Visiting Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan — this year’s 30 days of fasting run from May 5 to June 4 — is an excellent opportunity to see a different side of the modern metropolis. During this time of introspection, benevolence, prayer, kindness and charity, the city that otherwise feels like it’s constantly careening toward the next ambitious project, slows down and comes together.
The holiday’s evenings are marked by iftar, the meal after sunset when Muslims break their daily fast, often with dates and water before a feast of heartier fare. While, traditionally, it’s a time to be spent with family, Dubai’s cosmopolitan culture means that restaurants around town offer iftar buffets, serving local and international cuisine that both religious and secular families, friends and colleagues eat together.
Get a taste of the city’s customs with these impressive iftars at high-end hotels.
For a more contemporary iftar, head to The Bay, the brasserie-style restaurant at this newly opened waterfront retreat.
Boasting stellar sunset views through floor-to-ceiling windows, the dining room serves a bountiful buffet each evening with all the staples — hot and cold mezze, spiced meats and fresh salads, alongside eight live cooking stations and a selection of gourmet after-dinner delights.
Between bites, be sure to snap a memorable family photo among the 14 bronze metal trees lining the dramatic lobby.
Enjoy an authentic Lebanese iftar in the Ramadan tent of the poolside Khaymat Al Bahar at this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star stunner. Sip on Moroccan tea and listen to live oud (Middle Eastern lute) music as you make your way around the delicious spread that includes wholesome soups, salads and classic hot and cold mezze.
Look out for hearty Lebanese dishes such as lamb ouzi (braised lamb and spiced rice) and kofta bel seney (a layered dish of minced lamb, potato and tomato), and traditional desserts like konafa (fried, sweetened noodle-like pastry), umm ali (Egyptian bread pudding) and katayef (sweet dumplings).
For those who prefer international cuisine, peruse dishes such as pan-seared sea bream, barley risotto and Thai green curry as well.
Set in the spectacular Dubai Ballroom at this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat, iftar at the opulent Al Fanous Lounge seems like it’s right out of an Arabian fairytale.
Surrounded by colorful lights and ornate lamps with rich carpets laid out under your feet, you indulge in equally lavish fare that includes everything from lentil soup and stuffed grape leaves to sushi and antipasti. An array of multicultural mains —Peking duck, kebabs and pumpkin ravioli all grace the menu — is sure to satiate any craving.
The dessert station will have you spoiled for choice, too, ranging from local sweets such as baklava and camel milk rice pudding, to chocolate cake and apple cinnamon tarts.
Break your fast like Arabian royalty at this Four-Star beachfront stay when you indulge at the Fairuz Ramadan Tent. Adorned in rich turquoise, violet and white with shimmering Moroccan lamps, the dining room offers a grand and festive setting to enjoy traditional delicacies and live oud entertainment during the holy month.
Expect cooking stations, fresh-squeezed juices and a bountiful bar of sweets to complete the elegant scene.
Experience an abundant iftar at the luxuriously redesigned Ramadan Majlis at this contemporary Four-Star hotel in the heart of Dubai’s financial district.
Beneath a canopy of twinkling lights, you’ll find no less than 20 cooking stations serving creative twists on local favorites, like Arabian sushi, a hummus fountain, falafel waffles and an opulent seafood spread.
Tuck into traditional Turkish specialties, such as lamb ouzi or kebabs, before finishing up with a host of beloved desserts, all to the festive tune of nightly live entertainment.