Food Culture in the United Arab Emirates

Authored by:
Rawya Abu Hajleh

With over 80 nationalities represented, the United Arab Emirates offers a diverse set of cultural demographics. One of my personal favorite elements of culture, is food. Food is a shared love around the world. The act of cooking and eating with others brings people together internationally, and there’s no better place than the UAE to gather with friends and eat anything and everything. Not only does the UAE offer a huge variety of cuisine, but also, given the competitive nature of the restaurant industry, there are constantly deals and promotions. 


Of every country I’ve visited, the UAE offers the most comprehensive on-demand food market. There are multiple food delivery apps, most well-known being ‘Talabat’ and ‘Zomato’. Both apps behave similarly to the more internationally famous apps, ‘UberEats’, ‘Postmates’, and ‘GrubHub’. Although all the aforementioned apps serve the same purpose of delivering food that would otherwise be undeliverable, the apps featured in the UAE have a few distinctive differences. First, and more importantly, there are rarely any delivery fees. If there is a delivery fee, it is always under 10 Dirhams, or approximately 2.50 USD. Also, the drivers are usually very accurate in delivery location as there is an option to drop a pin on google maps at your exact location. Lastly, both apps celebrate any holiday one could think of by offering deals and coupon codes. Zomato in particular has a ‘Hungry 50’ week about once a month in which it offers 50% off your total order. Given the huge variety of restaurants that deliver to University City, the many sales, and the general low-cost, food delivery is extremely easy and always satisfying in the UAE. 


 Beyond food delivery, restaurants themselves offer constant deals and happy hours. Many restaurants and pubs offer ladies nights where women can get discounts on food and beverages. On holidays, including Halloween, Valentines day, Christmas, and most importantly, Ramadan, most restaurants will offer all-inclusive buffets, or 4-course set menus that are incredibly economical and delicious. Lastly, there are lists of restaurants that offer birthday specials. My personal favorite being ABC’s Barbecue, a 6 course, Indian buffet inclusive of at-table barbecuing and cold-stone ice cream all completely free on your birthday. A few helpful tips: if you’re looking to cash in on a birthday deal, make sure to bring a valid I.D. It’s always good to book a table before hand, especially at restaurants with holiday deals or live music. 

     Whether you want a relaxed night in with exceptional delivery, or a fancy holiday meal on the Dubai waterfront, the UAE offers incredibly accessible and diverse cuisine options to fit your every fancy.


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