A Guide to Traditional Arabic Drinks
Heritage & Culture
You may already be familiar with Arabic coffee, known as ‘qahwa’ – a rich, strong blend with a serious caffeine kick – but there are many more Middle Eastern beverages that deserve your attention.
A guide to traditional Arabic drinks that you’ll love
Raise a toast to Arabian taste
In a city where coffee is a mark of hospitality, sampling some jellab or a camel milk cappuccino is a quintessential part of tasting local flavours and the local heritage. Tempt your tastebuds by this array of Arabian drinks that are both unique and refreshing.
The scent of rich, strong Arabic coffee, or gahwa (also spelt ‘qahwa’) follows you as you walk the streets of Dubai. A symbol of Arabian hospitality, gahwa is typically spiced and ceremonial. It is poured from a classical Arabian coffee pot [called a dallah], and served in small cups without handles, usually alongside a platter of fresh dates.
While coffee is the reigning king of drinks in Arabia, tea has gained immense popularity in the form of karak chai. Karak is derived from the word ‘kadak’ which means strong in Hindi. A legacy of the UAE’s long-standing trade and cultural relationship with India, this fragrant, spiced drink can be enjoyed in nearly any cafe in the city.
Jellab and qamardeen
Among the many things Dubai is famous for is sunshine, and that means most beverages are enjoyed cold. A classic Arabic drink is the jellab, a blend of grape molasses and rose water, topped with pine nuts and raisins. It’s a popular drink during Ramadan, as is qamardeen, a thick apricot drink.
A drink made by combining soaked, crushed tamarind with water, sugar and lemon juice. Tamar Hindi is perfectly sweet with a tangy kick, and was traditionally served across the Levant by travelling peddlers.
Laban and ayran
Healthy enough to feature in diet plans, laban is a cooling buttermilk drink, ubiquitous in the Middle East and easy to find in any supermarket. Iced and salted Ayran is another simple yoghurt based drink of the region.
While not strictly an Arabic drink, lemonade infused with cooling mint aids digestion and relieves heartburn. And after a day of basking in the sun there’s no better way to cool down.
Drinks with an Arabian twist
Milkshakes sweetened by dates, camel milk smoothies and cappuccinos have found their place on the contemporary menus of Dubai. Try these local favourites at one of the many quaint cafes and teahouses around Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, such as the popular Arabian Tea House and XVA Gallery and Café.
Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing