Last Sunday, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, attended an iftar banquet, hosted in their honour by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan who is theMinister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development in Dubai.
Also present were Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance; Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser; and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region. Present at the occasion were a number of Sheikhs, Ministers and senior officials.
At the Sultan’s Palace at Rixos, the Palm in Dubai, it’s a different ball game. A touch of Turkish extravaganza from the Ottoman era is what guests at the Rixos The Palm Dubai can experience during this Ramada at the resort, which is located on Dubai’s iconic manmade island, The Palm Jumeirah.
The Sutlan’s era is the theme for this Ramadan Tent as Breaking Travel News roving reporter Phil Blizzard discovered.
As soon as I entered Qasr Al Sultan I was transported back to another era – a period when time drifted by more slowly, where people broke their fasts at this very spiritual time of year with board games and shisha, while reflecting back on life.
This gentle breaking of the fast is what I witnessed at Qasr Al Sultan.
The tent has been designed to reflect the elegance of the Sultan’s palace with its drapes of vibrant coloured silks, glass chandeliers suspend above the main dining area, a relaxing majlis for smoking shisha (hubble bubble pipe) and quiet conversation.
Alongside this a stage for a small band to perform during the late evening Sohour meal – accompanied by Ottoman and Middle Eastern rhythms.
Meanwhile, soccer fans can watch live action from the FIFA World Cup on monitors around the tent – during both Iftar and Sohour.
As for Iftar, the meal began with water, dates and assorted dried fruits along with the laban – a salty milk drink and also fruit juices made from watermelon, apricots and the tamar hind – using the spice tamarind. In separate glasses and not all mixed together I’m pleased say.
Following that fast breaking start to Iftar there was a full ‘buffet’ – a wide variety of dishes from across the Middle East, with a special emphasis on Turkey.
So plenty of doner and other kebabs, along with the popular ‘ouzi’ – a whole lamb cooked very slowly on a bed of rice with an assortment of spices and sprinkled with nuts.
During the Iftar meal I was joined by Mouhamad Hadla who is the hotel manager at The Palm Dubai and he said: “Ramadan for is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship.
“It is simply the time of the year where we become much more forgiving and start appreciating all the good and pleasant things in life.
“It is a complete way of life, sense of unity, gathering of friends, family and expression of genuine feelings.
“For our team it is the synergy of respect, commitment, improvement and unity that leads to such a phenomenal experience during Ramadan.”
He then suggested I try the desserts – and what an array!
From numerous international dishes, to delight everyone with a sweet tooth, to the regional dishes such as the rice pudding called locally ‘Umm Ali’ – coming from Ali’s Mother!
Plus, and no Sultan’s Palace would be complete without a copious array of silver platters overflowing with baclava and the ‘must have’ Turkish Delight.
Finally, to cool off the evening the world famous Turkish Maras Ice cream, followed by Turkish tea, making this an Iftar fit for a Sultan.
In Dubai generally the traditional feast served in the Ramadan tent caters to a wide variety of customers.
For the veg-lover, there’s a collection of traditional mezzas done to perfection. The fried cheese sambosek were especially scrumptious; where some places serve these bland and flavourless, At a tent they were just the right amount of salty and mouth-watering. Spinach sambosek, French fries, a selection of salads, hummus, moutabel and vine leaves were also served up. Start off with the tomato or lentil soup and indulge in the penne pasta as your main dish, and it’ll be a meatless bliss.
For the light eater, sampling small portions seems to work best. Narrowing it down to your favourite dish before you’re too full is also a viable option. For me, it was the lamb ouzi that stole the show — presented on a massive, intimidating platter, but proving to be gentle on the taste buds. The lamb will melt in your mouth. Steal a bit of rota yogurt from the biryani section and add some grilled meat or chicken to the side, and you’ll be good to go.
And lastly, for the try-everything-once eater, you will find a bit of everything to indulge in. Along with the aforementioned, you can also experiment at the DIY shawarma stand or just hurry right to the array of desserts. If you’re health conscious, pile the fruits up high. If you’re letting your hair down, choose from chocolate mousse, strawberry cheesecake, layered chocolate cake or the classic umm Ali.
And whether you’re a veg-lover, a light eater or a brave soul willing to try it all, there’s Jalab and Qamar Al Din to help wash your meal down.