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Home / Features / A Look Back At Traditional Emirati Cuisine Available During This Year’s Dubai Food Festival That Foodies Can Enjoy All Year Around
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A Look Back At Traditional Emirati Cuisine Available During This Year’s Dubai Food Festival That Foodies Can Enjoy All Year Around

With Emirati heritage at the center of the city’s culinary scene, Dubai Food Festival (DFF) showcased some of the most-loved Emirati dishes that can be experienced by foodies 365 days a year.

From delving into historic corners of the city in famous souks to discover distinct traditional flavours to mainstream eateries influencing the city’s food trends – Emirati cuisine has defined Dubai’s culinary scene for decades and continues to be on the ‘must-visit’ list for visitors and residents alike.

Tik Tok star, Abdelaziz ( explains the importance of Emirati cuisine in the UAE “Emirati cuisine is considered part of the identity and heritage of the Emirates. It is central to communities and allows friends and family to come together to express generosity, especially during holidays and at special moments. Through the development of the UAE in the modern world, Emirati cuisine has become increasingly famous among tourists and visitors from across the globe who love it just as much as we do!”

Here’s some top recommendations from foodie professionals in the city:


Balaleet is a traditional sweet and savoury dish popular in the Emirates and a favourite for visitors alike. Ahmed Janahi, the food expert behind @So_foody explains, “Balaleet dish is a famous Emirati dish & it's my favorite. Every house has a different way to make it, and it comes in two colours depending on the way it is cooked. Balaleet is a blend of both sweet and salty elements. Prepared with vermicelli, and sweetened with rose water, cinnamon and saffron, it is served with a thin egg omelette on top. It is a common Emirati breakfast dish and can be garnished with some pistachios before serving.”

Try Balaleet out for yourself by visiting Arabian Tea House, at locations in the city including Al Fahidi, The Mall (Jumeirah) and Archeological Site in Jumeirah 2.


This mouthwatering dessert is not only so simple to make but reflects UAE culture with every bite. Luqaimat is sweet fried dumplings made of milk, sugar, butter, and flour and then covered in date syrup, a favourite among nationals, residents and visitors. Amal Ahmad, renowned Emirati influencer which can be found at @amal_ahmad_ tells us “I love Emirati food and the rich flavours, ingredients and spices which distinguish the taste of Emirati cuisine, including saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, lumi and others. Luqaimat is a dish loved by the masses, and one of the most famous varieties of Emirati desserts, characterized by sesame and date molasses.”

Serving up tasty traditional Luqaimat, visit Hum Yum at Jumeirah Road, Kite Beach, Nad Al Sheba and Al Marmoom to enjoy Luqaimat along with a delicious cup of Karak Chai.


Machboos is a pilaf like rice, mildly spiced and highly flavorful – where the rice is cooked in the spiced broth of the meat or chicken, melding the spices and ingredients. Rice is a staple in Emirati cuisine, and one of the favourite options to choose from is Machboos. Amal Ahmad @amal_ahmad_ continues to explain, “Machboos is a must try! Containing rice, meat, lime, spices, and onions, and cooked with chicken, meat or fish. It’s one of my all-time favourites!”

Head down to Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe at Dubai Festival City, Al Seef and in Al Barsha to enjoy traditional Machboos.


A popular dish in the UAE, especially during key times throughout the year such as a popular Iftar dish during Ramadan, it is a preferred choice for breaking fast because it is light on the stomach. Made with chicken, lamb or even vegetables, Thereed is a stew with large pieces of potatoes. It’s best enjoyed with rice or even with bread such as Raqaq bread.

Visit Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to enjoy authentic Thereed alongside other cultural dishes.

Here’s a list of where you can try some of the best Emirati cuisine in the city:



Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe

Dubai Festival City + Al Seef + Al Barsha

Arabian Tea House

Al Fahidi + The Mall (Jumeirah) + Archeological Site

Hum Yum

Jumeirah Road, Kite Beach, Nad Al Sheba, Al Marmoom


Box Park + The Dubai Mall + Mirdif City Center

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Al Fahidi


Souk Al Bahar


The Dubai Mall


Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek

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