I can’t believe we’re two weeks into Ramadan already! Each year I become more and more acclimated to Dubai’s sudden vibrational shift. This is when nightlife comes to halt, and the city is brimming with Ramadan decorations and a superfluity of advertisements for lavish Iftars & Suhoors. The din of after-work rush hour traffic switches to 2p-4p, the quiet of self-reflection and abstemiousness is embraced, and the delectable aroma of something sweet and oily being deep-fried nearby seduces you each night.
One thing I noticed this year is that there are a lot more restaurants open during the day. Of course, this makes me happy. Somehow, I am not surprised. Dubai’s demographic is mostly expat, after all. There are also over 15,000 food outlets in Dubai, so just imagine the financial hit they take when they shut down during daytime hours.
I’m also delighted to see the Ramadan fridges are back. One thing, though, people: Please be sure to place more fruits, water, and healthy snacks instead of junk food in these fridges. Keep in mind that not everyone in the world regularly eats Ding Dongs or should be for that matter. That should not even be considered food.
Yesterday, I was out running errands and ended up spending more time than I anticipated at Dubai Municipality at Al Marana. Since it’s forbidden to eat in public during Ramadan out of respect for those who are fasting, I usually take a good swig of water before I hit the streets. Well, yesterday, forgot. ಠ_ಠ By the time I was done, I was thirstier than a camel in a sweater on 611. I was also famished. Yes, I know – shame on me to even complain about that since I’m not the one who has to wait until 7 pm to eat. 🙂
So, I remembered that Black Tap Craft Burger was open during the day. I inaudibly squealed with joy and boogied down Jumeirah Beach Road to the beautiful Al Naseem Hotel, where Black Tap lives. There I saw expats eating and drinking with abandon. Just another one of Dubai dubious parallels. But I ain’t mad. Works for me!
One thing I have a love/hate relationship with is the endless number of Iftars during the Holy Month. Don’t get me wrong — I love them more than I hate them because they are truly a cultural culinary Pleasuredome. But it’s just that they are – in fact – buffets. I have successfully managed to avoid buffets for some time now. It’s just too hard to navigate through all those food choices. I see the anxious buffet-goers with their mile-high piles of food and become instantly turned off. I mean – are we really built to eat that much in ONE sitting?
So each year I try to pick just one Iftar to go too. Like we say in Spanish – para coperar. My father used to use that phrase a lot.😊 Although its literal meaning is “to cooperate,” the context he used it in (or Puerto Ricans, I supposel) was different. It’s meant more like: I will partake in what you are doing to show support.
So done, so be it. I go on to choose Al Hadeerah’s Iftar, round up some of my favorite expat chicas and off we go into the desert horizon to arrive just in time before fast-breaking.
It’s quite a drive there way past the edge of civilization through the Al Qudra Desert. Mother Nature granted us the special treat of a rare glimpse of some desert wildlife — Patagonian maras! Well, at least we think that’s what they are, based on my Google search. If I’m wrong, please correct me! All I know is that the taxi came to a screeching halt just for us to glue our faces to the inside of the car’s window, giggle, point, and click away. Quite a hilarious scenario! 😀
Lo and behold, we arrived to find anxious guests already lined up to get in. Fortunately, one of the ladies in my group got there before us, so we were seated immediately. We walk into nothing less than an absolute foodie paradise. I’m talking the whole nine yards! A stunning and well-balanced representation of MENA-Region cuisine, including Levant, Moroccan, and Emirati food.
The food at Al Hadeerah will not let you down. You’ll find those chilled sweet Ramadan juices along with shiny copper chafing dishes filled to the rim with sweet & savory tangines, Emirati stews (chicken mussakan, lamb saloona, moulokhya), a heart-stopping traditional Lamb Ouzi, and endless options of salads. The penultimate course of their magnificent presentation of food is the dessert station, including the usual charming Turkish ice-cream cart.
Throw in the oud player, tanouri dancers, and their dramatic live heritage show chock-full of galloping horses, strutting camels, and running sheep depicting life “before all this” and you got yourself a helluva evening out in Dubai’s desert landscape. Service was exceptional, so no complaints there.
But what I loved, even more, was the on-premise storyboard exhibit on Bedouin life. It’s hard to believe this is what life was like here in the past. It started with one large tribe who settled in Dubai Creek in 1833. Since then, Dubai has grown into a megalopolis that is now one of the emirates (states) in one of the richest countries in the world. It’s quite a fascinating history if you take the time to read about it, but I highly recommend a visit to the Al Ain Palace Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding’s Heritage Tour for some insight on the UAE’s history, lineage, and culture.
How’s your Ramadan month going so far? Have you been to any nice Iftars? Please do tell! What have you done to give back during this Holy Month? If you are a faster, please share your experiences!