Dishes to try on a vacation in the UAE

Acquaintance with a new country cannot be called complete without acquaintance with its cuisine. Gourmets will definitely like tours to the UAE, because here they know a lot about delicious food, and the variety of dishes will impress even the most seasoned travelers!

What dishes are worth trying on vacation in the UAE and where to get acquainted with the traditional cuisine of the region – read on.

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UAE dishes

History and traditions of UAE cuisine

The cuisine of the Emirates is quite exotic, but still it is very similar to the cuisines of other Arab countries. Its formation was influenced by the location of the country, natural and climatic conditions and religious characteristics. The dishes that can be tasted in the UAE today are largely borrowed from Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia. As in other Asian countries, rice, meat and fish are considered traditional products. Due to the fact that the UAE is a maritime country, seafood is not the last place in the local cuisine.

The state religion of the United Arab Emirates is Islam, so it is extremely difficult to find pork dishes here. There are also certain restrictions in the operating rules of local food establishments – in Ramadan they open only after sunset, and there are no alcoholic drinks in them. However, recently, many good European establishments have opened in the country, which are allowed to trade in alcohol. The best restaurants are located in hotels, many of them awarded with Michelin stars.

What dishes are worth trying in the UAE?

Most of the Arab national dishes contain meat, which is very generously seasoned. It is usually cooked over a fire without adding additional fat. It will not be easy for vegetarians to find suitable dishes here. A full dinner in the UAE involves a whole set of appetizers (here they are called meze), a main course with a side dish and dessert. Locals love to dine slowly, enjoying food and table conversation.


Any serious meal in the UAE begins with a meze, consisting of a variety of snacks. Their number can reach two to three dozen, and they are served in small plates or on a special dish with small cells. Meze consists of fresh vegetable salads, mutabbal eggplant caviar, chickpea hummus, tabbouleh salad with bulgur, pies with cheese or meat, nut and garlic paste and much more. Lavash or pita cakes are usually served with the appetizers. In many restaurants serving national cuisine in the UAE, meze is served free of charge as an aperitif before main courses.

Main courses

A lot of meat is eaten in the UAE. Usually, dishes are prepared here from mutton, veal, lamb, goat, chicken, and camel meat can be found. You should definitely try the delicious and hearty biryani stew with rice and vegetables (less often it is cooked with fish). Guzi – lamb meat with rice and nuts has a unique taste. Noteworthy is the local shawarma, which is strikingly different from ours, as well as Arab kebabs and lyulyakebab. Fish and seafood are usually served here without any special frills – just fried with spices. The main meat dishes are often garnished with rice, bulgur or corn grits, as well as local thin rakak bread, kamir buns or sambus pies. What to try in the UAE for exotic lovers? Of course, an unusual burger with a camel cutlet! Although it is worth noting that it does not have a particularly original taste.

Desserts and drinks

Eastern sweets are a topic for another article! Sherbets, baklava, Turkish delight, halva, puddings and donuts taste amazing here. Lukamat balls in date syrup, the most delicate malabi milk pudding served with fruit syrups and a fragrant khabis dessert with a spicy taste stand out. One cannot but pay tribute to the local dried fruits: dates in honey or in chocolate with almonds instead of seeds – this is an incomparable pleasure!

When buying a ticket to the UAE, you need to take into account that the culture of drinking is not widespread in this country. Usually it can be bought (at a fairly high price) only in hotel restaurants. The main drinks here are tea and coffee, where saffron, mint, cardamom or cinnamon are added for flavor. Coffee is prepared in dalla coffee pots, in which the drink is put on the table. But coffee machines are almost never found here.

Restaurants in the UAE

Of course, travelers are always interested in the question of where to eat deliciously in the UAE and whether it is possible to try food in street establishments. If during your vacation you want delicious European dishes and your budget is not particularly limited, you can enjoy treats in excellent restaurants at the hotels. But traditional Arab dishes in the Emirates are better to try in local cafes and restaurants, which do not differ in particularly exquisite interiors, but will delight you with really authentic tastes. And in street “eateries” you don’t have to worry about the quality of food – it is always at its best here! Cleanliness and safety in such establishments is also very strictly monitored. Plus, street food in Dubai and other emirates is a great way to save money.

If you are planning a vacation in the UAE, we definitely recommend trying local dishes and making your own opinion about the cuisine of this country. Well, our managers will help to organize a trip, draw up the necessary documents and prepare an excursion program.