Qbara in Dubai

Stylish new Wafi venue brings new approach to Arabic food

It is hard to forecast cool.

Movies with a seemingly perfect cast fade from memory within weeks of launch because they lack that certain X-factor that makes other films stick with you for years. Bands burst onto the scene with a catchy single and you think you’ve found musicians you can grow old with, only for them to flop by the time the album comes out. A new haircut looks amazing in the salon but by the time you get home you’ve already decided to start shopping for hats.

Yes, predicting the next wave of cool is no simple task.

But sometimes you just know.

Sometimes the stars align and you discover something – be it a person, a book, a technology, a meme, a style, an art form or even a venue – and you just know it is going to make a difference.

Take Qbara, for example. On the face of it this is just another lounge to open on the already crowded nightlife scene in Dubai. Impressive design? Check. Modern menu? Check. Upscale ambience? So far, so Dubai.

See pictures of the Qbara Lounge in Dubai.

But cross the threshold and make time to visit and you’ll soon learn Qbara isn’t just a run of the mill Dubai lounge.

This is a venue with the potential to set new standards in the city. A venue that has all the hallmarks to become one of the coolest venues in Dubai.

Why are we so excited? Let’s start with the place itself. Located in the Wafi City complex it is within walking distance of some of the hottest nightlife venues in Dubai. The award-winning People by Crystal is in the nearby Raffles Hotel and Spin Dubai, the ‘ping pong bar’ with Hollywood connections is just around the corner.

Such illustrious neighbours set the tone for nightlife in the area but Qbara is a concept on the verge of taking things further. The striking interiors are planned by world-renowned restaurant architects Studio Glitt. Along with designer Noriyoshi Muramutsu the restaurant management team brings one of the most striking dining areas in the city. The same team behind the visual success of Zuma restaurants around the world and many of Tokyo’s most impressive restaurants has combined Middle Eastern hospitality with ultra-modern design principles of the Far East.

Stepping through the doors visitors are welcomed by an enormous ‘entrance script’. This giant artwork is more than four metres high and seven metres wide and includes poems and lifestyle statements around Qbara’s concept of a love for life and food as entertainment. Elsewhere flying carpets, ornate wall carvings and, this is Dubai after all, giant chandeliers compete for attention in the designer space.

There are distinctively different spaces with lighting and space playfully manipulated to give unique atmosphere in different parts of the same room. Three different majilis areas, a VIP space and lounge and dining areas suggest there is plenty to explore and repeat visits may be required to see the full space.

As much attention has been paid to the food at Qbara leading us to hope there will be substance to go with the style. Keep an eye on TimeOutDubai.com for the first impartial and independent review, but first let us whet your appetite.

The menu was put together by Colin Clague. The name may not trigger alarm bells but in foodie circles this is a man approaching celebrity chef status in Dubai. As well as being the opening chef at both Zuma Dubai and The Ivy, Clague was art of part of the pre-opening team at the Burj Al Arab. The result is a menu based on cuisine of the Levant, East Mediterranean and North Africa but, as we’re already getting used to with Qbara, with a modern twist.

Look out for dishes such as duck breast with pomegranate molasses, lobster kibbeh with avocado labneh and tempura dates with tamarind sorbet. The dishes may sound familiar but it is unlikely you will have tried these combinations before.

See pictures of the Qbara Lounge in Dubai.

Arabic food has been re-engineered by the Qbara chefs and the venue itself could change Dubai nightlife.

Now that would be cool.

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