Dubai, March 11 (IANS) Why does one go to a beach? To relax or to check out water sports, perhaps. But this beach in Dubai has transformed into a dining and entertainment hot-spot with a line-up that includes celebrity chefs, home-grown restaurant concepts and fantastic family-friendly activities.
Set right on the beach behind Sunset Mall here, Etisalat Beach Canteen is the unmissable, free-to-attend Dubai Food Festival beach club, and there's no shortage of interactive experiences on offer for the whole family to enjoy. With about 30 food and drink stalls to choose from you won't go back home hungry for sure.
The first sight of the beach, decked up with a number of food stalls and stunning decorations, are enough to enchant you. It is then, as you walk further, that you see a festival kind of setting come alive before your eyes. Hundreds of men, women and children are walking all around like swarms of bees and the only thing in common between them is food.
People of different nationalities and identities engaging in this food fiesta is an overwhelming sight. You will spot a traditional Arab woman trying out some italian dish or a young American man ordering the authentic Emirati food.
The Indian briyani and pani puri are not behind too. Occupied at all hours, one literally has to stand in queues before ordering food from a small kiosk selling Indian dishes. The Indian cuisine is very popular in Dubai and is even served at many weddings and other occasions.
Food trucks, pop ups and the Al Islami Kitchen that offer almost every single dish one can think of, often make it a hard choice to choose your order.
Head to the El Cubano food truck and order El Cubano Sandwich. The Cuban sandwich is loaded with turkey and beef brisket smoked for eight hours. Served in crispy bread, it is topped with Swiss cheese, pickles and homemade mustard. There is a lot going on here between the two sides of your sandwich and your taste buds will thank you.
After stuffing yourself with far too many calories, proceed a few steps down to "Wild and the Moon" for a healthy recreation. It offers a range of organic cold-pressed juices along with organic smoothies, salads and snacks that are all made in-house. The Glow Gorgeous juice, made from beetroot, apple and pomegranate, is sweet, earthy and refreshing. Everything here is raw, plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free. One bottle of this juice rejuvenates you immediately.
Don't miss out on Meatballerz, which opened only in February in Dubai but has set up a pop-up stall at the Etisalat Beach Canteen. Dressed with all things yum, the Bloody Burger served here is just right if you are looking for an affordable lunch.
The other must-indulge in attraction here is the al fresco cinema. The place is littered with a number of bean bags and even thick rugs for you to stretch out on the sand. That is not all -- simply lie back and enjoy movies on a giant screen -- while eating the best delicacies from around the globe.
But what makes food such a big affair in Dubai? The city embraces more than 200 nationalities and the gastronomy sector continues to meet the demand in diversity.
"We wanted to create an open and affordable environment to encourage residents and visitors to eat out and experience the best of dining in this dazzling city. Food and beverage accounts for 20 per cent of the retail mix in Dubai -- a figure that increases year-on-year with the city now home to more than 16,000 food outlets, including international chains, locally-owned restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops," said Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commercial Marketing (DCTCM).
The 17-day-long celebration of diverse cuisine began on February 23 and will conclude on Saturday.
(Saket Suman was in Dubai at the invitation of Dubai Tourism. He can be contacted at email@example.com)