Under the stars: where to spend your Ramadan nights in Dubai

The large Ramadan tents, the most lavish spreads, entertainment galore make Ramadan special in Dubai

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Guaranteed Dubai has it all. The largest Ramadan tents, the most lavish spreads, entertainment galore and of course the biggest lifestyle brands to blend in with the glamor.

With desirability parked around every corner we introduce you to a few favorites you should try.

Every place has its charm, but regardless of what brand of fruit they are serving, the main concern will always be the food on the table.

Only the best wins. Al Majlis at Madinat Jumeirah and the Asateer tent at the Atlantis are super stars.

However, for the remaining days, where can one experience what’s different, other than those flashing on your social media windows.

The ongoing search for the best Kunafa, Um Ali, Cous Cous and even shisha brings us to the following.

Chef Rabah Samra, Specialty Chef (Arabic Cuisine at The Oberoi, Dubai and member of the Emirates Culinary Guild) will definitely bring you back for more. His set menu for this month plays with fusion and strong flavors even with Arabic mezzeh and zesty vine leaves. But the winner is Um Ali. And if you are a stranger to this dessert, trust that Chef Samra will make you fall in love with it.

You can start with their Iftar mezze including kibbeh, moutabel, baba ganoush, and zesty vine leaves (courtesy of the chef’s new inspired taste) and pamper your culinary senses with lamb Cous Cous and neatly sliced shawarma sandwiches. They also serve Kamar Al Deen, Jallab Lemon & Mint and Karkade in their exclusive Ramadan setting at nine7one courtyard.

In case you’re craving iced coffee, count on them to whip up the most satisfying glass you have had at a deluxe hotel property. They have also introduced new shisha flavors like chocolate and mint, café latte, cardamom and guava. So go ahead and treat yourself.

One word. Kunafa. Before we get into the grand scheme of things, let’s take a moment to appreciate the art and discovery of incredible kunafa nabulsiyya.

Amidst the beautiful setting in a temperature controlled atmosphere at the terrace, Sunken Garden is one the most relaxed affairs in the city.

With a very Arabesque setting, with water cascading down the walls, Sunken Garden helps you sink into tranquility. Just a little peace of mind when you need it most. Their kibbeh family serves chicken, meat and mushroom variety.

You can park yourself at their falafel waffle station and indulge in spinach fatayer with scrumptious cheese sambousak. But in case you’re on a spree to introduce yourself to an international palette try the mutton roganjosh, Priew Warn Pla (sweet and sour red snapper), butter chicken, koosa mahashi, dawood basha chicken biryani and an all time favorite okra stew. Iftar desserts also include ras malai, sweet warm kataif with nuts and cheese.

Al Nafoorah beats all the glamorous competition hands down with its simplistic design and Arab authenticity as opposed to flying over head chandeliers elsewhere, it’s focused on doing what it does best — food. And of course the exclusive setting at Emirates towers doesn’t hurt, nor does the fleet of high-end luxury cars parked at its doorstep. Imagine an ideal elusive setting that’s primitive, low key yet exclusive.

Even their hummus makes you wonder if all you have been having is the street/junk version. There’s a startling difference in taste and quality. Start with jat khodra, tabouleh, vine leaves, cheese rukak, mohammara, spinach fatayer and crispy meat sambousak. You can also enjoy their shawerma platter and indulge in kebab Orfaly (minced spicy lamb with onion) or kebab Halabi with parsley and onion. The mixed grill is a healthy assortment of lamb fillet cubes, minced lamb, chicken, beef sausages and shrimps.

Save space for dessert because you won’t be able to resist the warm sweet flavors of Um Ali and Ashta bil assal (fresh cream with honey). But given they have the best shisha in town, you’re bound to stay in longer than expected.

The perfect hideaway, this property makes it okay t to slip into a food coma. Even at JBR buzzing with Saudi tourists, Ritz Carlton makes you want to stay a little longer. With families or corporate Iftars that want to keep away from the hot outdoor spots with smoke and noise, this is where you need to be.

The restaurant specializes in Arabic cuisine but their Cous Cous station is the highlight. Served with chicken, vegetables, lamb, caramelized onion, raisin and cinnamon, right next to mandi, shawarma and ouzi station, the variety is exhausting. But don’t forget the Arabic coffee tiramisu. Mind blowing. Yes, for coffee lovers who paused for a minute to imagine that creation, this is the one! With a live Arabic Duo adding more to the traditional vibe of Ramadan, you can enjoy exclusive Arabic ice cream flavors like date and mastic.

Arabic beverages like Jalab, Tamer Hindi, Kamar Alden, Arkasos and Laban are available throughout the evening.

If you’re looking for a five-course meal that doesn’t resemble your everyday Iftar menu, try Hakkasan. As opposed to fine dining cuisine that serves distasteful sushi you have to pretend to like, Hakkasan brings in real Asian taste and flavor with its famous dumplings and rib eye steak. Their duck salad and fried hakka noodles and dumplings are a must have.

For their Iftar menu, you can start with soups, a dim sum basket then go on to a crispy silver cod in marmite sauce. Keep it light with the homemade sorbet or coconut lime sago.

But that’s not what I go there for. The hazelnut Jivara bomb is exactly the kind of dessert you go there for. An enchanting swirl of melted chocolate on the outer (rice crispies) shelter with crushed nuts and the magic ingredient (popping candy) adds power to this bomb. It stings your tongue just for a little bit before you go for that second electrifying bite.

This is for those who want a feast. Tribes at Mall of the Emirates welcomes you with dates, sambousak and Arabic drinks. You can then go on to choose a la carte. This feast isn’t for the faint hearted. This is for those who seek a feast after fast.

Get started with the hakuna matata platter. It’s got an assortment of delicious gravy soaked shrimps, African baked beef pie, fish cakes, grilled calamari, chicken giblets and pan-fried chili prawns to get you hyped up. Go ahead and try the tender cuts of South African meat (wagyu blade steak) or as the waitress suggested — the Moroccan lamb chops that were succulent yet dry, yet great for those watching their weight. The beef burger with lobster is a great choice and hits the spot with finely cut French fries on the side.

The Ox tail is a Tribes specialty, along with the impeccable service. It’s always a celebration with a caring selection of staff at the restaurant. Save the best for last, dive right into that chocolate malva pudding and crush your cravings.

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