From a Turkish experience complete with whirling dervishes to Italian pizza and pasta and traditional Emirati cuisine, we round up 10 of the newer options for breaking the fast this coming Holy Month.
Ten of the slightly more unusual Iftars in the UAE this Ramadan
It's no secret that every hotel and restaurant in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will have their version of the "best" iftar to indulge in this Ramadan. To help you plan your evenings with aplomb, we round up 10 of the newer, or slightly more unusual, options for breaking the fast this coming Holy Month.
Rixos The Palm
Nestled at the bottom end of the east crescent of Palm Jumeirah, Rixos The Palm is marking its first Ramadan with three different iftars. Given the theme of the hotel, we think that the pick of the bunch is its offer of a "traditional Turkish Ramadan experience" complete with live semazen show (whirling dervishes have been flown over specially) and an authentic Turkish buffet.
The set iftar menu costs Dh250 and is served daily from sunset. Rixos The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, 04 457 5454, www.rixos.com
Pompeii Italian Restaurant and Cafe
For a less traditional iftar meal, Pompeii, the Italian trattoria in Jumeirah Lake Towers, is offering a Ramadan Showcase Menu from 7pm to 1am daily. The homely, three-course set menu features salads, soups and bread, hearty main courses (pizzas, pastas and stews) and Italian and Arab desserts, as well as juice and dried fruit.
For a convenient, no-fuss iftar meal, you can request the full menu to be delivered to your door (Dh55 per person) or choose to dine in (Dh65), where you'll be able to take advantage of the live pasta station.
Pompeii Italian Restaurant and Cafe, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, 04 453 9390, www.pompeiipizza.ae. Free delivery from 10am to midnight
Atlantis The Palm
There's no denying that the people at Atlantis know how to put on a show. If you're unfamiliar with Asateer, the hotel's lavish, purpose-built Ramadan tent, then note that it boasts eight majlis areas and each one is decked out with 46-inch plasma TV screens and PlayStations. New this year is a Royal Majlis reception area, a Ramadan shop selling various sweet and savoury gifts and an ouzi and hummus stand. Fans of last year's tahina fountain and traditional Arabian ice cream-making station will not be disappointed. There's also ample opportunity for playing chess, backgammon and card games.
Iftar is served from 6.30pm to 8pm and costs Dh175 per person (free for children under the age of three, Dh85 for children ages three to 12). An à la carte suhoor menu will be offered from 9.30pm-2.30am, with prices starting at Dh165 per person. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, 04 426 0800, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi and Dubai
If you're after something rather more sophisticated, Hakkasan Abu Dhabi's three-course Ramadan menu sounds delectable, which is just what we've come to expect from the high-end Chinese restaurant in Emirates Palace. Every evening from 7pm to 2am (last orders at 12am), the head chef Lee Kok Hua and his team will be serving dishes such as charcoal-grilled king prawns with Assam sauce, wild mushroom stir-fry with macadamia nuts and white chocolate mousse cake, priced at Dh248.
In Dubai, meanwhile, the Ramadan menu is noticeably less expensive (Dh188), the environs are almost as chic and you can order that much talked-about black cod, as well as sea bass shumai and Hakkamisu (a Cantonese take on Tiramisu).
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace, 02 690 7999. Hakkasan Dubai, 04 384 8484, www.facebook.com/hakkasanuae. Both restaurants will continue to serve their à la carte menu throughout Ramadan.
Monte-Carlo Beach Club
For a truly unique iftar, a trip to Le Deck, the stylish signature restaurant at the Monte-Carlo Beach Club on Saadiyat Island, is a must. The Emirati chef Khulood Atiq has worked closely with the hotel's executive chef Matthew Goodlet to produce a unique menu that includes Emirati dishes, which will be served tapas-style at the table.
Khulood says the meal, which begins with dates and laban, before moving on to mezze and main course tasting plates such as lamb therred, aishulaham with local hashwa and madrouba, is designed "to present traditional Emirati dishes, adapted in our own style, in addition to some special finger foods that have evolved from these traditional dishes". The meal will be rounded off with a selection of Arabian sweets made from local ingredients.
Iftar is priced at Dh219 per person and is available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from sunset until 9.30pm. Le Deck, Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 02 656 3500, www.montecarlobeachclub.ae
Dusit Residence Dubai Marina
If you're trying to avoid over indulging, then let us introduce you to 32 Marina Street Kitchen. In keeping with the Eat Well, Feel Well campaign that Dusit International launched earlier this year, this restaurant in the Dusit Residences, Dubai Marina, has decided to give traditional iftar dishes a healthy makeover.
In the interest of cutting fat and calories, it's opted to bake its fatayers and samosas, will be marinating shish taouk meat in low-fat yogurt and will only use lean cuts for its lamb with okra. Both Um Ali and crème brûlée remain on the dessert menu, but don't fear, they will be made using skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt.
The iftar buffet will be served from sundown until 9.30pm daily and costs Dh95 per person. Dusit Residence Dubai Marina, Dubai, 04 425 999, www.dusit.com/dusit-residence
Six Senses Zighy Bay
For something truly memorable, Six Senses Zighy Bay has designed a Beauty of Ramadan package. By day, guests are encouraged to relax under the date palms by their own private in-villa poolor visit the spa; at sunset, the Spice Market restaurant comes to life, offering family-style mezze, main courses and Omani desserts. The nearby suhoor majlis is kitted out with plush sofas and board games and will show Arabic and western films nightly from 11pm. There's also the option (at an additional cost) to take a suhoor dhow cruise where pastries, fresh juices and mezze can be enjoyed under the stars.
The Beauty of Ramadan package costs US$540 (Dh1,983) per night, based on two adults sharing and includes suhoor (served in your villa or at the Spice Market), iftar and access to the suhoor majlis. Six Senses Zighy Bay, Musandam Peninsula, Oman, +968 26 735 888, email@example.com
Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara
Iftar overlooking the mangroves sounds rather special. If you agree, then might we suggest a visit to the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, where at Ingredients restaurant, you can enjoy mezze, fresh juices, various Emirati dishes and Middle Eastern desserts with views of the lagoon. The executive chef Aztaj Eddoukani is said to have worked closely with his team - which includes Emirati chefs - to produce a Ramadan menu that combines traditional dishes and Emirati specialities.
After iftar, guests can then move outside to relax on the Pool Deck (with views of the mangroves and infinity pool), where shawarma and slow-roasted lamb will be served at live cooking stations, along with Arabian coffee, mint tea, shisha and live oud music.
Iftar at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, Abu Dhabi costs Dh175 per person. 02 656 1000, firstname.lastname@example.org
St Regis Saadiyat Island
We can't help thinking that suhoor in a specially designed beachfront tent, situated on the white sands of Saadiyat Island, would be a very relaxing experience. At the St Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi, you can do just that; enjoy shisha, the sea breeze, a special food and beverage menu and the sound of an oud and qanun player every night during Ramadan from 8pm until 2am. The St Regis is also offering an iftar buffet at the Mediterranean restaurant Orea, priced at Dh185 per person. There is a minimum spend of Dh100 in the suhoor tent, excluding service charge and tourism fee.
The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, 02 498 8888 or visit www.stregissaadiyatisland.com
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
For families and groups, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club seems to have things covered and is offering some pretty good deals, too. A four-course, set-menu meal at the seafood restaurant Aquarium costs Dh125 per person, with every fifth guest dining for free (offer valid for up to 40 people). Meanwhile, inside QD's air-conditioned Ramadan tent, you can feast on a Middle East-themed buffet (hot and cold mezze, main courses such as shish taouk and biryani, with Um Ali and kunafa for dessert) for Dh120 per person, with 10 per cent off the total bill if you book a table for 10 and 20 per cent off for 15 or more.
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, 04 295 6000, email@example.com