First things first: new arrivals to Dubai may well be wondering exactly what Ramadan is. The (very) short answer is: a time for all Muslims to purge their souls and feel closer to God while fasting during daylight hours for an entire month. The long answer is a bit harder to fully understand – as to focus on the fasting ritual is to miss Ramadan’s bigger picture. Ramadan is a state of mind, a chance to strengthen your consideration, patience and humility, and to refocus on the important things in life – family and loved ones, with whom fasters meet daily to break fast at an iftar feast.
This year, the Holy Month is very likely to run from August 1-29, a time when daylight hours are at their longest, and non-fasters need to try especially hard to empathise with those fasting. But whatever your religion, all Dubai residents must read on in order to make the most of the next four weeks, a period which will see the city completely transform.
1 Al Bahou Best for: A brand-new iftar experience Iftar at Al Bahou, which is the main atrium of the hotel, offers an extensive buffet, as well as live entertainment courtesy of traditional oud and tabla players. The hotel also offers a specially designed majlis tent for private, family and corporate gatherings. Dhs140. Sunset-8pm. Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel (04 444 0000)
2 Al Khaima Best for: A traditional Ramadan experience
A Ramadan tent will be set up in the hotel’s beautiful landscaped gardens. In addition to the regular à la carte menu, Al Khaima will be serving a special Arabic set menu throughout the Holy Month, which includes a selection of hot and cold mezze, mixed grill, umm ali and a platter of exotic fruits. Board games, cards, 30 types of shisha and other entertainment will also be on hand for you to enjoy with family and friends. Advanced booking is required.
Dhs250. Sunset-8pm. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa (04 316 5550)
3 Almaz by Momo Best for: A stylish Affair
This stylish venue tucked away in the Mall of the Emirates will be providing various Moroccan and Arabic delicacies for the breaking of the fast – and for Dhs20 extra,
you can puff away at a shisha pipe.
Dhs165. Sunset-8.30pm. Almaz by Momo, Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates (04 409 8877)
4 Azur Best for: Shisha
Azur overlooks the Raffles Botanical Garden. Guests have the option of dining outside on the patio adjoining Crossroads Lounge, where the shisha sommelier will be on hand to recommend fruity flavours.
Dhs175, half price for kids aged six-12, free for under sixes. Sunset-9.30pm. Raffles Dubai, Wafi, Oud Metha (04 324 9888)
5 Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa Best for: An Out-of-town vibe
Bab al Shams is offering a unique Arabian nights desert experience – Arabic delicacies will be prepared at live cooking stations, while a special cultural experience will be on offer at the ‘heritage village’ set up at Al Hadheerah. Bab Al Shams is also offering special room rates throughout Ramadan (Dhs750 per night; includes complimentary in-room suhoor or iftar at Al Hadheerah).
Dhs195. Sunset onwards. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, BAS.Restaurants@meydanhotels.com (04 809 6194)
6 Boulvar Best for: Budget Eats
Savour the flavour of fine Arabic cuisine at bargain-basement prices. Boulvar will put
on a classic iftar spread, featuring a range of grilled meats, mezze and thirst-quenching traditional drinks.
Dhs99. Sunset-8pm. Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, Baniyas Road (04 205 7333)
7 Café Arabesque Best for: Traditional Arabic fare
Celebrating the culinary delights of the Levant, Café Arabesque offers a rich, traditional and classy Arabic iftar buffet, featuring more than 40 different kinds of cold and hot mezze, soups, and ouzi served with oriental rice, rotisserie dishes, carvings, kebabs and more than 10 main course options. Recommended.
Dhs165. Sunset-10pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira Creek (04 317 2222)
8 Cavalli Club Best for: An opulent evening
Throughout Ramadan, Cavalli Club will be putting on a gourmet spread, featuring a number of traditional Arabic dishes with a fashionable twist. Music will be provided by pianist Malika Omar.
Dhs150. Sunset. Cavalli Club, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 9260)
9 Fazaris Best for: A blend of different cuisines
Experience an international culinary journey with a cosmopolitan blend of cuisines to
the backdrop of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain. Break your fast with traditional dates and coffee, followed by a buffet accompanied by Arabic tunes.
Dhs185 (book by July 31 and get a 10 per cent discount on groups of eight or more adults). Sunset-8pm. The Address Downtown, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 438 8928)
10 Iftar on the slopes Best for: an Alternative setting
Those looking to share the season in the exclusive company of family and friends will be able to enjoy Chef Hania's creations in the privacy of the Grand Ski Chalet overlooking Ski Dubai, where an iftar set menu will be served in a richly adorned majlis. Bookings can be made for up to 12 guests, six guests can also choose to book a night’s stay at the Chalet.
Dhs395. Sunset-late (depending on booking). Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, www.kempinski.com/dubai (04 341 0000)
11 JW Marriott Best for: Grandeur
This unique iftar takes place in a grand indoor tent in the hotel’s atrium. Complete with rich drapery, comfortable cushions and seating, the ambience reflects the spirit of Ramadan.
Dhs150. Sunset-8.30pm. JW Marriott Hotel Dubai, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Hamarain Centre, Deira (04 607 7977)
12 Meydan Hotel Best for: A complete Ramadan Experience
The larger-than-life Meydan is set to put on a luxurious iftar; break your fast at Farriers before heading to suhoor at the Meydan majlis, which will feature views of the lush green racecourse and the desert beyond. There will also be Ramadan-themed entertainment and handcrafted gifts and homewares on sale at the Meydan bazaar.
Dhs150. Sunset-9pm. The Meydan Hotel, Meydan Racecourse (04 381 3111)
13 Palm Garden Best for: Families
Every year this hotel creates a Ramadan tent on the beach to replicate a desert setting. A wide selection of Arabic and international dishes will be presented, as well as live cooking stations for manakeesh, naan, pasta and tempura. On the beach next to the main tent there will be a Bedouin tent serving Arabic coffee, and guests can also have a free camel ride. There will be organised activities for kids, a live band and a majlis area offering board and card games, as well as flavoured shishas.
Dhs180. Sunset-3am. Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort & Towers (04 315 3218)
14 THE One Best for: A boutique iftar experience
Celebrate Iftar at THE One Jumeirah Deli with a buffet of traditional Arabic and international dishes including Moroccan hummus soup, lamb tagine and caramel-pistachio torte. To keep you on your toes (and stop you getting bored of the same old iftar fare) the spread changes daily.
Dhs99, Dhs49 (kids under 12). Sunset-8.30pm. Near Jumeirah Mosque, opposite Palm Strip Mall (04 345 6687)
15 Zafran Best for: An Indian-style iftar
Zafran will be offering a menu, which gives classic staples a twist – think a salad with tandoori paneer and artichokes with a cucumber, tomato and mango chutney; lentil and chicken broth with coriander, lemon and ginger; a selection of meats and much more.
Dhs99. 6.30pm-late. Zafran, Mirdif City Centre (04 284 0987)
Atlantis certainly doesn’t cut corners — enjoy a festive iftar buffet featuring a tahina fountain (we can’t make this up even if we tried) and a live icecream station in a stunning Arabian-themed tent, complete with Playstation consoles, traditional games and plenty of live music.
Dhs160 per person; Dhs80 for three-12-year-olds, under threes eat for free. Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 1000).
17 Al Majlis
Experience an authentic Arabian iftar in a gorgeous tent all decked out in traditional finery. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet spread including dates, fruit platters and a host of Arabic delicacies. Stay on till late to enjoy traditional entertainment and sample a special suhoor menu. VIP Private Majlis for 30 guests and 15 guests are sold at a minimum of Dhs150 per person, for seating from 9pm onwards.
Dhs195 per person; half price for four-12 year olds; under fours eat for free; a la carte prices apply for suhoor. Jumeirah (04 366 8888).
Lots of delicious Moroccan treats on offer at Tagine’s deloicious iftar buffet. Major points for ambience- the restaurant has moody rooms and alcoves speckled with lovely artisan rugs and lanterns.
Dhs175 per person. One&Only Royal Mirage (04 399 9999).
19 Al Nafoorah
This crowd-favorite has been serving up delicious Lebanese cuisine for a long time now, and continues to do what it’s best at this Holy Month. Enjoy Lebanese delicacies, eclectic favourites and traditional beverages in a lively atmosphere till 8.30pm. Round off the evening with flavoured shisha in the outdoor marquee.
Dhs180 per person. Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8088).
This high-end Iranian restaurant, complements its iftar spread with splendid views of the creek. The price includes a main course and buffet dessert.
Dhs125. Sunset-8pm. Radisson Blu Hotel (04 222 7171).
21 Al Dawaar
This swanky revolving restaurant (classic eighties!) serves up a sumptuous iftar buffet with traditional Emirati dishes and Ramadan favourites, along with stunning 360 degree views of the city. Dhs150 per person; half price for six-12 year olds; under sixes eat for free.
Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
22 Al Mansour
The Radisson’s traditional dhow cruises the creek and offers mountains of traditional iftar drinks and delicacies. The iftar cruise is available for group or private bookings only. Prices start at Dhs110. Sunset-8pm. Radisson Blu Hotel (04 222 7171).
During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Armani/Mediterraneo will welcome the guests an extensive buffet of traditional Mediterranean and Arabic dishes along with a selection of Ramadan juices.
Dhs235. Sunset-9.30pm. Armani Hotel Dubai (04 888 3444).
24 Diwan Al Khayal
There’s a variety of suhoor delicacies on offer here, including saj manakish, hot and cold mezze, seafood and charcoal meat grills. Round off your evening with tasty Ramadan sweet treats and flavoured shisha, whilst being entertained by a novel Arabic ensemble. Special rates and private majlises are available for groups of eight and over. Minimum spend of Dhs100 per person excluding shisha.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999).
If you’re in the mood for sea food tagine, chicken pastille and golden, perfectly steamed couscous, look no further than this Moroccan eatery. Enjoy an iftar buffet until 10pm with delicious Moroccan specialties and Ramadan beverages.
Dhs160 per person. Shangri-La Hotel (04 405 2703).
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faizan khan Aug 03, 2012 09:35 am
nice ramadan s beutiful in dubai
Sue Aug 21, 2011 01:02 pm
I'm expert in Fetoor for many restaurants and hotels, and to have Meydaan Hotel as # 12 is a big jok I think, it is the worse ever place I have ever been in, waist of time and money. There is no variation in food and we had a cup of coffee with lip stick in it, do I need to say more??!!
This year I was amazed with The Palace Hotel in Old Town (Al Iwaan) really good food many choices and great staff
Raffels still doing great.
malone Aug 19, 2011 12:20 pm
tryin to book asateer at atlantis for the past one week, they keep on saying its completely booked, today they said its completely booked for the whole month!
Manal Aug 17, 2011 07:33 am
Every year since the Ramadan tent at the InterContinental Dbai Festival City was opened I go but this year I've seen a massive change to the decor and ambiance.
Sorry to say that this year they focused on the internal decoration and not the food. Previous years the food was far better. Ther used to be a live shawarma stand and various options from veg to no veg. This year the food is very limited.
jeorge mathew Aug 12, 2011 12:28 pm
I totally agree with Meltdown, how come 25 rest are reviewed by Time out ...i dont trust there judgement