Dining in the UAE is an extraordinarily multicultural experience with a virtual UN of ethnic cuisines to choose from. Lebanese and Indian fare are the most prevalent, but you can feast on anything from Afghan kebabs to British fish and chips, German sauerkraut to South African boerewors (sausage). Thanks to the vast number of Asian and subcontinental restaurants, vegetarians have no problem finding delicious meals.
Essential Food & Drink
Restaurants serving Emirati food used to be rare but thankfully this is changing. If you do get a chance, try these typical dishes – and don't miss out on the succulent local dates.
- Balaleet Scrambled eggs with cardamom-scented vermicelli noodles
- Fareed Lamb stew layered with flat bread
- Harees Porridge-like stew made from cracked wheat and slow-cooked chicken or lamb; sometimes called the 'national dish'
- Khuzi Stuffed whole roasted lamb on a bed of spiced rice
- Madrooba Salt-cured fish in gravy
- Machboos Casserole of meat or fish, rice and onions cooked in a spicy sauce
In cosmopolitan Dubai and Abu Dhabi, taking global fare local has been a recent trend. Following the farm-to-table credo, many chefs now grow their own herbs or vegetables, pick up fresh produce from the farmers market and source their eggs from farms in Al Ain and their fish from Ras Al Khaimah. The last couple of years have also brought a proliferation of food trucks, restaurants serving Emirati cuisine, health-conscious cafes and products made from camel milk.
Pork is available for non-Muslims in a special room at some larger supermarkets such as Spinneys. In many hotel restaurants, pork is a menu item and is clearly labelled as such.