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Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai: Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa

A sweet scent of flowers perfumes the night air. Beneath the stillness of palm trees, we relax on comfortable sofas under majlis-style tents that make up the outdoor dining area of Al Khaima Restaurant, one of the fourteen dining establishments belonging to Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa in Dubai.

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Al Khaima Restaurant*

Al Khaima means ‘the tent’, and the restaurant’s beachside location is much like a welcome oasis. The darkening indigo sky is a reminder that the desert heat will soon abate.

The hip-swinging rhythms of live Arabic tunes transport me to past travels across Lebanon and Syria where music plays an integral part of the dining experience. The jet lag on from the 14 hour flight to the Emirati city dissipates the moment we meet with my expat relatives, last seen at the family reunion at La Rochelle and afterwards in Paris.

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Lebanese Mezze and Arak

Glasses of Arak, the aniseed-based spirit, are raised to family, and we order a feast of mezzehs and Arabic grills. The food here is predominately of Lebanese origin. We tuck into plates of hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghannouj, fattoush, labneh, marinated olives, sambousak and the spicy shanklish.

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
front to back: shanklish, hummus, baba ghannouj

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Sambousak (pastries) and Baba Ghannouj (eggplant dip)

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Hummus (chick pea dip)

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Shanklish (aged and dried cow’s or goat’s milk cheese served with tomato and olive oil)

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Tabbouleh

Al Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Shish Tawook (chicken)

Plates of mixed grills arrive with Shish Tawook (grilled chicken), skewered lamb and other meats. Family-centred conversations take precedence over food and photography, almost forgetting to eat at times. Under the moonlight in Dubai, I am content sipping Arak and reconnecting with family.

Al Khaima Restaurant DubaiAl Khaima Restaurant Dubai
Shisha pipe – Under Al Khaima

After the last of the plates is cleared, we lounge under the comforts of Al Khaima (the tent) and smoke a ‘double apple’ shisha pipe. The flavour is fruity and intense, almost devoid of a tobacco aftertaste.

In the late hours of the evening, the heat of the desert feels like a warm breath against the skin. On this first night in Dubai, I look up at the starry sky and feel the pull. I am under the gaze of the Full Moon.

Al Khaima Restaurant
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa
Jumeirah Beach Road
Dubai UAE
http://www.leroyalmeridien-dubai.com/

* Photo credit: Al Khaima

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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

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