Dubai is a place that is always filled with tourists. What attracts people to this glitzy city, filled with high-rise buildings? For some, it is the wide variety of malls, for others it is the old world charm, but what attracts me the most to this city is the food. Dubai is a city, where if you can dream of a dish, you can find it!
During the holy month of Ramadan though, things change completely, at least during the day. Dubai’s bustling restaurant scene virtually goes into hibernation mode for the regular part of the day; only opening up later in the evening, once the faithful have broken their fast. It is an amazing cultural and religious phenomenon; one that can only be put into perspective, once you pose the fundamental question: What is Ramadan? In essence, Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and fasting observed by Muslims around the world. In the UAE and Dubai in particular, it is a way of life; an event of tremendous significance for both emiratis and expats alike. During Ramadan in Dubai, eating or drinking in public places is prohibited. This strict rule is in place to ensure that devout Muslims are not deterred in their focus while observing their fast, which in the sweltering heat of the Middle East is probably one of the toughest acts of physical endurance that you could dream up, and then some!
Now then, how does a Dubai newbie and foodie to boot, survive during Ramadan in Dubai? Well, if you are staying with a friend or at a hotel, it is best for you to plan a midday break and head home for lunch, where you can wolf down your food within the confines of your room. Otherwise you might find yourself staring longingly at food, without being able to eat any of it.
The best part about Ramadan are the lavish spreads on offer all around the city, once the sun sets. From small roadside stalls to five-star buffets, you can experience a culinary extravaganza! Here is a look at what one of the street vendors had on display in the bylanes of Dubai. From piping hot samosas to spicy bondas, from pakoras to vadas, from dates to freshly cut watermelon, he had a delicious array of treats to offer every passerby! Now multiply what you see by hundred, in terms of both quality and quantity,and that’s what you can expect at any of the finer hotels in the city!
Muslims the world over, fast for different periods of time, but in the UAE this year, people fast for roughly fifteen hours and break their fast only once the sun sets. They cannot consume a single drop of water or eat a morsel of food until then. At the time of Iftar, family and friends gather together to break their fast together.
It’s awesome to make friends with locals in Dubai who are keen on inviting tourists into their homes, to partake in Iftar. Some friends of mine invited me to share in their meal, when they broke their fast. We began with dates stuffed with macdemia nuts and almonds.
We then dug into some heavenly Lebanese food (special rice wrapped in vine leaves) and pasta and washed it all down with laban, which is a mixture of yogurt, cold water and salt.
If all these Ramadan pictures have got your mouth watering, then you know which place to visit next year, during this month!