Iftar review: An unforgettable multi-restaurant Ramadan dining experience in Abu Dhabi

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr presents the finest traditional flavours of Arabia and beyond set against mesmerising views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

By Harriet Shephard

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Published: Wed 22 Mar 2023, 6:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Mar 2023, 6:08 PM

Once you’ve lived in the UAE for a couple of years, many of the hotel iftars start to blend into one luxurious blur. After all, they’re all amazingly lavish, impressive and offer more options than you could possibly ever try.

So, it takes something special to make us sit up and take notice, and we’re happy to say that the iftar preview at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr did just that.


Offering iconic views of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Grand Canal, the destination’s ‘Al Andalus’ Ramadan iftar has been running for many years.

This year, Middle Eastern hotspot Mazaj Bab Al Bahr, Marco’s Italian and international restaurant CuiScene have joined forces to host an immeasurably long iftar buffet filled with a mix of Arabic, Italian and global delights.


Our preview focuses on just Mazaj Bab Al Bahr, but that alone is more than enough to win us over.

Warm and cosy, the dining room is tastefully adorned with lush greenery and quirky antiques that give it a modern-yet-retro feel.

Despite the sophisticated and elegant surroundings, it doesn’t feel overly formal or stuffy. The iftar is a laid back, relaxed and very family-friendly, and the staff are all welcoming and efficient.

As soon as we glimpse the extraordinary array of creative and colourful mezze, we quickly realise that we are in for a truly magnificent feast.

Bringing a contemporary twist to some of Arabia’s finest dishes, we can’t get enough of the creamy hummus, smokey moutabel, innovative labneh varieties, fresh and crunchy fattoush, crispy saj breads, homemade soups and the many other Middle Eastern favourites.

But what we really love are all the Turkish dishes, including many that we have never tried before.

We gobble up the bite-sized pieces of irresistible beyti kebab, filled with juicy meat and artistically presented on a thick yoghurt sauce. The beef menti dumplings are the ultimate comfort food, while the various Turkish salads stop it all from becoming too heavy.

Moving from Turkey to Lebanon, the mains include everyone’s favourite Levantine grills, spanning shish tawouk, beef kafta, arayes, fresh seafood and more.

Providing a spectacular tribute to the unique history and heritage of the seven emirates, we also sample heart-warming Emirati specialties such as beautifully aromatic chicken thareed, whole stuffed chicken ouzi and thick and decadent lamb harees served with fragrant rice.

Everything is expertly made, skillfully seasoned and presented with just enough flair and style; it’s photo-worthy, but not unnecessarily opulent.

However, despite how brilliant the mains and starters are, we implore you to save room for dessert. We go back for seconds of the most utterly delicious umm ali we’ve ever tasted, and we’ll be reminiscing about the smooth and decadent cheesecake for weeks.

Finished off with a playful cup of Arabic coffee, it’s a superb evening all round.

Head chef Ayoub Makdissi and his talented team deserve a very big round of applause.

Dh285 per person, including water and Ramdan beverages. Daily throughout Ramadan, from sunset to 10pm


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