Historically Dubai was a difficult place to bring food in to, as it was so deserted. Fish would be salted and dried and sent into the city, while fruits, vegetables and cereals were grown as nearby as possible. This led to the Emirati people having to use creativity and imagination to sustain their diets and make something interesting to eat.
Shawarma has long been one of the most popular dishes in Dubai, and can be served high end or simple from a street kiosk or seller. You can have it with marinated chicken or beef and a few shredded veggies, pickles and sauces, all rolled up in a pita.
Breads and rice are a staple for any meal in Dubai, and you can always ask for more on the side if you’re hungry. You’ll also find that falafel and hummus are very popular.
There’s no pork in Dubai, but you’ll be able to try plenty of other meats instead. Ghuzi is one of the most popular foods in the city, simple cubes of lamb that have been marinated, threaded on a kebab stick and served on a bed of rice with vegetables and nuts. Machboos (casseroles) are also common as is diyai mashwi (grilled marinated chicken) and biryani (meat or fish cooked in rice).
Dubai’s a great place to be if you like your desserts. Esh asarya is a bit like a cheesecake with a cream topping, known as the ‘bread of the harem’. It has a delicious melt in the mouth texture. Mehalabiya is like a pudding dish, made from milk, sugar and ground cardamom, with a sprinkling of rosewater and pistachios on top.
Locals love their coffee, which is great for socialising in place of alcohol. This means coffee’s available everywhere and of high quality.