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Dubai’s Delights: A Culinary Journey Through Traditional Emirati Dishes

From the grandeur of its skyscrapers to the expanse of its deserts, Dubai is a city of contrasts. Among its most overlooked treasures, however, are its culinary traditions. Beyond the glitzy international restaurants lies a world of Emirati dishes, each narrating a tale of trade, tradition, and togetherness. Join us as we delve into Dubai’s rich culinary history, revealing the stories behind its most iconic dishes.

Traditional dishes in Dubai
 A bustling Dubai spice souk, showcasing an array of spices and herbs used in traditional cooking.

1. Al Harees: A Dish of Celebration

  • Ingredients: Simplistic at heart, Al Harees boasts just three ingredients – wheat, meat (usually chicken or lamb), and a touch of salt.
  • Preparation: Mixed together and soaked overnight, the combination is then transferred to a clay pot, and cooked over coals, traditionally for an entire night. The result? A smooth, porridge-like consistency that’s both hearty and flavorful.
  • Cultural Significance: Reserved for very special occasions such as Ramadan, weddings, and Eid celebrations, Al Harees symbolizes festivity in the Emirati community.

2. Ghuzi: The Emirates’ Grand Feast

  • Ingredients: At the heart of Ghuzi is roasted lamb, which sits atop a bed of nut-studded rice. Packed with flavors, it also has boiled eggs and veggies on the side.
  • Preparation: The lamb is roasted to perfection, ensuring its juices seep into the rice below. Garnished with almonds and raisins, it’s a dish that’s both savory and slightly sweet.
  • Cultural Significance: Ghuzi is the go-to dish for grand occasions. Served to guests during major festivals and large family gatherings, it’s a symbol of Emirati hospitality.

3. Luqaimat: Dubai’s Sweet Droplets

  • Ingredients: Made from simple ingredients like butter, sugar, yeast, and cardamom, these little dough balls are a favorite sweet treat.
  • Preparation: The dough is deep-fried until golden brown and then drenched in date syrup or honey, offering a crunchy exterior with a soft, fluffy inside.
  • Cultural Significance: Often enjoyed during Ramadan or as a delightful dessert after meals, Luqaimat connects generations, evoking nostalgia and modern enjoyment alike.


Dubai, with its awe-inspiring skyline, might be looking towards the future, but its soul lies deeply rooted in its traditions, especially its culinary ones. Each dish tells a story, echoing tales of Bedouin life, of grand feasts, of simple joys. To truly understand and appreciate the essence of Dubai, one must, quite literally, take a taste.


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