Pop-up restaurants, cultural sojourns, and fusion feasts…

We’re not going to lie, we love the heaving tables and sumptuous spreads of a five-star hotel iftar – it’s a quintessentially ‘Dubai’ experience. But sometimes we crave something a little bit different.

From the streets of Old Dubai, to a converted warehouse in Al Quoz, to the world’s most iconic cruise liner, here are seven unique iftars to try this Ramadan.

1. QE2

Here’s a history-making iftar for you. The world-famous QE2 cruise ship, which is now permanently anchored at Mina Rashid and recently opened as a hotel, is hosting its first floating iftar and suhoor. A purpose-built (and air-conditioned) majlis will be set up on the ship’s largest deck, housing an Arabic buffet including live cooking stations, traditional Emirati dishes, mezze, desserts and classic Ramadan juices. Alternatively, diners can enjoy iftar and suhoor inside Lido, the ship’s all-day dining restaurant.

QE2, Mina Rashid. Iftar daily from sunset to 9pm, suhoor daily 9pm to 1am. Iftar Dhs250 (Dhs125 for children under 12, free for children under 4), suhoor Dhs175 (Dhs85 for children under 12, free for children under 4). Tel: (04) 526 8888. More info on website.

2. Dubai Opera

The spectacular Dubai Opera iftar that sees the venue transformed into a banquet hall is back. This year Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera will be doing the catering, with special dishes including sustainable hamour prepared in shakshouka style, slow-cooked beef cheek, whole roast duck and chicken, salmon en croûte and a trio of changing biryanis. Arabic melodies will be performed live, and there will be a special pop-up market in the Dubai Opera foyer where you can shop for unique Ramadan gifts.

Dubai Opera, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Daily from sunset to 9.30pm. Dhs250 (50 per cent discount for children aged 6 to 11, free for children under 6). For reservations email ramadan@dubaiopera.com. More info on website.

3. Unseen Trails

Photo: Mohammed Somji

Love photography and want to capture the true spirit of Ramadan? Head along on the fantastic Old Dubai Iftar Walk, a joint venture between the folk from local tour company Frying Pan Adventures and Gulf Photo Plus. You’ll get to participate in a communal iftar with the locals on the streets of Old Dubai, which is an incredibly humbling experience – completely different to the heaving iftar buffets in Dubai’s five-star hotels. This year, Frying Pan Adventures is also hosting a Sharjah Cultural Iftar & Trail where you can learn more about the traditions of Ramadan from an Emirati guide.

Old Dubai Iftar Walk, Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, various dates, 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Dhs395. More info on website. Also Sharjah Cultural Iftar & Trail, Sharjah, various dates, 6pm to 9.30pm. Dhs250 (Dhs100 children under 12). More info on website.

Ramadan in Dubai: 100 iftars to try

4. Ramadan Nights by Dish

This unique pop-up iftar takes place in a beautifully decorated Al Quoz warehouse, and it’s definitely one for the foodies. Delicious sounding dishes on the menu include roasted garlic hummus, slow-braised lamb shoulder in Middle Eastern spices, corn-fed chicken koftas and cured seabass served with freekha tabbouleh. Wash it all down with freshly made lemon and mint or pomegranate spritz.

Dish, Warehouse Four, Al Quoz. Daily from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Dhs195. Tel: (056) 1283247. More info on website.

5. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

‘Open Doors, Open Minds’ is the brilliant SMCCU’s motto, and this is one iftar that everyone living in Dubai should experience. Held in the courtyard of a wind tower house in the atmospheric Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, your Emirati hosts will happily answer all your Ramadan questions once the fast is broken. After iftar, you’ll have the special opportunity to visit the Diwan Masjid (non-Muslims can only visit this mosque on a SMCCU tour).

Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, daily from 6.30pm. Dhs185 (half-price for children). Tel: (04) 3536666. More info on website

6. Open Tent at Alserkal Avenue

Open Tent is back for another year, and it’s an iftar and dinner concept combining Japanese and Arabic cuisine. This cross-cultural iftar, which is organised by Alserkal Avenue-based kimono shop/art space CHI-KA, blends contemporary minimalist Japanese decor and bonsai gardens with Arabic calligraphy murals and live oud. You’ll also find Dubai’s first Japanese bakery, Yamanote, offering its infamous selection of sweet treats.

Warehouse 46 (next to Nadi Al Quoz), Alserkal Avenue, iftar daily from sunset to 8.30pm, dinner from 8.30pm to 10pm. Dhs220 (Dhs85 children aged 5 to 10, free for children under 5). Tel: (056) 1802577. More info on website

7. Farzi Cafe

This modern Indian bistro in City Walk is a Sheikh Mohammed favourite, and they’re serving up a seriously creative iftar menu, also known as the ‘Farzified Iftar’. Standout dishes include curry leaf prawns served in a coconut shell, chicken tikka pockets, and country captain chicken pulao, but it’s the special crispy kunafa nest for dessert that we’re already eyeing up.

Farzi Cafe, City Walk, daily sittings at 7pm, 9pm or 11pm. Dhs130. Tel: (04) 394 2556. More info on website

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