Just after the sun had set on a warm weekday evening, I pulled open the doors to the huge Iftar tent, at the AL Wahda Millennium Hotel. Iftars are one of the best things about Ramadan (the Holy Month). For those that are not familiar, an Iftar is the evening meal (just after sundown) during which you break the daily fast. And many places around Abu Dhabi compete to offer the best and most beautiful Iftar meals. They set up large tents, that actually don't feel or look like tents at all, which aim to create an atmosphere where people can eat, relax and be thankful with their friends and family.
As we opened the doors we were immediately greeted by hotel staff, wishing us "Ramadan Kareem" or "Generous Ramadan" and offering us dates, yogurt drinks and freshly squeezed juices (all recommended to help quickly return your blood sugar to its normal state). The mood was calm, yet festive as the guitarist played a warm Middle-Eastern style melody. Hungry people filed in with smiles, accepting a drink and some dried fruit or nuts before sitting at any of the white-tablecloth covered tables.
This tent was rather large as compared to some tents, and in addition to featuring traditional foods, there were displays from each of the hotel's well known restaurants.
There was an Italian section with meat, cheeses, foie gras and a carved out parmigian cheese wheel filled with mushroom risotto.
Amazingly there was also lots of beautiful sushi, with bright, fresh sashimi, and oysters!
And numerous displays of freshly cracked shellfish, canapes, and all of my Mid-East favorites from hummus and moutabel (eggplant) to shawerma.
The dessert area was practically a room of its own with cakes, puddings, mousses and traditional specialties.
There was dinner, and music and the popular Shisha (flavored tobacco pipe)...all clearly emitting the wealth of the region and the generous hospitality of the Middle East. Since Ramadan lasts a full month, (and this year it is during the height of the Summer heat), the days become long and challenging for those fasting. However, with Iftars this plentiful, there is at least a wonderful way to celebrate with each sunset.
Grand Millenium Hotel- Al Wahda
Hazza Bin Zayed Street
(02 443 9999)