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A woman and dog posing by the wall

Your Eid Al-Fitr Agenda Is Here

And it won’t break the bank.

Gone are the days when we would take a flight of fancy every long weekend to visit one of the many amazing destinations around the world. To combat major FOMO (yes, we’ve caught ourselves browsing past vacay photos), we’ve found some fun and budget-friendly things to do around Dubai this Eid.

Puppy Love

Voted one of the most Instagrammable cafés in the world, Tania’s Teahouse is a cosy two-storey haunt where every nook and cranny is covered in quirky art and hilarious quotes. And the food is as fun as it is healthy. Unicorn toast – need we say more? Now, your four-legged friend can enjoy the café as well! There are doggie water bowls for your furry BFF to stay hydrated while you sip on bubble tea (our favourite) and enjoy the last of Dubai’s perfect weather.

Tania’s Teahouse, 779A Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim 2, 9am – 5pm, 04 324 0021, @taniasteahouse

Safe and Sparkly

From 9pm every night for the three days of Eid, Yas Island will be painting the sky of the capital with a stunning array of fireworks! Whilst in-person spectating won’t be permitted, you don’t have to miss out – simply livestream the whole show on Yas Island’s Instagram page. It’s like your very own personal socially distanced fireworks show. If you live in Abu Dhabi, why not head to one of many al fresco restaurants at Yas Island and experience the fireworks IRL?

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 9pm, All three days of Eid, @yasisland 

Ready, Set, Drink

The best cocktails in the city? Check. Sunset cocktails? Check. Beach views? Check. MASTI at La Mer knows beverages. Don’t believe us? It has the largest gin collection in Dubai to prove it! Every Sunday to Thursday from 4:30pm – 7pm, enjoy MASTI Hour, which the contemporary Indian restaurant refers to as a “no bull” happy hour. There’s ‘Buy 1, Get 1 Free’ on all drinks (yes, cocktails included), so bring a friend and don’t fret when the bill arrives. We recommend asking for Jeet, the head bartender – his mixology skills will have you questioning everything you ever knew about cocktails!

MASTI, La Mer South, Happy Hour 4:30pm – 7pm, 800 MASTI, @mastidubai

Let the Games Begin

Looking for some late-night fun of the wholesome variety? We are loving this little hidden gem located in the Greens, Hive Board Game Café. From new age-y games to family favourites including Monopoly and Guess Who, the board game haven has it all alongside a fuss-free menu of sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and freakshakes. There’s also a “game master” to help you out and ensure there’s no cheating involved – trust us, it will stop the fights! The best part? It’s super affordable to hang out and play: AED 15 for an hour, AED 25 for two hours, and AED 35 for unlimited time.

Hive Board Game, Onyx Tower The Greens, 04 323 2113, Sundays to Wednesdays, noon-midnight, Thursdays and Fridays, noon-2am, @hiveboardgamecafe 

FOMO No More

You may have seen the newly opened Yava restaurant on your Instagram feed, serving some of the most mouthwatering dishes – but it’s the interiors we’re obsessed with! Between the neutral hues, dried flowers, earthy vases, and everything that screams the Mediterranean, this restaurant is a worth a visit if your wanderlust is through the roof. 

Yava Restaurant, Wasl 51, 9am-1am, 04 548 5733, @yavadubai

But First, Coffee

Take a trip down memory lane to Old Dubai, courtesy of The Coffee Museum. With the end of Ramadan, we can now enjoy a much-needed cup of joe in the morning, and what better way to celebrate than learning all about coffee and the rich history it has in Arabic culture. It, of course, serves coffee and sells roasted beans, too – and not the Starbucks variety. We’re talking about fragrant, rich coffee that will have you hooked after just one sip! We’ll take two, thank you.

The Coffee Museum, Al Fahidi District, 9-5pm (not open Fridays), 04 353 8777, @coffeemuseum 

New and Now

Call us biased, but we think Dubai has some of the best breakfast offerings in the world, so when homegrown café One Life Kitchen launched an all-new breakfast menu, our Eid plans were set. The new dishes include French toast, stacked pancakes, pulled beef benedict, homemade banana bread, and many more dishes that will have you in a food coma quicker than you can say “cheat day!”

One Life Kitchen, d3, 8am – 6pm, 04 513 4727 @onelifekitchen 

The Great Escape

Take advantage of the cooler weather (well, cool for Dubai) before summer strikes, and take a trip to the great outdoors! Whether you have the hots for hiking or want to go one step further in your adventure and head to water pools, Ras Al Khaimah is where it’s at. Homegrown hiking company Adventurati Outdoor will take you and a group of fellow explorers to some of the UAE’s ultimate hidden gems.

You’ll be supplied with a helmet, life jacket, and food as you climb up mountains and down into the wet terrain. It’s a full day of adventure and perfect for anyone with medium fitness levels (if you can do a HITT or spin class, you will rock this challenge). Book fast as spots fill up on this unmissable adventure!

Adventurati Outdoor, @adventuratioutdoor

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5 Hidden Gems Worth Exploring This Summer

Bonus: they’re all family-friendly.

Summer’s here, and schools will be closed before you know it, resulting in that all-too-familiar feeling of restlessness. But jetting off to a foreign destination isn’t always an option, which is why we’ve scoured the city of Dubai for a handful of hidden gems, each of which caters to all ages. Win-win.

1. Courtyard Playhouse

For those who think Dubai lacks culture, listen up. Independent theatre Courtyard Playhouse, located in Al Quoz, is where it all happens – acting classes, improv workshops, theatrical productions by amateur theatre groups, and more. Culture vultures will love National Theatre Live, an initiative by National Theatre to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas around the world. 

And as Courtyard Playhouse is a partner venue, past screenings have included the likes of Fleabag, Hamlet, and Hedda Gabler. The ultimate family-friendly offering, meanwhile, are the highly interactive Improvised Kids’ Storytime sessions held every Saturday. They’re especially popular amongst families as children aged 4-11 can get in on the action, volunteering on stage or directing the actions of the actors, resulting in a wonderfully whimsical afternoon every time.

Visit www.courtyardplayhouse.com for more information.

2. TheJamJar

It’s no secret that art is easily one of the best ways to express oneself – or just a great way to while away the hours during summer. Enter: thejamjar, a community arts space rooted in supporting the development of Dubai’s arts scene through educational initiatives, community projects, and more. Tucked away in Alserkal Avenue, the studio hosts everything from guided DIY sessions to classes that cover drawing techniques and even workshops on connecting with your deeper self through art. 

Young ones, meanwhile, are welcome to attend the bi-weekly Jam Time sessions where anyone over the age of four can paint for two hours together and take home the artworks. And if your kids are even younger? Opt for Toddlers Artsploration, which serve as bonding sessions between toddlers (ages 1-3) and their guardians while helping them develop their motor skills.

Visit www.thejamjardubai.com for more information.

3. History of Cinema Museum

To walk into the intimately sized History of Cinema Museum is to step into a world of mechanical wonders. A hidden gem in every sense of the word, it’s open by appointment only and discreetly located in Barsha Heights, chronicling the progression of visual entertainment from its inception to the advent of early cinema through a collection of over 300 antiques. 

The magic of the moving image comes to life through interactive exhibits that take visitors on a journey through time and technology – they can peep into an 18th century peep box or turn the reel of an early 20th century mutoscope to see the flicker effect. As for the rarest piece? A toy magic lantern with a 1001 Arabian Nights theme from Germany circa 1860. A guided tour, for obvious reasons, comes highly recommended.

Visit www.hocmuseum.com for more information.

4. Mirzam

Artisan chocolatier Mirzam offers so much more than its beautifully wrapped creations. Workshops and tours are also offered at its facility, so there’s always something to look forward to – like the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop, for example. This one’s a must for anyone who loves chocolate and coffee as it takes attendees on a sensory journey expertly pairing signature single-origin chocolates from its Maps collection with single drip V60 coffee from El Salvador, Brazil, and Ethiopia. 

And if restless kids are in the picture, we suggest booking the Chocolate Factory Tour & Custom Wrapper Making Workshop instead. Fun for all ages, the workshop allows participants to design their own wrappers, which they can then use to wrap their custom chocolate bar, followed by a  tour of Mirzam’s chocolate-making process.

Visit www.mirzam.com for more information.

5. Mazmi Café

While there is no shortage of memorable sunset spots across Dubai, Mazmi Café gets our vote for its backstory and location. Owned by an Italian woman and her Emirati husband, this seriously underrated destination is located in Old Dubai and serves up an honest snapshot of the city – especially as Textile Souk, Shiva Temple, and Grand Mosque are all in the vicinity. 

But it’s the must-try homemade gelato (flavours include stracciatella, saffron, and pistachio) that makes it popular with kids and adults alike. And because it sits at the edge of Dubai Creek, Mazmi is not only frequented by residents in need of a change of pace, but it also translates to endless photography opportunities. Incidentally, Mazmi also houses a three-room B&B, where Afghan fabrics, black-and-white photographs depicting fishing scenes, and coffee table books dominate the soothing aesthetic. 

Visit www.mazmi.me for more information.

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Packing Lists Hacks

Pack Happy: Your Summer Holiday Starts Here

A checklist for every vacation type.

Every day brings with it a hit of dopamine as more countries lift travel restrictions, whetting our appetites for adventure and kicking our summer plans into high gear. But exploring a new destination starts with one rather tedious aspect: making a packing list. Here, we do the legwork, putting together a list of tips and hacks by holiday type.

Beach

Packing Lists Hacks

You’re in dire need of some vitamin sea. We hear you. But whether you’re headed to Boracay, Bora Bora, or Zanzibar in search of palm-fringed beaches and crystalline waters, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • You’ll need a beach bag, so use yours as a carry-on baggage
  • Reef-safe sunscreen 
  • A kindle packed with beach reads (why lug books around?)
  • Two to three pieces of swimwear
  • One or two cover-ups to take you from the beach to dinner
  • A light sweater for chilly evenings
  • Polarised sunglasses
  • A wide-brim sun hat
  • SPF lip balm
  • Flip-flops and a pair of dressy sandals
  • Wet wipes aplenty 
  • An after-sun hair product, like the multitasking Solar Sun Oil by System Professional

City

Summer Holiday Starts Here

City breaks bring with them a bit of everything – food, culture, art, history, and adventure, all in a matter of days. But first? A few packing reminders rooted in comfort and practicality.

  • A lightweight rain jacket
  • A handful of statement accessories
  • Comfortable sneakers
  • Light layers to dress according to weather changes
  • An anti-theft backpack
  • A power bank or portable charger
  • A travel document holder
  • Dresses – they’re light to pack and can be dressed up or down
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A lightweight travel camera
  • A portable WiFi device
  • Packing cubes

Cruise

Packing Lists and Hacks by Holiday Type

Taking a cruise is a great way to explore several new destinations without long layovers and having to pack and unpack multiple times. Bonus: someone else is responsible for all the planning.

  • Seasickness bands/patches
  • Eveningwear in case dinner comes with a dress code
  • A hanging toiletry bag with clear pockets
  • A backpack or beach bag
  • A travel-size wrinkle-release spray 
  • Necessary medication and a copy of your prescriptions
  • An international travel adapter
  • Destination-appropriate outerwear
  • A waterproof phone case
  • Activated charcoal tablets in case of food poisoning
  • Specialised attire for themed nights
  • Oh, and steer clear of the pineapple motif – it’s code for wife-swapping!

Safari

Going on safari is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the memories you’ll make while wildlife-spotting are priceless. As for what you’ll need in the midst of a sprawling savanna? Read on.

  • Insect repellent
  • A wide-brim safari hat
  • Moisture-wicking clothing in neutral hues
  • Local currency for tipping and snacks
  • A lightweight scarf
  • Lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirts to prevent scrapes and mosquito bites
  • A utility jacket
  • Sturdy closed-toe shoes
  • A multitasking antiseptic, like Sudocrem
  • Proof of inoculations
  • Soft-shell luggage (hard-shell suitcases are banned on the small planes flying into the parks)
  • A sizable dry bag to protect your belongings from rain and mud

Skiing

 packing lists and hacks

Between the surge of adrenaline during the day and the après-ski traditions that follow, escaping the summer heatwave for powdery pistes is a no-brainer. Just be sure to follow these packing tips.

  • Resist the temptation to buy pricy ski equipment – rent instead
  • 1 to 3 waterproof ski jackets and pants
  • Thermal base layers and fleece layers
  • A non-cotton balaclava or ski mask
  • Goggles, ideally with changeable lenses for sunshine and low visibility
  • Bring your own ski boots, and roll up small clothing items inside them
  • Sunscreen and lip balm, both high in SPF
  • A daypack to carry all your essentials on the slopes
  • Windproof and waterproof gloves
  • Thick, moisture-wicking socks
  • An insulated flask for hot liquids
  • Disposable hand and foot warmers
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Travel Guide to Zanzibar

Spice Makes Nice on This African Archipelago

Your trip to Zanzibar starts here.

Sun-drenched shores, picturesque sunsets, and palm-fringed beaches blend seamlessly with chaos of the best kind – meet Zanzibar, an archipelago of four major and several small islands with charisma to spare. Located 35km off the Tanzanian coast, Unguja (more commonly known as Zanzibar) is the largest and most populated of these islands. And to say Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience is an understatement. 

Ride aboard a traditional sailing dhow, stop to admire weathered doors with intricate carvings, and explore the heady scents of the many spices that have earned Zanzibar its nickname, ‘Spice Island’. Here, diversity reigns supreme. The Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Omanis, and Shirazis have all been here, some settling down and marrying into local families – thus turning Zanzibar’s modern-day residents into true symbols of its colourful heritage.

Travel Guide to Zanzibar Island

Living History

Any trip to Zanzibar should be anchored in exploring Stone Town, its historical capital and the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Located on the island’s central-west coast, its cobbled streets and crumbling 19th century architecture make it easy to see why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. While you could simply stroll around its bathhouses, craft centres, mosques, and colourful backstreet markets at your own pace, a guided tour comes highly recommended for true insights into this traditional society – and tidbits that you would undoubtedly miss on your own. For example, Zanzibar’s iconic doorways are not only functioning works of art, but they’re also storytellers, revealing the origin, occupation, religious beliefs, and social status of their original owners.

The town has changed little during the past 200 years, and boasts a multitude of important architectural highlights. History buffs should start at the imposing Palace Museum. Once the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it was renamed the Peoples’ Palace following the revolution in 1964 and turned into a museum in 1994. Another defining feature is the Old Fort, the first defensive structure erected by the Omani Arabs when they seized the island from the Portuguese in 1698. The structure once performed double duty as both a prison and place of execution. These days, its restored rooms house offices for the Cultural Arts Centre Zanzibar, while the open-air amphitheatre provides a dramatic screening venue for the Zanzibar International Film Festival. On the lookout for authentic souvenirs? Be sure to make a pitstop at the Cultural Arts Gallery – which is housed within the fort – to watch local artists in action and purchase their works.

Trip to Zanzibar

The most attractive landmark in the cultural heart of the island, however, is the Old Dispensary. This late 19th century building was commissioned by prominent Indian merchant Tharia Topan, and has been successfully restored after falling into disrepair in the 1970s, so a visit to admire its peppermint-green latticework balconies is a must-do. But no trip is complete without exploring Zanzibar’s beleaguered past, as the island remained a hub of slave trade in East Africa for several centuries. Christ Church is built on the site of the world’s last open slave market, its altar marking the spot where slaves for sale were lashed. While you’re here, be sure to walk over to the poignant slave memorial outside that depicts five slaves standing in a pit wearing original neck collars and chains, their haunting expressions serving as a grim reminder of a not-so-distant past.

Food Matters

An evening spent at the waterside Forodhani Gardens comes highly recommended. Here awaits a carnivalesque atmosphere, courtesy of the al fresco food market that comes alive every night. This is the place to sample everything from crab claws and calamari steaks to the hearty Urojo soup, hand-pressed sugar cane juice, and Zanzibar’s take on pizza – all on a budget, too. Celebrating a special occasion or in the mood to splurge? Head to Tea House Restaurant at Emerson on Hurumzi hotel. Pairing authentic Swahili cuisine with expertly made cocktails, it’s the magical setting of this restaurant that you’ll long remember – think: vibrant floor cushions, dimly lit lanterns, live taarab music, and views over the motley roofs of Stone Town. Just be sure to book ahead and get there in time for sunset.

What Lies Beyond

At least one day trip outside of Stone Town is needed for a change of pace and, considering Zanzibar is blessed with several offshore islands, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Prison Island, originally used by the Arabs to detain insubordinate slaves, is only a 30-minute boat ride away. You can sunbathe or simply gaze at the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean on its powdery-white beach, or snorkel as it is also fringed with a beautiful coral reef. Prison Island is also home to a family of giant tortoises – some of which are over 100 years old – that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century.

Trip to Zanzibar Island

Another jaunt not to be missed is the Princess Salme & The Spices tour operated by Zanzibar Different. Because many of the islands produce nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it incorporates a guided tour through a spice plantation as well as tracing the footsteps of Zanzibar’s rebel princess by way of Mtoni Palace ruins, Persian baths, and a coffee ceremony amidst spice plantations. The company also runs Mrembo Spa, where employment is offered to blind and deaf therapists with a deft touch. The menu here spans everything from henna application to aromatherapy massages, but for a treatment rooted in tradition? Opt for the Singo Scrub that Swahili women undergo before their wedding day and is made using the likes of ylang ylang, sandalwood powder, rose petals, and rosewater – any excuse for a little R&R after navigating Stone Town’s labyrinth of alleys.

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Bahrain Sea View

This Isn’t Your Typical Island Getaway

Is Bahrain on your bucket list yet?

A five-day Eid break is headed our way, but not everyone is keen on the idea of long-haul travel. And that’s understandable. Still looking to explore a new destination and satiate your wanderlust? One word: Bahrain.

Not only is it the only archipelago in the region, but it’s only a mere 70-minute flight away. And between its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, trendy eateries, old-school souks, cultural institutions, and endless island-hopping opportunities, it’s also seriously underrated – especially if a quick getaway is all you can manage.

Sleeping In

By now, many of the major luxury hotel groups have landed in Bahrain – Sofitel, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton included. But we’re slightly biased towards boutique hotels, preferring to stay at properties that have an entirely distinct personality of their own. Enter: The Merchant House, an ultra-contemporary property that boasts 46 beautifully appointed suites, a lush rooftop terrace, a library curated by The Ultimate Library of Oxford, and an eclectic collection of artworks by emerging and established artists. Another plus? Location, location, location. The Merchant House is ideally placed in the always-vibrant Bab Al Bahrain area.

Stepping Out

Speaking of which: a stroll through Manama Souq is part retail therapy, part cultural experience, so skip the malls and head here instead. The main entrance is the historic Bab Al Bahrain, taking you back in time as you browse shops specialising in everything from jewellery and antiques to calligraphy, handpainted room dividers, embroidered poufs, perfumes, and more. It’s not just kitschy souvenirs, we promise. Oh, and keep an eye out for the art installation inspired by the traditional Bahraini necklace ‘martasha’ while you’re around. Strategically located at the entrance of Manama Souq, it is composed of 20,000 gold-plated coins that are attached to seven-metre strings suspended from the ceiling. 

All that walking around will leave you famished, and no trip to Manama Souq is complete without pausing at Haji’s Cafe, where time has essentially stood still 1950. Sitting on those bright-blue benches surrounded by vintage photos and platters of delicious food in a narrow alley is such an unadulterated joy. Bahrain’s tolerance of all faiths is well-documented, so try to visit the Shri Krishna Temple, even if it’s tricky to find at first. Not only was it built in 1817 – making it a whopping 204 years old – but it has also recently been renovated and decorated in the traditional Mewar style of art that originates in Rajasthan. 

Take a couple of moments to appreciate the colourful detailing before stepping into Manama Post Office. No ordinary post office, this museum houses an archive of photographs from the postal service since its inception, an extensive catalogue of stamps from Bahrain and all over the world, and a collection of vintage scales and franking machines. As for its claim to fame? It was designed by none other than interior designer Ammar Basheir.

Food Matters

Bahrain is an island beloved amongst foodies, and it’s easy to see why. A district by the name of Block 338 is where everything from Nikkei cuisine hotspot Clay and patisserie Café Lilou to Japanese restaurant Mirai and Mexican eatery Calexico reside. Elsewhere, rustic-chic Italian restaurant L’ORTO is still the hottest ticket in town, bringing a taste of the Tuscan countryside to Manama – after all, everything chef Susy Massetti touches turns to gold.

Another firm favourite is Fusions By Tala, a dynamic eatery where Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi – the poster child for culinary experimentation – captures the essence and flavours of local cuisine while transforming it into lighter, more elevated fare. But if an entirely unexpected experience is what you’re seeking, make a beeline for Japanese teahouse Chawan. Here, a Bahraini tea master by the name of Budoor Steele hosts traditional tea ceremonies, celebrates Japanese festivals such as Tanabata and Tsukimi, and serves intricately crafted nibbles like onigiri, mochi, and nerikiri.

A visit to Bahrain

Culture Quest

The island’s art and culture scene is constantly evolving, but Muharraq is where it’s at if you’re pressed for time. You don’t have to go looking for its charm either – it’s there in spades, especially if you’re guilty of Golden Age thinking. And the best way to discover the neighbourhood? A walk down the Pearling Path, a 3.5km trail that snakes through its storied alleyways, rehabilitating this urban center of yesteryear while introducing contemporary infrastructure to match modern-day lifestyles. It’s especially suited to those interested in street photography, public art, street food, and coffee pitstops. 

Most people don’t realise that Pearling Path includes 17 public squares that are dotted along the different neighbourhoods that the path crosses, with strategically placed lamp posts guiding visitors through the streets. For an optimum introduction to Bahrain’s pearling era, start at the Pearling Path Visitor and Experience Centre, which sits at the entrance of Qayssareyah Suq and hosts rotating exhibits on pearling history alongside a café and an auditorium. Alternatively, you can begin at the trail’s southern starting point, Bu Mahir Fort (from where boats used to set off for oyster beds) and its glass-walled visitor centre. 

While you’re around, be sure to see the Vertical Garden up close – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in innovation. This living laboratory at the entrance of Muharraq is home to over 200 plant species, mostly from subtropical and desertic areas around the world and is the first of its kind in the region. Sheikh Isa Bin Ali House, one of the most impressive examples of Gulf Islamic architecture in Bahrain, is another interesting spot. Stroll around its multiple courtyards and walk up and down the various staircases to take in the carved wooden doors, ingenious wind towers, and perforated gypsum panels for insights into royal life circa 19th century.

Journey Back

There’s no shortage of ancient sites on the island, and one’s more intriguing than the last. The UNESCO-recognised burial mounds from the Dilmun era, for example, are a must-visit. Unique and mysterious, they continue to dominate the A’ali landscape due to their sheer number – there are over 11,000 of them and therefore impossible to miss. Prefer to time-travel within the comfort of a cultural landmark? Of the many exhibition halls at Bahrain National Museum, one focuses on the artifacts and history of the Dilmun civilisation, while another showcases its fascinating burial practices – it even features an actual burial mound that was transported from A’ali and reassembled onsite!

Meanwhile, as Bahrain residents turn to trendy rooftop bars for great views, we suggest Qal’at al- Bahrain (or Bahrain Fort as it is commonly known) instead. Walk around this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll encounter plenty of vantage points while breathing in the soothing ocean air. On your left, you’ll see the adjoining Karbabad Beach, which explains that aforementioned breeze. Straight ahead? An excavated coastal fortress dating back to the 3rd century AD, with the glistening city skyline rising above the horizon. The site is also surrounded by groves of palm trees, which you’ll notice on your right. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exceptional example of human occupation that spans nearly 4,500 years.

Sun, Sea, Sand

You’d think an island would entail plenty of beach clubs to choose from, but alas, that is not the case. Luckily, boho-chic Solymar Beach brings dining, partying, swimming, sunbathing, and lounging in luxury to one highly Instagrammable venue. However, what makes Bahrain truly unique in this part of the world is that it’s composed of 70 natural and 33 artificial islands. Jaradah Island is arguably the most famous as it’s only visible during low tide. Another great option is Al Dar Island, despite its size. 

For starters, it’s just a 10-minute boat ride from Sitra Fishing Port. If facilities are high on your agenda, this one’s for you – everything from palm leaf huts and chalets to fishing trips, dolphin-watching excursions, and water sports are on offer. There’s even a burger joint on the island in case you get peckish. For something a little more serene, think Nurana Islands. Whether you head here for a run, a horse ride, a swim, or killer views, it’s utter bliss.

beaches in Bahrain

The Great Escape

A journey deep into the lush green mangroves in Tubli Bay is one that every tourist should take. This one-of-a-kind eco tour feels like a true escape, taking you away from the commotion of the city centre and introducing you to the aquatic plants and diverse wildlife of this protected ecosystem. Birdwatchers are also bound to enjoy the boat ride due to the sheer variety of resident and migratory birds spotted throughout. 

The Great Escape

Mother Nature has blessed the island with so much more than the aforementioned mangroves, though. The height and density of the trees at Karzakan Forest is unexpected, to say the least, making it a popular place for impromptu photoshoots and early morning cycle rides. But if you’re going to make the time to visit only one natural wonder, it has to be the Tree of Life. For over 400 years now, this 32-foot mesquite tree has stood all by its lonesome in the barren desert with no water source in sight, making it an enigma to many – and a source of pride for Bahrain.

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Taylor Elizabeth smiling

An Etiquette Advisor on Ramadan Done Right

Consider this your go-to guide.

Ramadan is the time for hearty iftars, communal prayers, and late-night gatherings with family and friends. This year, as we return to normalcy, we share our top tips on Ramadan done right.

TIP 1: Be a Good Guest

As a guest in the Middle East, it is important to respect the traditions and cultures of the country you now call home. You can start to do this by educating yourself on the meaning of this month. Ramadan is the ninth – and most sacred – month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time of fasting, reflection on one’s relationship with God, togetherness as a family, and study of the Quranic scriptures. 

In this holy month, it’s also crucial to know how to exchange greetings. You can greet people by saying ‘Ramadan Kareem’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ to acknowledge that we are in Ramadan. You can also add ‘Al Salam Alaikum’ – the standard greeting when meeting people – to enhance your Ramadan greeting. Here are some short but useful phrases to brush up on during the month.

ramadan greetings

If you would like to know if a colleague or acquaintance is fasting, you may ask, “Sayem?” You may also hear ‘Emta El Maghreb?’ quite frequently. This means, ‘What time is the Maghreb prayer?’ The fourth prayer of the day, it indicates what time the fast is broken.

TIP 2: Timing Is Everything

Work timings often become shorter during Ramadan as Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. You should also be mindful of prayer timings as Muslims pray five times a day – two of which take place during working hours. It is important not to schedule meetings or deadlines that will interfere with prayers during these timings.

The prayer time you should be most conscious of is the one that takes place around 6:45pm because that’s when the fast is broken for the day. If you have house help who observes Ramadan, you can lessen their workload during this time as fasting is not an easy task – especially at the beginning of Ramadan. Those who fast are most likely to be tired later in the day, so if you can schedule chores in the morning while they still have energy from eating suhoor, it would certainly show your mindfulness.

TIP 3: Avoid Eating and Drinking in Public

Eating (including chewing gum) or drinking in public during Ramadan is not allowed in the UAE, unless you have a medical condition. In this post-pandemic age, you also need to be cautious not to have food or drinks nearby during Zoom calls. Even if you’re not drinking or eating, do not have water or food nearby so that these items don’t appear within your Zoom frame.   

As for alcohol? It is not okay to drink or show alcohol in public – either online or offline. And what does this mean? Comments or photos that display alcohol products or consumption on social media isn’t allowed – yes, this means #winenotwednesday is best left for after Ramadan. Also be sure to not display alcohol during your Zoom calls. This does not mean that you should change your preferences or lifestyle during Ramadan; simply continue to eat and drink as you would, but privately.

Watch the Video: Must-Know Tips for Ramadan

TIP 4: Fashion, But Make It Modest

Ramadan fashion has some strict no-nos – even on Zoom calls. This means no tank tops, shorts, low V-necks, or sleeveless tops. Instead, you can opt for jackets, long-sleeved tops, or an embroidered kaftan if you are feeling adventurous.

Looking to get into the sartorial spirit? During this time, you’ll see that several clothing outlets, online retailers, and local designers run Ramadan collections ranging from the affordable to the luxurious. Keep in mind that even if you don’t fast during Ramadan, it is still important to dress responsibly to show respect to your host country and its people.

TIP 5: Err on the Side of Caution 

During Ramadan, make sure that you do not behave aggressively, engage in public displays of affection, dance or play music in public (although you may listen to music quietly with headphones), and swear (blasphemy is considered extra offensive during Ramadan). Generally, it is best to avoid doing anything that might be considered rude or wrong in Arab culture.

TIP 6: Be Generous and Charitable

Gift-giving is considered a significant act in Arab culture, especially during Ramadan. You could gift sweets or dates as it’s a way to wish your Muslim friends or colleagues a sweet life as they break their fast. Patchi chocolates and Bateel dates offer beautifully packaged gift sets during Ramadan. Another option is tea sets or coffee cups from O’de Rose.  

Charity is one of the pillars of Islam, so if you’d like to get into the spirit of Ramadan by giving back, look into the One Billion Meals campaign. The recently launched charity initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum aims to donate one billion meals to the poor and hungry worldwide. Giving back at this time is another way we can show love towards both our community and the country we call home.   

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You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for April

Mark your calendars.

April 2: Take a Stroll

Kickstart the holy month on a cultural note, exploring the colourful neighborhood of Karama through a Gulf Photo Plus photo walk entitled Suhoor Strolls. You’ll be given night-photography tips to capture images that depict Ramadan alongside a special tandoori chai stop, insights on local history, the discovery of hidden gems, and feedback on your work.

Learn more here.

April 5: Process Your Emotions

Research shows that painting can be a very potent method for expression and emotional release – and that’s where the Process Painting session at Kave comes in. Considering the experience of painting is more important than the outcome, you’ll learn how to trust your intuition and overcome blocks by embracing their hidden message.

Learn more here.

April 9: Join the Community

Ramadan Nights at Jameel Arts Centre are all about family-friendly fun from 9pm until midnight. You can explore exhibitions, participate in workshops for both adults and children led by a locally based creative, join a hands-on activity at one of many stations, and enjoy a late night treat at farm-to-fork restaurant Teible or one of the local food vendors. Bonus: entry is free.

Learn more here.

Wellness Events

April 13: Prioritise Yourself

It’s no secret that women tend to put themselves last, and attempting to remedy the problem is the Women’s Empowerment workshop at Illuminations. Taking place onsite, it will teach participants about the art of self-care – tangible tools and strategies included – in order to achieve more balance, energy, vitality, and well-being.

Learn more here.

April 15: Clear Your Chakras

Hosted by SEVA, the Full Moon ThetaHealing session is a wonderful opportunity to free yourself from the limitations and energy blocks in your life because the full moon phase is downright powerful – it’s an optimum time for recharging your energy field and clearing your chakras. Unsurprisingly, many cultures have full moon rituals because there’s so much pure energy in the air that can be used to yield incredible healing results.

Learn more here.

April 17: Mold and Destress

The Clay Art For Wellbeing session at The Workshop in Jumeirah is not about learning pottery. Instead, it’s about working with clay to release stress as participants will be directed by prompts to mold and create a piece of art based on the theme of the day, with a registered Art Psychotherapist leading the workshop.

Learn more here.

Wellness Events Dubai

April 20: Recognise the Signs

With the pandemic resulting in a rise of eating disorders worldwide, the A Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders webinar hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help parents gain a better understanding of what an eating disorder is and how they develop. The session will help recognise the warning signs, learn about treatment, and learn practical tips for supporting young people with such issues.

Learn more here.

April 22: Play Your Part

With the return of Earth Day, the time for action is now – and there’s still time to register for the Green Call Project hosted by Emirates Environmental Group. To get involved and help heal the planet, exchange old mobile phones and tablets for an opportunity to plant a native tree sapling in December.

Learn more here.

April 29: Broaden Your Horizons

The beloved Ramadan Iftar Program at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding returns, taking place in a wind-tower house in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Not only will guests have a traditional iftar with Emirati hosts, who will happily answer questions related to the holy month and local customs, but there will also be a visit to Diwan Mosque before returning to the center for dessert and tea.

Learn more here.

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Special Ramadan festival lamps in dessert in dubai

9 Activities & Events to Explore This Ramadan

Gather the family together for these.

Ramadan is not only rooted in self-discipline and introspection, but it’s also the perfect month to spend quality time with loved ones. To guide you on how to make the most out it, we’ve rounded up the nine best activities you can do with friends and family in Dubai.

Dhow Cruise

Indulge in iftar – with a twist! Enjoy up to two hours of continental dinner delights as you cruise alongside cultural sites such as Dubai Museum, Heritage Village, Gold Souq, and more. Choose between the dhow’s lower or upper deck and soak in the beautiful sights as you break your fast.

Dhow Cruise, 055 728 5588, [email protected]

Al Seef

This cultural attraction features both classic and contemporary architecture that shows the beautiful contrast between the old and new Dubai. Catch a glimpse of the past as you take a stroll down the creek and enjoy its various shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Top tip: make a quick detour at the unique Starbucks branch and take that Insta-worthy shot.

Al Seef, Al Seef Village, Dubai Creek, 800-738245, alseef.ae

Ramadan Activities in Ramadan

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding

Learn about the country’s history through SMCCU’s guided walking tour along the neighbourhood. Then, relish in the rich flavours of traditional Emirati cuisine through a cultural dining experience led by its very own local hosts. The motto Open Doors, Open Minds means that any inquiry – big or small – is welcome, so don’t hesitate to ask questions in order to make the most out of your experience.

SMCCU, House 26 & 47, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Al Musallah Street, Bur Dubai, 04 353 6666, [email protected]

Infinity Des Lumières

Watch the most iconic art come to life as you walk through the impressive 2,700-square-metre structure located inside The Dubai Mall. This attraction uses 130 projectors, 58 speakers, and 3,000 HD digital images, holding the record for the largest digital attraction in the region. Learn more about the life of Van Gogh or take a digital stroll across Japan through this surreal visual activity.

Infinity Des Lumières, Level 2 The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, Financial Center Rd, 050 358 3001, infinitylumieres.com

Box Park

If you prefer a more laidback Ramadan activity, meandering through Box Park on Al Wasl Road might be for you. It’s a modern lifestyle destination that offers unique dining and shopping experiences for everyone. And if you schedule your visit during the evening, you can also enjoy its lively atmosphere and colourful display of lights.

Box Park, Al Wasl Road, 800 738245, boxpark.ae

Dubai Water Canal

Take a relaxing post-iftar walk along Dubai Water Canal, where you can choose among various attractions along its path, such as watching a show at La Perle or cruise along its waters from Marasi Marina in Business Bay. If you prefer a more physical activity, you can bike along its cycle paths and take in the beauty of Dubai on your own time.

Dubai Water Canal, Sheikh Zayed Road, visitdubai.com 

Dubai Frame

This unique Dubai landmark treats its visitors to a 360-degree view of Dubai’s past and present. Witness the amazing growth of the city through three different attractions showing its past, present, and future. Don’t forget to step on its interactive 50-metre Skydeck that will make you feel like you’re walking on air.

Dubai Frame, Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Za’abeel, Al Kifaf, 800 900, dubaiframe.ae

City Walk

Take your shopping experience to the next level by visiting City Walk. This shopping establishment boasts modern, open-architecture that’s perfect for spending weekends with the family. Visit its trendy dining spots and overwhelm your senses with the endless array of flavours from around the globe. 

City Walk, Al Safa St, Al Wasl, 04 590 5090, citywalk.ae

Give Back

What better way is there to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan than by giving back? We suggest discovering the many government-recognised charities before creating a positive impact by donating or volunteering. You never know, your small act of kindness might just make a big difference.

See the full list of charities here.

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Delicious dishes with lemon

Handpicked: The Best Suhoors Across Dubai

Served with a side of shisha, striking views, and more.

Maiz Tacos 

Whatcha’ taco bout? This homegrown concept used to be Dubai’s best-kept secret (and started out as a food truck), but now, you think of Maiz Tacos when you think of casual Mexican food. Planning a game night suhoor? Want to surprise your friends with something different? Maiz Tacos has you sorted with its various catering solutions. Choose from DIY Taquero Boxes that come labelled with instructions on how to put together your own taco station or the Maiz Tacos Mexican Grazing Boards with an impressive menu serving up all the Maiz Tacos favourites – with a private chef in tow to cook and put it all together, of course.

Maiz Tacos, JLT, Cluster Y, AED 1550+ for Maiz Tacos Mexican Grazing Board, 04 514 4712, @maiztaco  

The Bay

Go on a culinary adventure with a seaside suhoor at The Bay, enjoying a wide variety of freshly prepared traditional dishes, succulent spiced meat from the Levant, with a wide variety of Arabic sweets and beverages – all while surrounded by luxurious décor and a beachfront setting with the soothing tunes of live oud in the background. While you’re there, be sure to admire the fan-shaped artwork made by famed autistic artist Abdulla Lutfi at a workshop he led to raise awareness about autism, as the beginning of the holy month coincides with World Autism Day this year.

The Bay, Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah, 11pm – 1:30am, à la carte, 04 777 2233, @thebaydubai

They Bay, Best Suhoors in Dubai

Cleos

Transport yourself to the exquisite world of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist at Cleos. Choose from two different menus – Standard and Premium – and enjoy a variety of different foods to match your palette. Relish a range of creamy dips, crisp salads, and soup of the day before being presented with hot dishes such as eggs cooked in a delicious spicy tomato and vegetable sauce. And If you’re looking for an upgrade, the Premium menu begins with a full Arabic mezzeh and includes tantalising main courses such as a bountiful Arabic Mixed Grill with appetising Shish Tawook and mouth-watering Diced Lamb and Lamb Kofta. Each menu also includes a live saj station as well as Arabic baklawa, dates, and carved seasonal fruits at the end of the meal.

Cleos, Hyde Hotel, Business Bay, 9pm 2am, AED 110 for the standard menu, AED 140 for the Premium menu, 04 871 1013, @hydedubai

Epicure Shisha Lounge

Step into an oasis of calm, just a stone’s throw away from the heart of the city, at Meliã Desert Palm. Here, you can enjoy an à la carte suhoor at Epicure Shisha Lounge. Open for individuals and families, the suhoor menu includes a selection of hot and cold mezza and salads, with multiple choices for the main course, sides, and desserts. 

Epicure Shisha Lounge, Meliã Desert Palm, 9pm –1am, à la carte, 04 602 9323, @meliadesertpalm

Bridgewater Tavern 

This Ramadan, savour mouth-watering Arabic delicacies with undisturbed views overlooking the stunning Dubai Canal at Bridgewater Tavern’s terrace. Enjoy relaxed al fresco dining, including a hubbly-bubbly on offer for guests. You can also reserve a table indoors if you’re looking to catch a live broadcast of your favourite sporting events while enjoying the same delicacies. 

Bridgewater Tavern, W Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, à la carte, 04 414 0000, @bridgewatertavern

Suhoors in Dubai

CÉ LA VI

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know about CÉ LA VI, the most Instagrammable restaurant in all of Dubai. Now, it’s launching an suhoor menu to break your fast in style, with delicious food, stunning views, and an atmosphere like no other. Watch the sun disappear over the Downtown Dubai skyline while enjoying shisha, gourmet dates, sparkling date juice, date biscuits, kholas pecan pie, and other luxury delicacies curated by Bateel. A luxury tower of organic dates with filled dates, dried fruits, and pastries can also be ordered separately. Looking for more? Pick a dish from the à la carte menu and enjoy it on the ever-popular deck area.

CÉ LA VI, Address Sky View Hotel, 8:30pm – 3am, AED 250 per person, 04 582 6111, @célavidubai

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A man and woman having food at restaurant

Handpicked: The Best Iftars Across the UAE

With this many options, a girl needs a little guidance!

COYA Dubai

Break your fast with an elegant array of Latin American light bites, served within the eclectic and artistic ambiance of an award-winning restaurant at COYA Dubai. Relish in the rich flavours with something for everyone. Meat eaters will love the costillas de res beef ribs and corn-fed baby chicken with aji panca and coriander, while pescatarians with be delighted by the salmon with stir-fried quinoa and vegetables, plus the iconic arroz nikkei iron pot that features fresh sea bass, rice, lime, and chili. Vegetarians, meanwhile, will be treated to a wholesome plate of quinoa, pearl barley, sprouting broccoli, cancha, and coriander, while a gorgeous side of hearty patatas bravas provides the perfect accompaniment.

COYA Dubai, Four Seasons Resort Dubai, sunset 7:30pm, AED 250 per person, 04 316 9600, @coyadubai

[email protected]’O

What better place to combine the charms of the East and the West with a touch of luxury than at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche’s signature Mediterranean restaurant and lounge? Pair breathtaking views with luxurious indoor and outdoor spaces at [email protected]’O, where you can break your fast with a grand iftar buffet that features a selection of culinary delicacies including ouzi, chicken rotisserie, mansaf, lamb couscous along with Arabic coffee, tea and soft drinks. 

[email protected]’O, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, sunset – 10pm, AED 225 per person, kids ages from 7-12 years old get a 50% discount, 02 813 7777, @sofitelabudhabicorniche

Mina’s Kitchen

Looking for a family-friendly iftar that caters to everyone? Mina’s Kitchen, a fun food hall concept, takes you from across the Middle East to Asia with a delicious buffet that welcomes second and third helpings. While the kids are entertained inside with the festivities, the adults can chill on the balcony and enjoy shisha.

Mina’s Kitchen, The Westin Mina Seyahi, sunset – 10pm, AED 165 per person and AED 65 for kids, 04 511 7373, @minaskitchendubai

TIMO

Whether you dine on the terrace by the pool or choose its cosy indoor banquette seating, prepare to be immersed in a lively Mediterranean ambiance as you relish in an iftar with a homemade Italian touch. At Timo, you can savour delectable dishes like spiced butter chicken, beef goulash, or chicken cordon bleu, and enjoy the three themed live stations serving a variety of dishes ranging from foul medames and manakiesh with spicy labneh to the wood-and-charcoal station serving kofta, shish taouk, and more.

Timo, Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel, sunset 10pm, AED 185 per person, 04 596 2292, @aljaddafrotana

Rang Mahal

Gather your family and friends and break your fast with a specially curated five-course iftar menu featuring traditional Arabic dishes with a traditional Indian twist at Rang Mahal. Guests can savour an array of hot and cold mezze, shorba, kebabs, and delectable mains including Nihari Khaas, Murg Rezala, Lucknowi Khatti Dal, Murg Dum Biryani, and more. To end the evening on a sweet note, indulge in a traditional Hyderabadi-style bread pudding, blended with a unique creation of Um Ali that is sure to tantalise your taste buds.

Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, sunset 9pm, AED 225 per person, 04 414 3000, @rangmahaldubai

Bol Gappa 

Calling all Bollywood fans! Break your fast at Bol Gappa, a desi playground with a fun fusion set menu for iftar. It includes Indian favourites and treats we can’t wait to taste, such as Rose Sherbet. Begin with a choice of starters from a selection of Soya Khurana, Chicken Tikka Ala Re, and Chicken Khurana. Mains include Indian fan favourites such as Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Pan Singh Tomar Masala, Paneer Khurchan, and a Biryani of your choice. Complete the meal with a mouthwatering traditional Indian dessert, like Gulab Jamun or Gajar Halwa.

Bol Gappa, Wasl Opal Building, Umm Hurair Road, sunset – late, AED 59 per person, 04 335 5144, @bolgappa

Silk & Spice

Spice up your Ramadan – literally! – at this award-winning Thai restaurant with a variety of options. Fancy a family-style menu? Enjoy iftar with a unique Thai touch at Silk & Spice with delectable dishes such as Vegetable Green Curry, Jasmine Rice, Pad Thai, and Stir-Fried Chicken. Want to break your fast at a more intimate gathering? Cue the specially curated ‘Iftar in a Box’. Indulge in a gourmet iftar experience from the comforts of your home, with all the works including Mansaf, Lamb Couscous, and Ouzi.

Silk & Spice, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, sunset 10pm, AED 195 per person, Iftar in a Box for AED 245 for 2 adults, AED 445 for 4 adults, and AED 790 for 8 adults, 02 813 7777, @sofitelabudhabicorniche

Kitchen6

If you want to be spoiled with an endless an ensemble of flavours from across the globe while seated close to the skies at the world’s highest hotel, turn on your heels and head straight to the sprawling Kitchen 6. Guests can enjoy six interactive cooking stations ready to offer an extraordinary selection of world cuisines, including a carving station and a sushi bar. Satiate your appetite with an array of Lebanese cold mezze and hot mezze, while main courses like Lamb Ouzzi with saffron rice, Mixed Grill, slow-cooked Lamb Chops, and much more adorn the menu. Did we also mention the live dessert stations for your sweeter cravings? 

Kitchen6, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, sunset – 8:30pm, AED 215 per person, 04 414 0000, @jwmarriottmarquisdubai

Two.0

Escape to island restaurant Two.0 for an incredible iftar featuring an international buffet that includes freshly baked goods, cold and hot mezze, salads, and sushi alongside a selection of main courses and desserts. And elevating the dining experience? A live BBQ station, where you can enjoy sizzling culinary creations. Beverages here include special Ramadan juices, water, and Moroccan tea.

Two.0, Reem Island Abu Dhabi, sunset 8:30 pm, AED 179 per person, 056 398 7895, @two.0covebeach

Bella

Italian restaurant Bella is offering a special iftar menu, perfect for those looking for a touch of sparkle to their experience. Enjoy a variety of dishes like Insalata Di Kale (kale salad with tahini dressing, dates, raisins, mustard pearls), Brasato A Colori (slow-braised oyster blade with fermented red cabbage and mashed potato), Bella Pizza Signature (crispy pizza with goat cheese foam, beetroot, kale, agave dressing pecorino cheese, walnut candy), and more. Top tip: be sure to leave some room for the delicious Galeto Al Latte Di Cammello (camel milk ice cream with cherries and almond crumble).

Bella, Grand Millennium Hotel, Business Bay, sunset – 9pm, AED 250 per person, 04 873 3377, @bellarestaurantdxb

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Chef vikas khanna with his mother and grandmother

Dubai’s Finest Chefs Pay Tribute to Their Mothers

In honour of UAE Mother’s Day, today.

In a city of expats, most of us don’t have the luxury of celebrating Mother’s Day with our mothers – and Dubai’s most acclaimed chefs are no exception. What is undeniable, however, is the fact that their relationship with cooking was first introduced and nurtured by their mothers, regardless of where they hail from. Food is the universal language, after all. Here, we join three of Dubai’s favourites as they reflect on their early experiences in the kitchen and how their mothers have shaped who they are as chefs. Listen in.

Chef Akmal Anuar

Akmal Anuar’s legacy may include 3Fils, which recently topped the inaugural list of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants, but his reign is just beginning. Today, this Singapore-born chef is responsible for the culinary creations at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori, the recently opened 11 Woodfire, and Sharjah-based CHIE, always prioritising flavour and quality ingredients over culinary gimmicks.

“My parents are hawkers back in Singapore and, to this day, nothing has changed. My mother – being the chef of the business – has been cooking daily since 1992, so as a kid, that was all I knew in terms of making a living. Growing up, I never understood why she had to cook everywhere we went, even at big family gatherings. 

Now that I’m much older, I realise that all the other women in the kitchen knew her level and were intimidated by how good she was! She was the queen of the kitchen, and her food made everyone happy. I can safely say that her consistent focus and drive to be her best every single day is what inspires me as a chef today.”

Chef Bernardo Paladini

Often dubbed the “hand-picked protégé of Massimo Bottura”, Bernardo Paladini helms the kitchen of Torno Subito at W Dubai – The Palm, designing Italian dishes that manage to span simplicity, sophistication, and sustainability. His prior experience includes a stint at Osteria Francescana, a Modena-based restaurant that was once ranked #1 on the World’s Best Restaurants list.  

“For us Italians, our mothers and grandmothers are always the best chefs in the world. My mother is a teacher, and has always pushed me to value my culture and taught me the importance of diversity. And that’s why I believe a chef is not just the sum of his recipes – having a strong cultural background and relationships with the community is even more important. 

Mum is all about minimising waste in the kitchen, teaching me that everything can be used. Vegetable scraps can be used in soups and stocks, for example. Incidentally, she grew up in Argentina, so I was exposed to several South American dishes as a child, which has made me passionate about Latin-American gastronomy too.”

Chef Vikas Khanna

Vikas Khanna rose to fame as his Manhattan-based restaurant Junoon maintained a Michelin star for eight consecutive years, elevating the perception of Indian cuisine on a global scale. Much to the delight of Dubai diners, the celebrity chef heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna, where the dishes are inspired by the raw beauty of home cooking, but with an inventive twist – and well worth the hype.

“My mother has been a pillar of strength for me – in my cooking obsession as a child and every other way. I was fortunate enough to start my career by opening something with her in the back of our house in Amritsar, and she taught me that so much of running a venture is about patience. This was back in 1991, when a woman running her own business was very rare, so she illustrated the power of walking the path alone if you want to be a pathbreaker.

We used to have a lemon tree in our house, and she always said that you can’t pluck lemons before they’re at the right stage. It’s the same when it comes to cooking – you can’t rush it. She also helped me understand temperature as a culinary technique. We used to sell puri, and she would explain that fried bread needs a shock. This was done with high temperatures, which requires one to observe, to be very vigilant. And that’s also the best way to learn in the kitchen. Her faith in me is the reason I take so many risks and have this global career. It’s all thanks to her.”

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