Things to do this week in the UAE, from food to literature

The Emirates becomes a global gastronomy hub dominated by events for foodies

Marble tuna bun, Dh40, by Reif Japanese Kushiyaki is being served at Taste of Dubai this week. Photo: Reif Japanese Kushiyaki
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This week, the UAE is turning into a bustling foodie hub, with world-renowned chefs descending on Abu Dhabi for a prestigious awards ceremony, as well as restaurants across Dubai offering some of their best dishes at the three-day Taste of Dubai.

Meanwhile, globally respected authors and literary figures also head to Dubai for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Here, The National rounds up seven things you can do from January 30 to February 5.


At Reel Palestine, a film festival and programme of events running until February 5 at Alserkal Avenue, the film Alam is showing this Monday, with an invite-only question-and-answer session with director Firas Khoury at 7pm.

The drama, which is in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles, follows Tamer and his friends as they lead the typical lives of Palestinian students — until Maysaa arrives. In order to impress her, Tamer agrees to take part in a mysterious operation on the eve of Israel's Independence Day.

More information is at


BBQ Al Qasr at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is hosting Sydney chef Lennox Hastie for a special seven-course dinner.

The grill master behind famed Australian restaurant Firedoor, Hastie will serve his signature 200-day dry-aged beef ribs, paperbark-grilled fish, and smoky crab and corn over open fire.


Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns to Dubai this week. The line-up includes, from left, authors Mohsin Hamid, Cecelia Ahern and comedian David Walliams. Photo: Emirates Airline Festival / Getty

The weeklong Emirates Airline Festival of Literature kicks off on Wednesday, celebrating its 15th anniversary. Regional and international award-winning authors, as well as celebrities, are expected to attend.

Celebrated authors attending include British-Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, known for his critically acclaimed novels The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West, and Irish author Cecelia Ahern, known for her novels PS, I Love You and Where Rainbows End.

From Hollywood, Emmy Award-winning actor Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy on HBO’s hit series Succession, will be in attendance.

More information on authors and the programme is available at


Catch the last few days of the Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi. More than 150 artworks — from paintings to photographs and dresses — are on display.

The free-entry exhibition explores the new world emerging between the mid-1850s and the end of the 19th century. It is organised in partnership with Musee d’Orsay and France Museums.

It is open from 10am to 5pm and ends on February 5.


On Friday, it is the grand public opening of London's Michelin-starred City Social restaurant in Dubai. The fine-dining venue, at Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina, is the brainchild of British celebrity chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, who owns more than 15 restaurants across the globe.

City Social offers modern-European cuisine with stunning floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the Dubai skyline. On the menu are Scottish salmon, ravioli of shellfish and roasted sea bass, among other creations by Atherton.

The venue is open every Monday to Saturday. On Fridays, it's open from 5pm to 3am.


Head to Dubai Media City Amphitheatre for Taste of Dubai. The open-air food festival is playing host to a number of restaurants across the emirate, to serve some of their best dishes at discounted prices.

Among the participating restaurants are 11 Woodfire, Akira Back, Brasserie Boulud, Bushra by Buddha-Bar, Carnival by Tresind and Fi'lia.

The event, which runs from Friday until Sunday, will also include a range of masterclasses hosted by celebrity chefs, a music and entertainment line-up and a new Taste of Hilton farm-to-table pop-up.


The new Ukrainian restaurant Yoy, on the Palm Jumeirah, is hosting celebrated chef Yurii Kovryzhenko for a one-off dining experience that runs on Saturday and Sunday.

The exclusive menu will feature "Heston-style" dishes, including a tender jellied oxtail served like a lollipop, roasted duck in apple and cranberry sauce, and herring paté with caviar in a crispy waffle covered with edible flowers.

The five-course dinner is served from 6pm for Dh400 (not inclusive of drinks) per person.

Updated: January 30, 2023, 4:01 AM