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Luqaimat (lugaimat in Emirati dialect), a traditional Emirati dessert, served with Arabic coffee.

Emirati cuisine is the local traditional Arabic cuisine of the United Arab Emirates. It is part of Eastern Arabian cuisine and shares similarities with cuisines from neighboring countries, such as Omani cuisine and Saudi Arabian cuisine, as well as influences from different Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines.

As a major international hub, the United Arab Emirates today has a multicultural variety of cuisines from different parts of the world.



Cultivation of date palms in the area can be traced back to the mid-third millennium BC (commonly referred to as the Umm al-Nar period in the United Arab Emirates) from which many date seeds have been found in Umm al-Nar sites. The presence of grinding stones and fired clay ovens in archaeological sites indicate that grain processing was also performed. Studies of human dental remains dating back to the third millennium show a high level of attrition which is believed to result from the mastication of dry bread. [1]

Modern history

The cuisine which originated in the area that is now the United Arab Emirates and was previously the Trucial States is formed by a similar Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine which is consumed in the wider Arabian Peninsula. The food is a mixture of a Bedouin diet, consisting of meat and camel milk, a fisherman's diet, consisting mainly of fish common in the Persian Gulf, and a farmer's diet, consisting mainly of dates. A blend of these diets as well as a mixture of spices such as cinnamon, saffron, and turmeric formed the basis of the common dishes consumed in the Trucial states region and the current traditional Emirati cuisine. [2]

The traditional food of the United Arab Emirates uses much meat, grain, and dairy. Vegetables that are easy to grow in fertile soil, such as cucumbers and tomatoes, are strongly featured in the diet. Dried lemons, called loomi, are also heavily featured, grown locally, and used in most dishes. Mangos are also grown, usually in the northern emirates in villages such as Masafi. Meats traditionally used are chicken or small fowl, such as Houbara bustards, and goats. As camels are highly prized for their milk and transporting ability, the eating of camel meat is normally reserved for special occasions.

The dishes are usually like stews, as everything is often cooked in a single pot. Saffron, cardamom, turmeric, and thyme are the core flavors used in Emirati cookery. Rice was added to the diet when traders moved to the region.[ when?] Leaves from indigenous trees, such as the ghaff, were also used to stuff small birds for enhanced flavor.

Traditional dishes include maq'louba, margooga, harees, machbous, frsee'ah, fireed, jisheid, and mishwy. Breakfast in the UAE usually features breads like raqaq, khameer, and chebab, served with cheese, date syrup, or eggs. These were made over a curved hot plate, resembling a stone, which would have been used by the Bedouins. Balaleat is another dish, but its advent began with the traders, who introduced pasta.

Sweet options include luqeymat, a deep-fried ball of pancake batter that is rolled in sesame seeds and then drizzled with date honey. Other desserts include khabeesa, bread crumbs blended with sugar, cardamom, and saffron, or bethitha, semolina blended with crushed dates, cardamom, and clarified butter.

At the close of the meal, it is usual to serve a red tea infused with mint as a digestive. Other mealtime traditions include a welcome with dates and gahwah ( Arabic coffee), which are offered on arrival and are kept available throughout the guest's visit.

Levantine cuisine is sometimes confused with Emirati/Gulf, but shawarma, hummous, tabbouleh, and mixed grill, whilst having similar characteristics, are fairly recent additions to the Emirati diet.[ citation needed]

Foods and dishes

Kuboos ( flatbread) being prepared in Abu Dhabi

Seafood has been the mainstay of the Emirati diet for centuries. [3] The United Arab Emirates cuisine is a reflection of an Arabian heritage and exposure to other civilizations over time. As the consumption of pork is forbidden under Muslim law, it is not included in most menus. Hotels frequently have pork substitutes such as beef, chicken, sausage, and veal rashers on their breakfast menus. If pork is available, it is clearly labelled as such.

Meat, fish, and rice are the staple foods of Emirati cuisine. Lamb and mutton are the more favored meats rather than goat, beef, and camel meat. Dates are usually consumed with meals.

Popular beverages are coffee and tea, which can be supplemented with cardamom, saffron, or mint to give it a distinct flavor. [4]

Alcohol is generally only served in hotel restaurants and bars (but not in Sharjah). All nightclubs and golf clubs are permitted to sell alcohol. Specific supermarkets may sell pork in a separate section of the market. [5]

Dishes forming part of the Emirati cuisine include: [6] [7]


Traditional Arabic tea in the UAE


Dubai Food Festival

The inaugural Dubai Food Festival was held from 21 February to 15 March 2014. [10] According to Vision the event was aimed at enhancing and celebrating Dubai's position as the gastronomic capital of the region. The festival was designed to showcase the variety of flavours and cuisines on offer in Dubai featuring the cuisines of over 200 nationalities at the festival. [11]


  1. ^ Gosden, Chris; Hather, Jon G. (14 January 2004). The Prehistory of Food: Appetites for Change. Routledge. pp. 85–86. ISBN  978-0415117654.
  2. ^ Dubai Complete Residents' Guide. Explorer Publishing. 30 November 2006. p. 29. ISBN  9768182768.
  3. ^ "24-year-old Emirati fish seller vows to preserve ancestral occupation". Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  4. ^ "UAE Travel& Tourism: Food & Drink". UAEinteract. Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  5. ^ "Alcohol and Pork Licenses - Allo' Expat Abu Dhabi". 2009-05-30. Archived from the original on 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  6. ^ "Welcome to Abu Dhabi - Emirati Cuisine". 2009-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  7. ^ "10 Emirati delicacies you just can't miss while travelling to UAE". Khaleej Times. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "A taste of Emirati cuisine". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
  9. ^ Emaratilicious - (18 October 2016). "خبز الجباب الإماراتي Emarati pancakes chubab" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Dubai Food Festival". Dubai Food Festival. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  11. ^ East, Ben (February 2014). "Taste of culture: Dubai Food Festival". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.

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