftar meal. Dates form an important part of Iftar (three dates are eaten to break the fast, in the tradition of the prophet Mohammed, who broke his fast in this manner). In Dubai, Iftar buffets are organised in many hotels around the city, complete with air-conditioned Ramadan Tents. I have been curious whether the grandeur of these Iftar Buffets contradict some of the very principles of Ramadan, which is abstinence and self-discipline. While some of my Muslim friends do not attain these Buffets because the prayer facilities for Maghrib isn’t there, most of these Ramadan tents nowadays have prayer rooms. As Dima Sharif explains ‘While in Dubai, and especially among the expat community, Iftar Buffets are very popular – probably because they are away from family, and in Ramadan tradition has it that you break fast with a large number of people – it is not the actual tradition of Ramadan among most and not in fact the most famous forms of breaking fast. Actually, the tradition and spirit of Ramadan (the essence) is very much alive, and that is my focus this year.
Here are the list of some of the places where you can dine lavishly (most of these offerings are from 29th June to 29th August)… a few of them are even open for lunch and some places also serve alcohol. Also, a first hand account of the from a few blogger friends on the Iftar offerings, based on the media previews.
The Address Downtown Dubai
Fazaris welcomes you to evenings of gracious sharing to the tunes of the Oud and Tablah played live. Succulent dates, favourite Arabic delicacies including juices, mezze, salads, grilled meats and aromatic coffees make up a generous Iftar buffet that is best enjoyed with family, friends and colleagues. Dhs 200/person; Timing: Iftar buffet from sunset to 9 pm.
Or you could host your guests over Iftar with a sumptuous buffet at the The Symphony Ballroom, while enjoying views of Burj Khalifa. Price: Dhs 195/person for groups of 100 guests and above; Timing: Iftar buffet from sunset to 9pm. More info here.
The Palace Downtown
Iftar and Suhour at Ewaan with stunning Ramadan tents where guests can dine and unwind in a festive ambiance, set against the tunes of a live Oud player. Iftar Buffer at Dhs 220/person, inclusive of water and Ramadan beverages; Suhour requires a minimum spend of Dhs 160/person, including food, beverage, or Shisha. Timing: Iftar Buffet from 6.30pm to 9pm; Suhour from 10pm to 2am. More info here.
Lakeside Suhour Tents at Ewaan, where groups of up to eight can enjoy traditional favourites in the air-conditioned poolside cabanas of Ewaan while enjoying live performances of The Dubai Fountain. Debbie, author of Coffee, Cakes and Running adds…
Indulge in a private dining experience in your own air-conditioned poolside Suhoor Tent decked out with traditional Arabic seating. With views of the Dubai Fountains behind you and the ability to order a la carte this is an experience to be enjoyed with family and friends. Each tent comfortably sits 8 people with large sharing platters of Arabic treats available including succulent kebabs, tasty kibbeh and a whole mezzo of Arabic starters and desserts served by smiling and attentive waiters. Look out for the box filled with Arabic dates, fruit and sweet treats too – perfect for indulging with a Moroccan tea or Turkish coffee. Board games are provided and Shisha is also available.
Dhs 1,600 (minimum spend for eight people), water, and Ramadan juices; Timing: 9pm to 2am. More info here.
Tailored Iftar or Suhour buffets may also be organised at stunning venues including the Regent Room (25 to 35 guests), and Royale Ballroom (35 to 260 guests).Dhs 155 to 195/person, subject to number of guests. Timing: Iftar from sunset to 9pm; Suhour from 10pm to 1am. More info here.
The Address Dubai Mall
Na3Na3 offers an extravagant Iftar including live cooking stations, freshly baked delicacies and traditional favourites amidst live performance of acoustic Oud and Kanoun. Dhs 195 /person; Timing: Iftar buffet from sunset until 9.30 pm. More info here.
La Porte des Indes, the latest fine dining restaurant serving Indian cuisine with a French twist, will stay open during lunch hours during the month of Ramadan. You can enjoy a special Iftar menu created by Chef Vishal Rane such as Murgh ke Pakode and Roasted Chilli Seekh Kebab, Kari de Mouton or a signature Ramadan dish, the Hyderabadi Ghosht Biryani. The most popular desserts such as the Belgian Dark Chocolate Mousse and the Pistachio Kulfi will also be on the menu. Dhs 125/person, Dhs 155/person, Dhs 175/person and Dhs 195/person (for 2, 3, 4 and 5 courses. Lunch consists of 2 and 3 course only). More info here.
The Address Marina
Designed in the manner of a traditional Ramadan tent but inside a modern air-conditioned set up of the Constellation ballroom, an extensive Iftar Buffet is available from sunset until 9pm during the entire Ramadan followed by a la carte Suhour menu to be enjoyed in the Terrace Tent from 8pm onwards. Dhs 170/person from sunset to 9 pm; A la carte Suhour menu, 8 pm onwards. More info here.
Jasmine, author of Pear Tree Diaries adds…
If variety is what you taste buds are keen on this Ramadan, The Address Marina Iftar spread is your answer with a multinational fare catering exceptional taste along with dessert which left my taste buds wanting more, and more. How can one resist freshly made churros and the towering of tarts? The tent like set up within the dedicated Iftar hall adds to the ambiance the buffet to keep you going well into the month long Ramadan festivities.
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Iftar at the award-winning Kitchen 6 features six Live Cooking stations, an international buffet and a la carte option from Asian woks, Middle Eastern Grills, European Roasts, authentic Indian cuisine, an Organic section and a world class dessert buffet. Iftar at Kitchen 6 features a colossal 225 dishes, prepared by specialty chefs. Dhs 195/person, daily from sunset until 9.30pm. Children less than 5 years eat for free, children aged 6-12 are invited to enjoy this restaurant for half price. More info here.
Majestic Iftar and Sohour in Dubai Ballroom where the iconic ballroom is transformed for Ramadan into an opulent lounge of gold and cream, a stunning setting to share Iftar and Sohour, amidst Live performance of Oud. Classic Arabian cuisine is served by award winning chefs, with an abundance of signature dishes including over 20 main course choices. You can catch on the Football fever as well with the UAE’s biggest LCD screens screening the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and Ramadan TV specials. Shisha available in a fully air conditioned atmosphere. Dhs 195/person; Timing: From sunset to 8.30pm. Sohour is served à la carte from 8.30pm. More info here.
Nine7One in The Oberoi, Dubai
You can enjoy a special Iftar experience at Nine7One, the world cuisine restaurant, with delectable dishes from nine Arabic countries or book for private Iftars in The Grand Hall. Experience Chef Rabah Samra, the Specialty Chef’s signature dishes like baked fish with lemon, garlic, butter and coriander sauces; Harees, a Middle Eastern dish of coarsely-ground wheat and meat or chicken; tender whole mlamb; Lamb Biryani, Eggplant and Tomato parcels with Creamy Pesto and more. Dhs 180/person including Ramadan beverages; Suhour menu available from 11:00pm until sunrise. Light refreshments and beverages will be availablle at The Lobby Bar throughout the day and at The Lobby Lounge after sunset. Debbie, author of Coffee, Cakes and Running adds…
Iftar at Nine7One is a treat to be relished by lovers of Arabic food. Here, the diners can select from the beautifully laid out buffet with tasty and succulent starters and main courses, including a huge platter of succulent Lamb Ouzi. Apart from the buffet, you can also indulge in a few main dishes cooked to order including Shawarma, freshly cooked breads and beautiful Falafel sandwiches and burgers. Desserts are largely Arabic and traditional with some hints of molecular gastronomy presented in an interactive dessert station, think deconstructed Umm Ali, meringues that makes you smile as you exhale steam and tappanaki ice-cream with indulgent flavours. More info here.
Intercontinental Dubai Festival City
Enjoy a sundown feast for Iftar at Anise with the finest spread of traditional Arabic fare and live entertainment. Shisha available on the terrace. Dhs 195/person, including Ramadan juices, tea, coffee and soft beverages (Dhs 98 for kids aged 6-12 years old); Timing: From Sunset until 10pm. More info here.
Zaytoun and Skyline tent at Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City where you can break your fast with family and friends during Ramadan in the relaxing atmosphere of Zaytoun and the connecting Skyline Ramadan Tent with unrivaled views of the Dubai Creek and skyline. You can order Suhour from an a la carte Arabian menu including signature dishes from the guest Arabic Master Chef from the Phoenicia Intercontinental Beirut. You can also enjoy a large selection of teas from the signature Tchaba tea station. Dhs 195/person, including Ramadan juices, tea, coffee and soft beverages; Timing: From Sunset until 10pm while Suhour starts from 9pm until 2am. Jasmine, author of Pear Tree Diaries adds…
Generous portions with a wide spread of traditional Ramadan fare catered to please all taste buds is what one can expect at the participating Intercontinental Dubai Festival City and the sister outlets, Crown Plaza Dubai Festival City and Al Badia Golf Club. Authentic Emirati Harissa, traditional Lebanese desserts and far Eastern delicacies along with a range of desserts, including the tantalizing Kunafa.
Asateer Tent at The Atlantis
The lavish beachfront tent overlooks the Arabian Gulf and offers traditional activities and entertainment including card games, chess and backgammon – a true Arabian Nights experience. Guests can enjoy a gastronomic journey through Middle Eastern cuisine from live cooking stations offering traditional delights including Ouzi, a lamb and rice dish infused with Arabic spices; Kebbeh bil Laban, meat balls made with beef and onions and simmered in a light yoghurt sauce; and Fish Sayadiyha, a classic fish dish served with spiced rice and caramelised onions. This year, new signature dishes include Chicken Mousakhan (Arabic chicken wraps), Chicken Fattah, a traditional layered Levant dish including bread crumbs, rice, yoghurt and chicken Lobster Tajeen with Couscous and Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Oriental rice. New desserts on offer include a traditional Qamar El Dine Dried Fruit Salad as well as the regular Turkish delight and nougat stations and a selection of Arabic Ice Cream mixed with regional favourites such as Baklawa, Arabic Coffee, Mistika, and Emirati Dates. Dhs 195/person. Timing: From sunset until 8:30pm and Suhour starts from 9:30pm-2:30am with a minimum spend of Dhs 150 /person, excluding shisha. More info here.
Yalumba in Le Meridien
Here, you can break your fast with mouth-watering Arabic specialties prepared by our team of Arabic Chefs. The lavish buffet includes an array of hot & cold mezzehs, warm soups, grills, live cooking stations, sweets, pastries and juices. Dhs 159/person, inclusive of Ramadan juices and water. Timing: From sunset till 8.30PM. More info here.
Sheraton Dubai, Mall of Emirates
Sanabel Restaurant offers not only a lavish Iftar Buffet that can be enjoyed with family and friends (younger guests have a dedicated kids’ corner with Wii and PlayStation), but but also lunch buffet packages starting from Dhs 45/person. Iftar packages start at Dhs 135/person and there are special group offers. More info here.
Still fancying a Friday Brunch during Ramadan?
Na3Na3 opens its doors to a sumptuous Organic Brunch where the dishes are served with fresh seasonal and locally sourced organic ingredients – literally from the farmer’s market to your plate. Dhs 295/person including soft beverages and Dhs 380/person including selected house beverages. Timing: Every Friday. 12.30 pm to 4 pm.
Interested in speciality Iftar fares?
An Arabic Affair at Halla Night at NA3NA3 in The Address Dubai Mall, where you can enjoy specialty dishes from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iran. You may choose from over 14 different mixed grills offerings, to freshly sought local seafood, created using Chef Hanna’s blend of recipes. Apart from these, you may also choose from a rich array of traditional food including a Live Roti Canai (hand-tossed Malaysian stuffed bread), Dim Sum and Sushi; a Noodle Station and an extensive range of curries from Indian to Thai and Japanese; Sago Gula Melaka (Malay Style Tapioca with Pal Sugar); and an exotic display of Asian fruits such as Dragon fruit, Thai Mango and Pineapples, Rambutan, and Mangosteen. Dhs 210/person including soft beverages and Dhs 265/person including selected house beverages. Timing: Every Friday 7 pm to 11 pm. More info here.
Mahec in Le Meridien is probably the only place in Dubai where you can enjoy Haleem along with other Indian specialities like Shahi Korma, Dum Biryani and array of Hot Kebabs. Dhs 149/person inclusive of Ramadan juices and water. Timing: From sunset until 8:30pm. More info here.
Or would rather order from an A La Carte Iftar menu?
Signature Iftar at Nawwara in JW Marriot Marquis, where you can experience Chef Youssef’s acclaimed Levantine cuisine, with a selection of classic sharing appetizers, followed by Chef’s signature main courses and a sumptuous dessert selection. Nawwara also serves shisha on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Dubai skyline. Dhs 195/person; Timing: From sunset until 9pm. More info here.
Sally, the author of My Custard Pie adds…
Everything here is prepared with such attention to detail it’s sublime including the super smooth, creamy, nutty, utterly scrumptious hummus.
Iftar at the Ivy where you can enjoy four à la carte courses of sensational sharing dishes where you can commence your feast with traditional Arabic dates, before continuing on to a selection of sharing entrées, including warm harissa with chick peas & feta, hummus with Arabic flat bread and chicken shish taouk with garlic toum. The Ivy’s Taste of Iftar main courses celebrate the tastes of the Middle East, with deliciously authentic options on offer including fish of the region, pan-fried Sultan Ibrahim with seafood machboos, lamb chermoula with simac-spiced cous cous and vegetarian Kushari with fattoush and moutabel. Close the evening by filling up with The Ivy’s dessert tasting plate of five Arabian-inspired puddings, such as Egyptian Mahalabiya, fruit skewers and a playful twist on the iconic British dessert – sticky toffee & date pudding. Dhs 250/person, including unlimited soft drinks and mocktails. Timing: From sunset onwards. More info here.
Cabana in The Address Dubai Mall offers an outdoor setting overlooking the pool and you can enjoy your shisha and order from a la carte. Timing: Sunset to 2am.
Karat in the Address Dubai Mall, the Lobby Lounge where you can experience Iftar and Suhoor with friends and loved ones from an a la carte Iftar menu with delectable mezzeh, salads, soups and traditional Arabic specialties including the popular Um Ali. Timing: Sunset to 12am.
New Iftars on the block
Nobu at Atlantis, for the first time will be offering Iftar during Ramadan. Chef Nobu’s signature dishes such as Steamed Seabass Dry Miso with Eggplant Puree and Creamy Rock Shrimp gets a spin with Iftar staples such as dried fruit and vegetables to break one’s fast. Dhs 270/person daily during Ramadan. More info here.
Choix Patisserie Par Pierre Gagnaire (above) at Intercontinental Dubai Festival City is offering a special Ramadan Bento Box, which includes Middle Eastern classics accompanied by soup, a fresh fruit platter, Arabic bread and assortment of sweet treats including dates, macarons, dry fruit, afternoon cake and Arabic delights. Dhs 360/2 persons; Available for Iftar and Suhour and Shisha service will be available in Choix Terrace from sunset. More info here.
Qbara offers a very contemporary Arabesque menu that has been quite a talk of the town recently with flavours and scents of the Magreb, Levant and greater Middle East. According to their official website, “The Q is calling” and you can enjoy a lavish Iftar buffet containing traditional Arabic dishes like roasted pumpkin soup with dukkah, lentil soup with crusty bread, Harira soup, Sayadiah, Chicken Tagine, slow cooked lamb ‘Ouzi style’. Dhs 18o/person; More info here.
Sally, author of My Custard Pie adds…
The modern take on Iftar sticks to tradition while throwing in a few unexpected notes into the mix. A carved silver platter dotted elegantly with an array of vegetables, salad leaves and herbs was a dainty version of the usual Lebanese vegetable arrangement but a truffle butter formed the surprising and really moreish dip. The hummus, mutabal and pickles were decent, the broad beans and feta really good and the harira soup (lentil and roast pumpkin are other choices) had me scooping up every last mouthful even though I knew there was much more to come.
If casual dining is your Kind of Iftar
St Tropez Bistro in MOE is a casual chic atmosphere adds perfection to the French twist to a flavor filled Ramadan. St. Tropez stick true to the it’s cuisine from a taste of the hearty bowl of pippin hot French soup to the succulent Grilled Corn-fed Chicken breast served with a side seasonal vegetables and to top of the Français inspired iftar menu, a vanilla bean crème brulee that caters an aroma to savour. Dhs 129/person for 2 courses and Dhs 159/person for three courses. More info here.
Sapori Di Bice in City Walk, Dubai
The Italian family dining set-up is another option to try out this Ramadan with a special Ramadan menu featuring an Italian take on traditional favorites such as Fattoush, lentil soup – the Ramadan staple and this lush, camel milk and saffron gelato with much more featured on a 10 course long menu. 10 courses for AED160. More info here.
Interested in special Takeaways?
A lot of places offer special Ramadan Takeaways, specially by way of business lunches. Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe’s newly opened deli cum cafe Omnia Gourmet is offering the concept – Slimming Ramadan. Everyday, Omnia Gourmet would open up by 3 pm during Ramadan and will take in orders by telephone. One can come in before the Iftar and pick up their specially prepared Ramadan boxes and take them home. All these boxes will have healthy, nutritious salads and meals.
Biryani Pot offers an interesting Ramadan special ‘Family Meal Combo’. Available for dine-in and takeaway, customers will be able to share a large family-sized iftar meal for four which includes a starter, a salad, two Biryanis, three curries and two tandoor grills. Dhs 180/combo. More info here.
Any thoughts of giving back during this Ramadan?
This is a great initiative from Moti Roti and other local businesses along with a few bloggers like Debbie is a part of, during Ramadan. Each night of Ramadan, the is to aim to fill the bellies of the labourers toiling in the summer heat. What you need to do? Just 30 mins before Iftar, turn up to the construction site next to Media Rotana, Tecom, and help the volunteers set up and handout food to the labourers. More info here.
What are your thoughts on Ramadan? Both as a Muslim observing the fast or as a non-Muslim expatriate? Two years back when I was in Kolkata during Ramadan, prodding through the crowded Mallick Bazar area, I was humbled by my Ramadan experience. As Iftar set in everybody set out to break their Roza and soon an amazing experience ensued. People formed groups – on the roads, in corners, behind stalls and prayed on the street and started picking on dates and nuts and other savories from the same plate. And I realised whether you say ‘Ramzan Mubarak’ or ‘Ramadan Kareem’, whether it is Mallick Bazar in Kolkata or Karama in Dubai, the essence of Ramadan is the same everywhere amongst all Muslim household the world wide. The next post would be a solemn one with thoughts on Ramadan from all my blogger friends and their cultural experiences in Dubai. Also, look out for some Iftar dining giveaways that I be organising over social media. Signing off by wishing all of you Ramadan Kareem much in advance!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
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