With so many options, the choice of iftars can seem overwhelming. We suggest 10 options for breaking your fast that are new this year – plus five old favourites.
Palazzo Versace, Culture Village, Al Jadaf, Dubai
Although an Italian brand, the Versace hotel, with its marble and gold decor, has proven hugely popular with locals.
Its iftars will be hosted by the Giardino restaurant, also home of the hotel’s lavish brunch. The high-end Arabic dishes on the menu include sea bass with herb-salted crust, chicken tagine with apricot and slow-cooked lamb with Arabic rice and nuts. A range of Indian and Italian dishes will also be available, as well as a live grill serving chicken shawarma and lamb rolls.
• Dh220, sunset to 9pm; 04 556 8888; www.palazzoversace.ae
The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
It’s one of the best new restaurants in the capital, so the iftar at Peruvian restaurant COYA has a lot to live up to. Nods to Arabic food do not extend much beyond sticky toffee date cake and Medjool date soup, but for an alternative and classy way to break the fast this looks to be a good choice. You get to pick one soup, a starter, a main and a dessert from the set menu. Options include their excellent salmon fillet with quinoa, and spicy beef with crispy shallots.
• Dh270, sunset to 11pm; 02 306 7000; visit www.coya.ae
Jannah Burj Al Sarab
There will be an iftar buffet in The Dining Room, featuring five menus, each combining international dishes with traditional Middle Eastern favourites, such as fattah, mixed grill, falafel and ful medames. The live cooking stations will also provide tastes of Europe, with a variety of Italian pasta on offer. The buffet includes free-flowing Ramadan juices and, intriguingly, the hotel boasts of having the “world’s fastest hotel internet” – so if you need to be online while dining, this might be the place to be.
• Dh99, sunset to 10pm; 02 307 6307; www.jannah.ae
JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai
Of all the new Turkish restaurants in the country, this is the most impressive. Perched on the 71st floor of the Marriot Marquis hotel, the views are spectacular – especially at sunset – making it the ideal setting for an upscale iftar. The food is consistently wonderful. Sharing starters include a sweet-potato hummus, vine-ripened tomatoes with dips, harira and lentil soups. Mains include roasted lamb shoulder and grilled boneless branzino accompanied by rice. Dessert options include a strawberry cheesecake qatayef with sumac strawberry, honey syrup and pistachio.
• Dh250, 7.30pm to midnight; 04 560 1799; www.morahdubai.com
The Westin Dubai
Al Habtoor City, Dubai
The grand Al Joud Ballroom of the new Westin Dubai hotel will be decorated to recreate an authentic bazaar market feel, with Moroccan lanterns, antique Arabic coffee pots and mini majlises set up in the private dining spaces. Traditional Arabic iftar foods from live cooking stations will be served, along with the signature date and baklava desserts, limited-edition date smoothies and fresh date juice. With the adjacent Creekside promenade now open, you can take a long, scenic walk afterwards to burn it all off.
• Dh185, sundown to 11pm; 04 355 577; www.westindubaialhabtoorcity.com
Bab Al Qasr Hotel
There will be a huge beachfront Ramadan tent at the Bab Al Qasr hotel, capable of holding up to 500 people. The interior will include 23 majlises for groups of diners and an iftar buffet with the traditional Ramadan food you would expect, including live cooking and carving stations, traditional accompaniments, Emirati favourites, a selection of continental delicacies and desserts. There will also be an à la carte Suhoor menu and, for smokers, a variety of shisha flavours available from 10pm.
• Dh250, Sunday to Wednesday; Dhs270, Thursday to Saturday sunset to 9pm; 02 205 3003; www.babalqasr.net
Ramadan 2967 at Inked Dubai
Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai
For something a little different, the pop-up iftar at Inked offers an evening of cuisine from the Berber people of North Africa. Served for sharing – as the Berbers eat – dishes include courgette zaalouk salad with roasted almonds and pomegranate dressing, slow-cooked beef with green peas, fava beans and artichokes, a barleysotto (risotto made with barley) served with glazed vegetables, and preserved lemon tajine. Desserts include a tiger cake with ras el hanout (a North African spice mix). It is a great chance to try a new cuisine in a setting that, for once, is not a hotel restaurant.
• Dh300, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, sunset to 9.30pm; 04 344 1788; www.inked.ae
The H Hotel, Dubai
Greg Malouf left Clé in Dubai in 2015 saying it was moving “toward entertainment and cabaret and that’s just not me – I’m here to cook”. The Lebanese-Australian chef is now back in the city with Zahira at the H Hotel. Its iftar menu will change weekly during Ramadan, with dishes including giant gulf prawns, salmon kibbeh, duck bisteeya, his famous Wagyu basturma, seven-vegetable tagine and chunky Turkish delight.
• Dh190 for a set menu, 6 to 9pm; 04 501 8606; www.zahira.ae
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi
This is the first Ramadan since the opening of the Marriott hotel and it will host daily iftars in Khayal. While all-day-dining restaurants are usually the least favoured in hotels as dining destinations, they make sense for iftars, given the nature of the buffet pick-and-mix style. The setting here is sleek and you can expect a greatest hits of Arabic food along with what the hotel is calling a “multi-cuisine spread”, which may appeal if you have experienced a few iftars and start to feel falafel fatigue.
• Dh170 for adults and Dhs70 forchildren (6-12 years), sunset to 9.30pm; 02 201 4000; www.marriott.com
Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai
Anatolian restaurant Rüya is offering an a la carte iftar menu designed by British executive chef Colin Clague. After being welcomed with dates, there will be Jerusalem soup with aubergine purée or red-lentil soup with minted chilli butter. Cold and warm starters include muhammara, simit-coated baby squid, cag kebap and the celebrated two-cheese pide. The mains include marinated baby chicken, grilled sea bream and kekek, a barley risotto with pulled lamb and spices. After 9pm the menu reverts to the normal à la carte selection.
• Dh195, sunset to 9pm; 04 399 9123; www.ruyadubai.com
Five old favourites
Ramadan Pavilion, Emirates Palace
The grandeur of Emirates Palace is undeniable, making for a spectacular sunset setting at which to break the fast. The Ramadan Pavilion will be in place outside the hotel, with live cooking and carving stations. This is
always a huge spread, with all the Emirati favourites and traditional accompaniments covered – the meats here are always particularly good – as well as a wide range of continental delicacies and desserts. It is a grand iftar to get things started and is worth trying at least once during Ramadan.
• Dh265, sunset to 9pm; 02 690 7999; www.emiratespalace.ae
Al Majlis at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai
The perennial favourite of the Ramadan majlis at Madinat Arena returns. Augmented by the traditional-looking
architecture of Madinat Jumeirah, it is a fine setting. It can cater for up to 1,000 people, making it one of the biggest iftar options. There are also private spaces available, making it a good option if you want to book an area for a larger group. Most traditional food is included and for night owls, an a la carte suhoor follows until 3am.
• Dh210, sunset to 8.45pm; 04 366 6380; www.jumeirah.com
The Terrace at The St Regis Abu Dhabi
The St Regis has become a reliable and classy option for iftar. When the sun sets you start with a big sharing meze, then the live cooking stations provide excellent main courses, including a lovely salt-crusted hammour and slow-roasted lamb ouzi. You should also try the Persian kashke bademjan (aubergine). The origins of dishes here go beyond the Gulf and include some fine Egyptian and Lebanese offerings. The dessert station is large and well stocked, with the muhalabiah (milk flan from Lebanon) one of the top picks. The hotel also hosts an “Iftar in the Clouds” in its suite 220 metres in the air, at a cost of Dh250 a person for up to 50 guests, from Thursday to Saturday during the holy month.
• Dh175 for The Terrace iftar, sunset to 11pm; 02 694 4553; www.stregisabudhabi.com
Asateer at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Asateer is vast and has become one of the most popular iftar locations. The cavernous 2,400-square-metre venue boasts a ceiling adorned with 700 hanging lamps – a spectacular sight in itself. The food sticks to Arabic staples – the chicken tagine is worth trying – and there are also oud players, dedicated prayer rooms and chess and backgammon tables.
• Dh205, sunset to 8.30pm; 04 426 0800; www.atlantisthepalm.com
Bab Al Shams
The Bab Al Shams Desert Resort iftar places you in a beautiful setting among the dunes without having to go too far from the city. There is something more authentic and fun about breaking your fast in the desert before a feast of traditional food and drink cooked
according to old recipes. You will however have an air-conditioned tent, and after dining there is live
entertainment including a camel and caravan show, oud performances and tanoura dancing.
• Dh250, Sunday to Wednesday; Dhs270, Thursday to Saturday, children ages 5 to 12 half-price, sunset to 11pm; 04 809 6194; www.meydanhotels.com/babalshams