Along a snowy road in Switzerland is a tiny kiosk emblazoned with the words: Emirati hot chocolate.
The promise of a hot drink with a sprinkling of culture has been more than enough to entice delegates at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, who are curious to grab a cup and try a bespoke version of the classic beverage, one that is made of ghawa, or traditional Emirati coffee.
The small, hot cups are being handed out for free from the bustling roadside cart next to the UAE Pavilion. Like the UAE itself, the arena is filled with people of different nationalities, wanting to have a sip.
“It’s been hugely popular,” Nawal Al Nuaimi, the chef behind the kiosk, tells The National. “We’re struggling to keep up with demand, to be honest.”
What is Emirati hot chocolate?
“We wanted to make a drink that is a perfect fusion of Emirati and Swiss culture,” says Al Nuaimi, who lives in Sharjah, though is currently in Davos.
“We wanted to have something uniquely Emirati, but at the same time celebrate our friends from Davos and Switzerland — so we’ve combined hot coffee from the desert with cold chocolate from the Alps.”
The chef drew inspiration from her passion for “finding new flavour pairings”. At the moment, Al Nuaimi's Emirati hot chocolate recipe is not available in the UAE, but it may soon find its way to Paper Fig, the restaurant she runs in Sharjah.
Al Nuaimi started out baking for friends and family, eventually growing it to a home business with two full-time drivers delivering cakes to her rising customer base.
“I realised it was time to open a restaurant, and so my husband and I did just that,” she says.
With a grant from the Khalifa Fund, the couple opened Paper Fig in Sharjah's Muwaileh area in 2015. The restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as speciality coffee, has since grown from having seven employees to 70.
In crafting the menu, Al Nuaimi drew inspiration from her culinary heroes including French pastry chef and chocolatier Pierre Herme and celebrity master patissier Christophe Michalak.
Al Nuaimi has partnered with another UAE business, The Espresso Lab, to serve her Emirati hot chocolate in Davos.
And, so far, the team appear to found the recipe for success while sharing a touch of UAE culture in Davos.
The forum, which welcomes leaders from business and politics to discuss global issues, ends on Saturday.