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Top Middle Eastern Destinations for the Culinary-Curious



The Middle East offers endless activities both locals and tourists can take part in. It never runs out of places and events that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age, culture, religion, and interests.

If you are one of the “culinary-curious” individuals looking for unique adventures in this region, here is a list of some of the activities and events you don’t want to miss.

1. Sign up for a Dubai desert safari

A desert safari is a must-try experience in Dubai. From desert camps to sand dunes, camel rides to authentic Arabian food, there are plenty of activities you can enjoy in the Dubai desert. Also, you can explore different locations around the emirate.

Apart from the safari itself, this activity includes various traditional activities, like the sumptuous buffet dinner. As the night starts to set in, indulge in a delectable dinner buffet while the most graceful belly dancers entertain you.  

The desert safari tour often begins at your hotel where you will be picked up and transported to the desert surrounding Dubai. Once at the desert, you will be swamped with lots of activities. Food enthusiasts like you should make sure to explore what adventures both the morning and evening desert safari tour have in store.

2. Dine on the sand at Fish Beach Taverna

This is an open-air dining area where the seating is set up on the grassy area, just in front of the restaurant, spilling out towards the beach. It has all whitewashed walls, beach-chic fixtures, and numerous shades of blue. You have to take off your shoes, let your toes sink into the sand, and sit on one of the cushions strategically placed over the floor.

In addition to its unique ambiance, the food here is Aegean-inspired. It is perfectly suited for the location and vibe. Try their freshly grilled fish and combine it with their tiger prawns with garlic and chili, or perhaps the octopus that is drizzled with thyme and olive oil. The best time to go here is from late afternoon to evening.

3. Participate in the Frying Pan Adventures

Founded by Arva Ahmed, a local food blogger, the Frying Pan Adventures offers walking and eating tours in the UAE. She takes travelers, especially the foodies, on a night tour of the Deira area of Dubai, making a stop at all of the dining establishments offering local Dubai menus. This includes a Lebanese bakery, a Palestinian restaurant, a Syrian fast food joint that offers pistachio ice cream, a Yemeni restaurant offering rice and meat stews, an Egyptian store offering a one-of-a-kind pizza, and an Iranian eatery offering fresh bread and minced meat kebabs.

Don’t miss the Arabian Summer Saga, a Middle Eastern evening tour held during the summer months that last for four hours. It includes visits to four cafes and restaurants in an air-conditioned shuttle bus. Get to enjoy the Emirati lamb stew, Iraqi wood-fire fish, and the best Palestinian stuffed falafels. You can also check out other food tours in the city during different times of the year.

4. Learn to prepare Emirati food at Aseelah Restaurant

Learn more about Emirati food and cooking techniques by participating in the Emirati cooking classes at Aseelah Restaurant. This restaurant at the Radisson Blu Deira Creek lets you listen, watch, learn, slice, taste and assist with cooking traditional dishes – with chef Rabeh Amer guiding you.

Afterwards, you get to have a lunch that features both the modern and traditional Emirati dishes. Expect to leave the restaurant with a full stomach and lots of brand-new knowledge, along with a supply of the restaurant’s signature spice blend and recipe cards. This means you can cook Emirati food once you go back home so your family and friends can get a taste of authentic Emirati dishes, too.

5. Join a cooking course vacation in Jordan

The cooking class at Amman Parsha Hotel in Jordan is an excellent way to learn more about the Jordanian culture. This includes two hands-on cooking classes where you can prepare up to four dishes at each class that lasts for 4-6 hours. You have the chance to choose from a wide range of excellent dishes to learn and enjoy cooking yourself. Also, you can enjoy an authentic Jordanian breakfast at the café to start your day.  

6. Book dhow cruises in Dubai

A dhow cruise is an activity you should not miss in Dubai. A dhow is a traditional vessel made from wood but equipped with modern amenities. This is one of the best and unique ways to explore the emirate.

Today, you have two options – a dhow cruise in the Dubai Creek or the Marina. Both dinner cruises offer services that include a sumptuous dinner buffet, beverages, and entertainment activities.

The dhow cruise in Marina is an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world. This is a floating restaurant that travels across gorgeous tall buildings and Venetian canals. Be awed by the view of the sunset from the dhow as you enjoy great food at the cruise.

From dining on the beach, to enjoying evening picnics in the desert, to joining cooking classes, to indulging in dhow cruises, food enthusiasts certainly have much to look forward to in the Middle East. Make sure to book these culinary adventures in advance to guarantee a superb, memorable experience.

Hafiz Umer Ali Zaib is the Social Media Specialist at Luxury Tours, a leading provider of tours, cruises and safaris across the UAE. The company’s top offerings include the Dubai Desert Evening Safari, City Tours, Dhow Cruises, Mountain Tours, Limousine Service, Discounted Tickets for theme parks and a variety of many other excursions.