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Dubai’s allure lies not only in its towering skyscrapers and opulent lifestyle but also in its rich culinary heritage. Amidst the international culinary scene, the traditional Emirati foods remain a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

The famous foods of Dubai unveil a tapestry of flavors deeply woven into the Emirati culture and history. In this blog, we’ll discuss an immersive culinary adventure, tracing the evolution of Emirati foods, exploring their influences, and discovering the top Emirati dishes to try in Dubai, along with the best places to relish them.

A Brief History

An Emirati cuisine is a reflection of the region’s history, geography, and traditions. It emerged from the heart of the desert, where ingredients like dates, camel milk, fish, and locally sourced spices were staples.

This desert culture was enriched by the Persian, Indian, and African influences that arrived through trade routes. Persian saffron, Indian spices, and African flavors intermingled with local ingredients, creating a culinary legacy that resonates with authenticity and depth.

Emirati cuisine stands as a testament to the influence of neighboring cultures and trade partners. The flavors brought by traders from Persia and India transformed basic dishes into fragrant and aromatic delights.

The Arabian Gulf’s bounty introduced seafood in Dubai as a cornerstone of Emirati cooking, adding a maritime dimension to the cuisine. While embracing these influences, Emirati foods retain their identity through a harmonious blend of global flavors in top restaurants in Dubai.

Best Emirati Foods to Try in Dubai

Al Harees

Al Harees is a traditional Emirati dish in Dubai  that holds a special place during the holy month of Ramadan. It’s a slow-cooked combination of meat, usually chicken or lamb, and wheat.

The ingredients are gently simmered together for several hours until they meld into a thick and creamy consistency. This dish requires careful monitoring and continuous stirring to achieve its desired texture. The flavors of the meat and wheat infuse together, resulting in a wholesome and comforting dish that provides nourishment after a day of fasting.

Al Harees is often seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices, which adds depth to its taste. The slow-cooking process allows the flavors to intensify and the ingredients to become tender. It’s a symbol of togetherness and is often shared among families and friends during Ramadan.

Beryani (Biryani)

Biryani, a variation of the popular biryani dish, is a fragrant rice dish that’s often enjoyed during festive occasions and special celebrations. Marinated meat, such as chicken or lamb, is layered with long-grain rice and cooked together with a medley of aromatic spices. The dish is cooked in such a way that the flavors of the meat and spices infuse the rice, creating a symphony of tastes and aromas. Explore our extensive list of biryani places in Abu Dhabi for a traditional taste of this dish in UAE.


Khabeesa is a traditional dessert made from simple ingredients like flour, butter, and saffron. The ingredients are cooked together to create a pudding-like consistency.

In Dubai, it’s a sweet and comforting dessert that reflects the Emirati penchant for creating delicious treats from basic pantry items.



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Mutabbaq is a flaky pastry that encapsulates a variety of fillings, such as meat, vegetables, or spices. The dough is thin and delicate, and it’s filled with the chosen ingredients before being folded over and sealed. 

The pastry is then typically fried until it’s crisp and golden on the outside. The fillings can vary widely, allowing for a diverse range of flavors. Mutabbaq is often enjoyed as a snack or appetizer and can be found in markets, cafes, and homes across Dubai. You can get Al Manousha from one of the best pastries shops in Dubai.


Falafel holds a special place within the Emirati food culture, particularly in Dubai. While originating from the Middle East, falafel has seamlessly integrated itself into the local gastronomic scene.

Crispy on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside, falafel is a delectable combination of ground chickpeas or fava beans, mixed with a medley of aromatic herbs and spices.

Falafel is especially popular in Dubai as people love to eat Arabic restaurants in the city. In Dubai, where diverse cultures converge, falafel embodies the spirit of unity through its widespread popularity, reminding both locals and visitors of the Emirati embrace of global flavors.

Al Machboos

Al Machboos is a flavorful and fragrant rice dish prepared with a combination of tender meat, such as chicken or lamb, and an array of aromatic spices. The dish gets its rich color from the spices used, including turmeric, saffron, and other local seasonings Emirati foods.

Related Article: Top Arabian Restaurants in Dubai



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Salona is a seafood stew that captures the essence of the sea with a burst of flavors. It’s a dish that showcases the diverse seafood available in the region. The stew is made with a variety of seafood, such as fish, shrimp, and sometimes even crab. The seafood is simmered in a flavorful broth along with vegetables and a blend of spices. Salona is one of the delicious seafood dishes to try in Dubai, and a celebration of the sea’s bounty and is often enjoyed on special occasions.


Shawarma stands as one of the Emirati culinary delights in the vibrant gastronomic landscape of Dubai. Originating from Lebanese roots, this food has seamlessly integrated itself into the hearts and palates of locals and visitors alike. 

With its tantalizing aroma wafting through bustling streets and its sizzling sounds echoing from food stalls, shawarma encapsulates the essence of Dubai’s multicultural essence.

With the warm Arabic bread, the meat is complemented by an array of accompaniments, including fresh vegetables, tahini, and aromatic spices. If you’re in Dubai, it is suggested to get original shawarma from one of the famous Lebanese restaurants in Dubai.

This amalgamation of flavors and textures creates a mouthwatering experience that captures the true essence of Dubai’s vibrant culinary scene, showcasing how a Lebanese import can become an integral part of Emirati culture and cuisine.


Manakish is a hearty breakfast option that consists of flatbread topped with either cheese or honey. The dough used for the flatbread is typically thin and crispy when cooked, providing a perfect base for the toppings.
If topped with cheese, the dish offers a savory and slightly salty flavor profile. On the other hand, if drizzled with honey, it transforms into a sweet and satisfying morning treat.

Related Article: Top Asian Restaurants in Dubai



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Luqaimat are small, deep-fried dumplings that offer a delightful contrast between sweet and savory. These bite-sized treats are a popular choice during festive occasions and celebrations. They are made from a dough that’s enriched with ingredients like flour, sugar, and yogurt.

Once fried to a golden-brown hue, they’re drizzled with date syrup or honey, giving them a sticky sweetness that beautifully complements the slightly crispy exterior.


Balaleet is a unique dish that combines sweet and savory elements to create a harmonious flavor profile. It starts with saffron-flavored vermicelli, which is sweetened and often enhanced with cardamom or other aromatic spices.

This sweet vermicelli is then topped with a savory omelette, creating an intriguing contrast between the delicate sweetness of the noodles and the rich, egg-based omelette. The balance of flavors and textures makes Balaleet a popular choice for breakfast or as a special treat during celebrations in Dubai.


Chabab can be described as the Emirati rendition of pancakes. While its name derives from its pancake-like appearance, its flavor is reminiscent of bread, rendering it a cherished breakfast delight in Dubai’s culinary scene.

The batter is generously enriched with an array of spices, prominently featuring cardamom and turmeric, as well as yeast. It is relished in conjunction with Chami cheese or date syrup.

Esh Asaraya

Esh Asaraya is a luscious dessert that presents layers of flavor and texture. This indulgent dish features layers of soft bread soaked in cream, often flavored with saffron for an exquisite aroma and golden hue.

The dish is then topped with more cream and sometimes garnished with chopped nuts, adding a pleasant crunch. Esh Asaraya offers a balance of sweetness and creaminess. In Dubai it makes a delightful conclusion to a meal.



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Rgaag is a thin, crepe-like bread that forms a versatile base for various toppings. This unleavened bread is popularly enjoyed with a range of accompaniments, including cheese, honey, or eggs. The bread itself is made from simple ingredients like flour, water, and a pinch of salt.

It’s cooked on a griddle until it becomes lightly browned and slightly crispy. The choice of toppings allows for a mix of sweet and savory flavors, making Rgaag a flexible option for different preferences.



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The majority of Dubai’s traditional cuisine showcases various meat-based dishes, yet there exist notable vegetarian options too. So, if you’re a vegetarian, there’s no need for concern!

One of the prominent vegetarian offerings is Tabbouleh, a cherished dish. It comprises a salad crafted from tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, and green onions, all expertly flavored with zesty lemon juice, refreshing mint, and sweet pepper. While its origins trace back to Lebanon, Tabbouleh has found widespread popularity in the UAE’s culinary landscape.you can get Tabbouleh from the best vegetarian restaurants in Dubai as well as UAE.



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Thareed is a comforting and hearty dish that combines vegetables, meat, and flatbread soaked in a flavorful broth. The dish is somewhat similar to a stew, but the addition of torn pieces of flatbread gives it a unique texture and depth.

The bread soaks up the delicious broth, making each bite a harmonious blend of flavors. Thareed is a cherished dish, often enjoyed with family and friends during gatherings.



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Madrooba is a unique food in Dubai that involves cooking fish or chicken with spices until tender and then blending it into a creamy consistency. The dish is known for its smooth texture and rich flavors. It’s a testament to the Emirati foods and art of transforming simple ingredients into dishes that are both comforting and delicious.

Related Article: Top Restaurants in Dubai

Al Khameer

Al Khameer is a soft and fluffy bread that’s a staple in Emirati cuisine. It’s often enjoyed as a breakfast option or as a snack. The bread’s soft texture makes it an ideal accompaniment to various toppings, including cheese, dates, or honey. It’s a versatile base that enhances the flavors of whatever it’s paired with.

Samboosa (Samosa)


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Samboosa, also known as samosa, is a beloved snack found throughout the Middle East, including the UAE. These triangular pastries are made from thin, crispy dough that’s filled with a variety of ingredients. The fillings can include minced meat (such as chicken, beef, or lamb), vegetables, or lentils, often flavored with an array of spices like cumin, coriander, and chili. Once filled, the samboosas are deep-fried until they achieve a golden-brown hue. These savory pastries are a popular street food and party snack, enjoyed by people of all ages.

Harees Kharoof


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Harees Kharoof is a festive dish that combines the heartiness of meat, the wholesomeness of wheat, and the rich blend of spices. It’s particularly enjoyed during special occasions and gatherings. The dish involves cooking tender meat, typically lamb, along with wheat, resulting in a porridge-like consistency.

The slow-cooking process allows the flavors to meld, and the spices infuse the dish with a delightful aroma. Harees Kharoof reflects the Emirati tradition of celebrating moments with dishes that bring people together over a shared meal.

Related Article: Birthday Celebration in Dubai



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Saweyah is a dessert made from vermicelli noodles that are cooked in a fragrant mixture of rosewater and saffron. The result is a delicately sweet dessert with a pleasing aroma. It’s a dessert that showcases the use of aromatic ingredients in Emirati cuisine.

Top Best Emirati Restaurants in Dubai

For those seeking to savor the delectable offerings of traditional Emirati cuisine in Dubai, a range of exceptional restaurants awaits. While the list provided is by no means exhaustive, it’s a fantastic starting point for your culinary journey:

  • Arabian Tea House

With multiple locations across Dubai, Arabian Tea House stands as a haven of authenticity. The atmosphere is adorned with traditional decor, and the outdoor seating offers a delightful space to relish everything from breakfast and appetizers to main dishes and desserts, all honoring Emirati culinary traditions.

Address: Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, Bastakiya

Opening Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 2 AM

  • Al Fanar Restaurant

Transporting you to 1960s Dubai, Al Fanar Restaurant not only brings forth traditional Emirati flavors but also captures the essence of that era’s ambiance. Their extensive seafood menu, along with classic and contemporary Emirati dishes, creates a compelling dining experience.

Address (Most Popular): Al Seef Street, Al Hamriya

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 AM to 11 PM

  • Al Iwan

Located within the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, Al Iwan offers a sumptuous Arabic buffet featuring an array of local delicacies such as Tabbouleh, Chicken Shawarma, and Baba Ganoush.

Address: Burj Al Arab

Opening Hours: Daily from 7 PM to 12 AM

  • Asil Restaurant

Asil Restaurant artfully blends flavors from Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, and the Emirati traditions in a space adorned with genuine Arabian decor.

Address: Rixos Premium Dubai (JBR)

Opening Hours: Daily from 1 PM to 2 AM

  • Al Hkayma Heritage Restaurant

Steeped in tradition, Al Hkayma Heritage Restaurant envelops guests in an authentic experience. Arabic melodies fill the air as you indulge in an array of dishes ranging from traditional coffee and Chabab (pancakes) to seafood specialties and the delightful balance of sweet and savory in Balaleet.

Address: Al Fahidi Historical District Building 54 & 55

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 AM to 11 PM

Related Article: Chinese Restaurants in Dubai


Exploring these Emirati foods in Dubai can be a captivating journey into the culinary traditions and cultural richness of the region. Each dish reflects the Emirati people’s deep connection to their heritage and the art of crafting flavors that bring joy to the palate.


What are some must-try Emirati dishes in Dubai?
Some must-try Emirati dishes include Al Harees (slow-cooked wheat and meat), Al Machboos (spiced rice with meat or seafood), Luqaimat (sweet dumplings), and Chabab.

Is Emirati cuisine spicy?

Emirati cuisine is not typically known for being extremely spicy. It often features a balanced use of spices like saffron, cardamom, and turmeric, which enhance flavors without overwhelming heat.

What is the significance of dates in Emirati cuisine?

Dates are a staple in Emirati cuisine due to their historical importance and availability in the region. They are often served as a snack, dessert, or alongside traditional coffee.

Can I find vegetarian options in Emirati cuisine?

Yes, there are vegetarian options in Emirati cuisine. Dishes like Tabbouleh (a salad), Fattoush (mixed vegetable salad), and Majboos Vegetables (spiced rice with vegetables) cater to vegetarians.

What is the traditional way of drinking Arabic coffee?

Arabic coffee, also known as Gahwa, is a symbol of hospitality. It’s served in small cups with no handles. Guests are offered three cups, and it’s customary to accept at least one cup to show appreciation.

What is the role of spices in Emirati cuisine?

Spices play a significant role in Emirati cuisine by adding depth and complexity to flavors. Common spices include saffron, cardamom, turmeric, and cumin, which are used in both sweet and savory dishes.

What are the key ingredients in traditional Emirati sweets?

Traditional Emirati sweets often feature ingredients like dates, rosewater, saffron, nuts, and honey. These ingredients lend a unique flavor profile to desserts like Luqaimat and Esh Asaraya.

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