|The giving and receiving of hospitality is an
important part of Arab and Bedouin culture. At mealtimes, guests may be
invited to join in the traditional mansaf of whole lamb and spiced
rice. The meal is laid out on trays and people help themselves from the
trays. Arabic coffee, known as ghawah, is served after the meal.
Reception rooms where meals are eaten are known as majlis. Majlis are reserved for celebrating special occasions or entertaining important guests. These rooms are spacious, decorated with carpets and cushions. The majlis of ruling sheikhs are exotically furnished and are open to all on special days.
|Before meals a mezze, or appetizer, is
served. The most famous mezze dish is hummus, a puree of
spices and chickpeas. Another popular dish is tabbouleh, a salad
of cracked wheat and parsley with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and olive
oil. Vine leaves stuffed with rice are also widely enjoyed.
The large population of immigrant northern Arabs have made Lebanese cooking popular. Indian and Pakistani as well as Oriental dishes are also well known. Western-style fast foods have also become popular.
Every imaginable spice can be found in the spice streets known as atarinehs of UAE's markets. Spices are sold in paper cones called dukkahs. One of the most popular mixtures is made up of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and paprika. Other popular ingredients in Emirati cuisine include sesame oil, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds and parsley.
|Coffee is an important part of Arab hospitality.
It is served black, without sugar, and is usually flavoured with cardamom
or cloves. Arab coffee is served everywhere, from the feasts of the ruler
to the smallest shop or office. In the old days, coffeehouses were the
main meeting places in the Gulf. As well as coffee, they offered the traditional
smoking pot known as the gaduo.
Emiratis do not eat pork or drink alcohol, as both are forbidden by the Muslim religion. Also, during the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast during the daylight hours. Except during Ramadan, alcohol is available only in hotels and restaurants. Foreigners who wish to buy it for private consumption at home must apply for a licence.