How expats can have a healthy diet in Dubai

Dubai spicesDubai’s flourishing international status as an expat – not to mention tourist – hotspot means that healthy eating is on the rise, with vegetarian restaurants, vegan cafés, organic food stores and healthy food delivery services operating across the city. If you are thinking of moving to Dubai, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Popular types of food and drink

Dubai’s exciting multicultural food scene reflects the fact that the majority of the country’s population is made up of expats from India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the UK, the US, China, Canada and more. Emirati cuisine typically consists of staples such as dates, fish, camel, “al jabab” (a type of flatbread), and rice-based dishes like “maqluba” and “shuwaa” – which offer plenty of protein, fiber and carbohydrates. However, expats might want to accompany these with fresh vegetables, salad and fruit for a more balanced diet. Fruit and veg markets, organic food stores and large supermarkets stock both regionally grown and international produce.

A classic Emirati dish that expats can try is “ryoog yerana”, which is a date omelet served with bread and “haleed kastar” (a drink made with custard and red seeds). Another delicacy is camel stuffed with eggs and spices, as well as chicken, fish or lamb.

Coffee is integral to Arab culture, and camel milk cappuccinos are popular with locals, but healthier drinks include “jellab” (made from grape molasses, rose water, pine nuts and raisins) and “tamar hindi” (which is tamarind, water, sugar and lemon). Arabic coffee is served in strong, short measures and often accompanied by sweet dates.

Arab eating customs and habits

In Dubai, as in the whole of the UAE, eating is a social event. The culture is founded on principles of hospitality and charity. As such, meals are generally long, and are fairly formal in nature. Expats may like to take their lead from locals in terms of appropriate dinner dress, which could mean choosing to adopt traditional Emirati dress or more formal Western attire. While some food is eaten using a knife and fork, some is eaten with the right hand (the left hand is never used, as it is considered unclean, and is often not even placed on the table). Expats may like to keep their feet on the floor while dining, rather than crossing their legs, as showing the soles of your feet or shoes is highly offensive in Islamic cultures.

Food and drink events and festivals

The Dubai Food Festival is an annual destination event for a lot of culinary enthusiasts, with celebrity chefs and events showcasing the best that Dubai has to offer, and celebrating the city’s gastronomic growth. Expats can try both authentic Emirati cuisine and international dishes. This can also be a good opportunity for expats to explore the local culinary scene and discover healthy new dishes.

Arab cooking styles and ingredients

Traditional Emirati cuisine consists of a lot of stews served with rice. The meat and vegetables are usually cooked in a pot (with spices like saffron, turmeric, cardamom and thyme used to flavor the food). Expats may find the food to have an underlying sweetness and fragrant aroma that they are not used to in Western food. Dessert usually consists of food that has been deep-fried and glazed with honey or syrup, and some western palates can find this overly sweet or perhaps a little greasier than western styles of dessert.

Practical considerations

In terms of the cost of eating, Dubai is a city of two halves. Expats can dine at lavish Arab restaurants serving up expensive dishes like pink diamond oysters, or try out hidden street food vendors selling low-cost food such as Pakistani staples and Szechwan specialties.

Another practical consideration is that most Arabs are Muslim, so they do not drink alcohol: as such, expats should refrain from drinking or being intoxicated in public (as part of a healthy diet, alcohol can be consumed in moderation). Also, during Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, so it is impolite to eat or drink in front of them during these times.

Common issues expats face with food and drink in Dubai

Dubai’s economic development and international status mean that hygiene standards are generally high, so food poisoning is not usually an issue. However, a lot of expats can suffer digestive problems when they first move to Dubai, due to the change in diet.

The large population of English-speaking expats in the city means that you should not have any problem understanding the names and nutritional value of foods or ingredients, as most wrappers and menus are written in both Arabic and English.

Food and drink for expats with health conditions

A lot of dishes and drinks are served with nuts and seeds in Dubai, often without these being listed on the menu, so expats with allergies may want to make sure they take medication with them before entering the country.

Expats with asthma who are moving to Dubai, need to be aware that their condition may be exacerbated by a new diet. Reducing their intake of red meat and dairy products may help alleviate their symptoms. Expats with asthma may also like to have international health insurance in place, and carry the necessary medication, so that they can receive timely medical care. It’s also worth noting that Dubai’s dust storms can whip up sand and other fine particles into the air which may of course affect people with asthma.

Summary

Dubai is becoming an international gastronomic hotspot, with dishes from all around the world influencing its cuisine, so expats should be able to stay healthy and enjoy a balanced diet. There are a few customs and traditions to learn before visiting, although the large number of expats living in Dubai means that many native residents will likely make small allowances for newcomers. The country’s status as a global destination offers expats a lot of choice when it comes to cuisine, so there is usually plenty of choice for travelers with special dietary needs or specific tastes.

 


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Nice to meet you

Article by Dr. Mark Ritzen

 

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Meeting other people is a very common, and for our mental health important part of our daily life; Meeting others can ensure us to be part of a group, which gives us the feeling of being accepted, protected, integrated. Furthermore, meeting others can help us fulfill some of the intentions or plans we have in life; Here, a meeting gives us the feeling of opportunity. Last but not least, a meeting can help us to develop ourselves in all possible ways : by meeting people we learn about the existence of other values, lifestyles, ideas, convictions, intentions, etc. and might enrich ourselves with this. By learning about other ideas, intentions, believes , we can reflect more profoundly about ourselves, put things in perspective and place ourselves better in the complex and fascinating heterogecity of being human.

The other person we meet presents us a rich diversity of individual characteristics that are the result of his genes (nature), as well as his education and life experiences (nurture).

Some examples of the many characteristics that define a person are his sex, weight, size, personality, temperament, interests, know-how, intentions, social intelligence, strengths, weaknesses, desires and worries, and of course we can define many many more.

When two persons meet, two different worlds of individual characteristics are voluntarily or involuntarily confronted with each-other ; this can be a very enriching, never-ending process of dialoging/ experiencing/ discovering. It can also be a challenge to adapt oneself to avoid greater discomfort.

Fortunately, during most of our meetings we are rather pragmatic ; during a meeting, we reduce the complexity of the other to those dimensions that are important to us in the given specific situation. That might for example be a specific know-how (for example if we consult a lawyer), or a shared interest/ habit (like religion, to reassure us being part of a group).

Knowing all this, we can imagine that meeting others is a very complex event for the brain that is accompanied by differentiated and precise perceptions, priorisations, interpretations, curiosity, expectations, hopes, fears, desires : We try to estimate/ inventorying the other’s individual characteristics, especially those, that are important to us in a given situation; In the meantime we have to reflect about/ look at/ eventually re-define our own characteristics ; furthermore, we have have to estimate the chance to reach our goals with the available/ detected ressources in ourself and in the person we meet. Finally we have to develop or adapt a strategy to reach (if defined already) our goals.

Meeting others is necessary for our mental health ; on the other hand it is a very complex challenge for the brain. Therefor, If the brain is affected by a a psychiatric illness it might have difficulties to manage all the necessary processes in order to have a « good meeting »; as a result, many psychiatric patients don’t feel at ease with other people and tend to isolate themselves, to draw themselves back from society. Meeting others is so important to experience happiness ; Without it, how can we feel ourselves accepted, wanted and integrated ?

Exactly here I think that society (that means everyone) can really help people, suffering from psychiatric problems. By being sensitive, tolerant, inviting and supportive, especially to those who have a risk to loose connection to society ; By doing this, society has an opportunity enrich itself, by rediscovering other values than competition, power and wealth-related successfulness, by reactivating ressources as patience, observation, fascination, compassion, heterogenicity and flexibility.

 

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Dr. Mark Ritzen – Psychiatrist in Luxembourg.

Visit his Medihoo profile HERE

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We share the belief of many that 3D printing will revolutionize the medical world!

Once in a while we publish on our blog interesting TED talks.

We think this one is also worth sharing.

The surgeon Anthony Atala tells about the printing of a human kidney. What is special about this video is that it is not only the specialist speaking but also the patient shares his experience.

We are exited about what the future will bring and hope through new technologies as 3D printing there will be less suffering.

Enjoy watching the video

 

 

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