One cannot find traditional Arabic sweets just like that, not on every corner of Dubai anyway. Maybe in industrial packages, those that could be bought in supermarkets. Or if you perhaps peek into restaurants’ menus.

Luckily, I have stumbled upon a handmade sweets store in modern Dubai Marina district with a variety of desserts – cheese and nuts wrapped into kadaif, in all shapes and sizes, still warm, and sugar syrup pouring down from the soaked crunchy noodles… Real Arabic knafeh, as I remember it from the Middle East in 2008. Back then, when ever I was going home back to Serbia, I would have always brought a kilo of knafeh with me!


Arabic restaurant in Khan Murjan mall

Anyway, I smiled to the Asian guy behind the glass case and told him that I would like a half of a kilo of “those in the corner”.

The guy nods, smiles widely, points to one of the enormous tin trays and says: “This one?”

“Yes, please”, I say, but cannot leave out to ask about the difference between those and the ones right next to them, which also allured all fresh and delicious. The guy looks confused with a smile that gets stuck to his face.

Oh well, I have smiled again, tried to collect couple of Arabic words from the back of my brains into the same sentence, in case he doesn’t understand English… But – he just looks at me, doesn’t even blink. Although, still smiling. All of a sudden, nervously pointing out to that same big tin tray “in the corner”, he says it again: “This one?!”

True, it is not his fault that he doesn’t speak English – well enough, and Arabic – not at all. After all, he is from Philippines and his native language is – none of the above, and he just came here to earn some money, poor guy. And the fact that he sells Arabic traditional sweets? Oh well, that is a glimpse of a real Dubai for you!

P.S. And by the way, those knafeh were delicious!


The full Dubai SERIES





0 comments on “Dubai: ARABIC SWEETS, LOST IN TRANSLATION (7)

  1. My mouth is watering. I have a massive sweet tooth. Knafeh sound amazing. When I visited Dubai in 2006, I had a very lovely Indian taxi driver. He explained to me, he came he to earn better money for his family and he sends it home to them. He didn’t see his family that often either. It is incredible what one will do for his or her family to try and get ahead. I feel for them and their family not being together.

    1. Of course, and they are usually underpaid. On the other hand, hardworking, extremely lovely, always smiling. The situation here, however, was more of a comic one. It crossed my mind than: I’m from Serbia, he was from Philippines, and how would I ask for those sweets if neither one of us spoke either English or Arabic? 😀 Just pointing at stuff?! 😀

  2. Sign language will only get you so far in situations like these. Happy to hear the ‘knafeh’ was great anyway. I have never had it, so I’ll have to try it sometime.

  3. This is the place for me. You see I have a big sweet tooth and I just love to get my hands on them. I am sure the Arab sweets would have a lot of dates and such. Who wants to know the name any 🙂 🙂

  4. That is one of the most interesting things about travel- meeting people from across the globe. This adds more flavor to the place you are visiting, it is a mixture of different cultures. By the way, need to try knafeh when I visit Dubai!

    1. If you go to some other Arab country before that, try it there, since it’s a bit hard to find knafeh in Dubai. 😉 Thanks, I agree, that’s the beauty of it all!

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