x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ask Ali: A traditional dish to welcome Emirati guests

Ali Alsaloom on how to prepare a simple, traditional beverage and who can wear the national dress.

Dear Ali: I would like to impress my Emirati guests by making a local dish, something that is not too complicated. What would you suggest? JA, UK

Dear JA: Here is a simple recipe for tasty zaatar with milk, a drink you can serve before or after lunch. This beverage is quite like our version of hot chocolate - except that it has no chocolate! It's delicious, nutritious and feels like a big fat hug. What we do is keep it in an insulated jug, and whenever our guests want some they can help themselves.

Ingredients: cup thyme, 1 litre fresh milk, saffron to taste, cup honey.

Method: Wash the thyme and drain. In a pot, add all the milk, thyme and saffron and let simmer over low heat for the flavours to combine. Bring to a boil and then add the honey and stir. Pour into a jug and serve.


Dear Ali: I appreciate your work to help expatriates get to know Islam and the Arab world in general. What would the reaction be if an expatriate wore UAE national dress? Is there even a law against it? ZH, Abu Dhabi

Dear ZH: While there are no laws dictating who can and can't wear our national dress, it all depends on how you would act while dressed as an Emirati.

Another concern is where you would go and what you would do.

As you probably have noticed, there are some Muslim Indians, Pakistanis and Egyptians and other who wear UAE national dress to attend a Friday prayer. That's perfectly acceptable and makes it clear that, in a legal sense, this issue is not a problem.

But the head gear - such as the ghutra, the agal and the hamdaneyah, all distinctly national dress - is customarily restricted to only Emiratis. In any case, your place of work may not accept an expat wearing national dress or your friends might find it odd, so consider these things before deciding what's appropriate.


Dear Ali: Does the UAE have any private business clubs? I always like to impress my clients as it is important for my business. I’d appreciate it if you can suggest some. AM, Dubai

Dear A?M: Ah, business clubs, I love them, but don’t get the chance to go as often I’d like. I’ve enjoyed, especially in the winter, The Capital Club. It has got to be one of Dubai’s best kept secrets. It is located on one of the top floors in Dubai International Financial Centre’s Gate Village. There are vast, elegant lounges that are breathtaking, and private dining rooms with a choice of Arabic, Indian and Japanese cuisine. Of course a business club is not complete without a cigar room. The place also comes equipped with a library, a games room, a wellness centre, four bedrooms and dedicated club cars. And the ambience is nothing short of amazing.


Language lesson

Arabic: Nadi

English: Club

Usually you have to be specific about which club you are going to because there are many different types. “Nadi Al Riyadha” means sports club or the gym, “Nadi Al Furoosiya” means the equestrian club.