Rare Emirati eatery in Dubai serves up national delights

Seven Sands is serving up some of the UAE’s most iconic dishes in a gourmet setting

Salma El Shahed
Salma El Shahed - Al Arabiya News
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A recently opened Dubai eatery is putting the Emirati kitchen on the map in a country that is host to dozens of world cuisines.

Located in the more tranquil part of The Beach mall by the Jumeirah Beach Residence, Seven Sands is serving up some of the UAE’s most iconic dishes in a gourmet setting fit to compete with the city’s best eateries.

Executive Chef Rabah Samra curated a menu that essentially acts as an introduction to Emirati cuisine, with lots of seasonal and local produce.

Dinner kicked off with fried golden pockets of pastry stuffed with minced shark meat served with the UAE’s version of sweet chili sauce.

Shark sambousa and Emirati Kibbeh. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)
Shark sambousa and Emirati Kibbeh. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)

The stuffing left a sharp note and paired well with the deep sauce, which also had a spice commonly used in Emirati cuisine, Bezar.

The appetizer round also featured a meatball similar to the Levantine Kibbeh but baked instead of fried and infused with Bezar, which we would later understand seems to be a unifying factor in Emirati cuisine.

Shark sambousa with sweet chilli sauce. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)
Shark sambousa with sweet chilli sauce. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)



Alongside a smoother version of the standard Hummus, the Hummus Bajela served as deconstructed and more complex version of the Middle Eastern favorite.

Aldente fava beans are served on top of chickpea puree and finished off with tahini – crushed sesame paste – lemon juice and walnuts. The textures in this appetizer make it an amplified experience to those looking for a more exciting version of Hummus.

For the main course, shark meat made a second appearance in the Seven Sands Jisheed.

The Jisheed: Minced shark meat on top of a bed of basmati rice. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)
The Jisheed: Minced shark meat on top of a bed of basmati rice. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)

Minced shark meat cooked in turmeric, bezar, and lime juxtaposed nicely with the bed of of aromatic basmati rice on which it was served. To the side of the neatly constructed cylinder of fish and rice, a rich tomato sauce unified the dish.

The main course also included the Emirati answer to Moussaka. Layers of pumpkin, eggplant, and other seasonal root vegetables in between a rich tomato sauce were sealed with a thick layer of cheese melted and sealed in an oven.

 The Emirati Moussaka, made of locally grown seasonal vegetables. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)
The Emirati Moussaka, made of locally grown seasonal vegetables. (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News)

The dish would safely serve as Emirati comfort food. The spices in the sauce pierced through the sweetness and deep flavor of the pumpkin.

Chef Samra, who confessed to being dominated by his sweet tooth, created a selection of desserts starring cardamom, saffron, and possibly my favorite vegetable: pumpkin.

Aseeda Bobar is a warm pumpkin celebration in the form of a puree infused with cardamom and saffron.

Seven Sands (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News) Emirati food
Seven Sands (Salma El Shahed/ Al Arabiya News) Emirati food



Alongside the Aseeda, was the Seven Sands Date Pudding in a presentation reminiscent of a chocolate fondant.

Crunchy fried vermicelli noodles, a warm, moist date cake, and a rich and playful toffee sauce were a decadent note to end what was a multi-layered dining experience.

Overlooking the Arab Gulf, Seven Sands, which makes sure to include produce from all seven emirates, reminded me of the flavors and smells I experienced visiting my Emirati friends growing up.

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