Living in the Middle East / United Arab Emirates

Food and Drink

Date Posted: February 17, 2016      

There is every type of cuisine available in the UAE, from traditional Arabic dishes to exotic international specialties. Cheap, roadside cafes offer shwarmas (lamb or chicken kebabs), food courts within shopping malls have a wide selection of fast food outlets, while every hotel will have many high-end dining options.

Traditional Emirati cuisine is based around the flavors of saffron, cardamom, turmeric and thyme, and seafood has been a mainstay of the Emirati diet for centuries. Hammour is a white meat fish, similar to cod, that is plentiful off the UAE coastline, and is a popular inclusion on menus.

With regards to shopping, there are numerous supermarkets with internationally recognized brands such as Waitrose, Carrefour, Geant and Spinneys, which stock a huge variety of international products. However, food shopping in the UAE does tend to be more expensive than you may be used to in your home country as most items are imported. It is also possible to get all your grocery shopping delivered to your home using online services.

While pork and alcohol are considered ‘haram’ to Muslims, both are available in the UAE. Menus featuring pork will clearly state it and supermarkets have separate pork sections that only non-Muslims can enter.

Alcohol is only available at hotels or special stores that require an alcohol license to make a purchase. To obtain this license you need to show your tenancy agreement and a salary letter and a no objection letter from your employer.