Welcome, event planners, to our ultimate Dubai food guide. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to wow your guests. From drinks ideas to bread, sides, sweets, mains, and more, it’s all covered.
And as well as discovering hot tips for your event catering in Dubai, you’ll read a concise journey through Emirati cuisine that you can use to impress your guests with your local knowledge.
But the spirit of food in Dubai goes further than just classic Arab dishes. Down below, you’ll see influences from Turkey to India and further beyond.
So get reading, enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for bonus expert advice along the way!
When it comes to event catering in Dubai, you need to start with Arabic coffee. Aside from being delicious, it’s an important part of the local culture. It’s a drink to welcome guests and express warmth and generosity.
Arabic coffee tends to be more bitter than most other styles of coffee and has a distinct scent of cardamom. You’ll often find it comes in ornate Arabic coffee pots poured into handleless cups. And where possible, make sure to enjoy your coffee with fresh organic dates.
And if you didn’t already know, the sale of and consumption of alcohol is regulated in Dubai. In fact, its cocktail scene is only growing.
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So before going out to try the local Emirati cuisine, why not try a Turkish-style Anatolian Fizz, made from sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses, citrus, rose and raspberry?
The bread section of our Dubai food guide is kicking off with a staple of Emirati Cuisine, Khameer. It’s a date-sweetened bread that you’ll struggle to put down. It’s tasty enough on its own, or you can get them stuffed with everything from cheese to chicken and kafta (meatballs)
Most event caterers in Dubai will offer Khubz, a classical Arabic side dish. You might recognise it as a pita. It’s divine however you have it, but it’s best enjoyed with fresh hummus or mutabal (an aubergine dip).
And the final recommendation for the bread section of our Dubai food guide is Manousheh. A flatbread with a crispy outside and soft, chewy interior. These delights – originally from Lebanon – are typically enjoyed over breakfast, with cheese, herbs, and olive oil. In modern times eggs and vegetables have come to be used as toppings too.
Kicking the main’s section of our Dubai food guide is Margoogat. It’s a stew comprised of meat, tomatoes, cumin, and bezar (a garam masala-style spice mix). This staple of Emirati cuisine has lots of regional variations. You’ll usually find it made from chicken or lamb, with some even made from potatoes or marrow.
So, although not traditional to Emirati cuisine, camel produce has become increasingly popular with chefs and locals alike. You’ll see camel meat creatively implemented in burgers, stews, and biryani, to camel milk being used to make ice cream. It’s quite an experience.
A classical Arabic dish that you’ll see a lot of is Machboos. It’s a traditional rice dish – cooked over a long time in large pots. Inside, you’ll have a stunning blend of meats, onions, loomi (dried limes), and baharat – a classical Arabic spice mix. Typically the meat will be chicken. However, it’s not uncommon to see lamb and seafood versions.
Our final Arabic dish in the main’s section is Al Harees. This porridge-like dish is made from ground wheat and meat. It is particularly popular around Ramadan, cultural celebrations, and large social gatherings. It’s cooked for hours until the two congeal, then it’s topped with ghee or clarified butter. It’s nourishing, comforting, and a core fixture in homely Emirati cuisine.
4. Sweets & Sides
One snack you should definitely ask your event caterer in Dubai to make is Luqaimat. These sweet deep fried dumplings have a similar taste and texture to a doughnut. They’re served with a sticky date sauce and garnished with sesame seeds. Make sure to serve them to your guests with some hot Arabic coffee.
As we noted earlier in this Dubai food guide, there are a lot of foreign influences in Emirati cuisine. And one of the standouts has to be samosas. Hailing from India, these fried or baked pastries are usually filled with meat and, or, vegetables, with a mix of spices. An interesting local take is a three-cheese filling.
The next Arabic dish you absolutely have to try is Knafeh. It’s a pastry whose origins can be traced back to Palestine. This wonderful snack is made from cheese, crisp sugar syrup and dough. It’s best eaten while it’s still hot, and is great with fresh cream.
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Now, if you’re looking for an Arab dish that is light and healthy, we know, you’ve waited till the end, but finally, we present you, Tabbouleh. It’s a charming salad made from tomatoes, green onions, and cucumber seasoned with fresh mint and lemon juice. It works as a stand-alone meal or as a refreshing side.
So there you have it, our Dubai food guide laid out in full. We hope you’re as excited about your next visit as we are!
And as well as having some fantastic cuisine, there are spectacular venues in Dubai too. We should know. Exciting corporate event spaces are our thing. So do yourself a favour and check out our selection.
But before you go, make sure you take advantage of our expert advice while you’re here. For example, here’s our guide to why you should hire a production company for your events. You’ll be thankful you had a peak, trust us!
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