AlUla’s vibrant culinary scene ranges from fine dining at A-list-run restaurants to sipping spiced Arabic coffee and dining on authentic meze at a local café. In AlUla you can always be sure you’re tasting the fruits of this ancient oasis, with sweet dates and citrus fruit drinks offered everywhere you go.
Saudi hospitality is legendary and nowhere is better versed in it than the ancient nomad station of AlUla. In Middle Eastern culture lunch is the main meal of the day but you’ll find every meal is very generously sized.
The aim is for the guest never to go hungry so to show you’re satisfied, make sure you leave a little on your plate – or it will keep coming.
Arabic coffee, or qahwa, as it’s known here, is the first thing offered to every guest and is poured from an ornate metal dallah into tiny cups. The light coloured but rich tasting coffee is very different to western blends, as the beans are infused with spices.
Since the Kingdom is dry, juices and mocktails take centre stage. One of the most popular drinks in Saudi is fresh lemon and mint juice, often a vivid green colour.
If you really want to blend in with the locals then order a Saudi Champagne, a refreshing mix of apple juice and sparkling water garnished with slices of fruit and mint.
There are plenty of places in AlUla to taste the local cuisine. Suhail Old Town offers a high-end experience, serving traditional dishes like lamb kabsah, a rice dish seasoned with Saudi spices.
SWEET AS CAN BE
Saudis have a sweet tooth and you’ll find an impressive selection of bakeries and dessert parlours in AlUla. The popular Pink Camel Pastry Boutique is surrounded by swaying date palms and citrus groves. It serves breakfast classics and sandwiches along with desserts ranging from pistachio pastries to lemon sesame cake.
AlUla’s most in-demand restaurant is Maraya Social, which sits on the roof of the world’s largest mirrored building and is operated by British chef Jason Atherton who has Michelinstar restaurants all around the world. It’s open for dinner between Wednesday and Saturday, and serves up creative quintessentially English dishes using produce sourced from AlUla’s many farms on its al fresco terrace.
To sample the local cuisine, suggest Tawlet Fayza, which opened in February 2023. Located on AlJadidah, adjoining the oasis, the restaurant offers farm-to-table organic food inspired by the founder’s grandmother who is originally from the area, with an evolving menu and some communal tables – ideal for food talk and meeting new friends. Nearby in the Oasis is Somewhere, fusing Arabian and Mediterranean flavours. Dine on towers of beetroot rice, wagyu baos and kale tabouli salad surrounded by the towering palms of an Oasis farm.
Further afield, Tama at Habitas infuses global & Middle Eastern cuisines, using local ingredients and spices once traded along the incense route to create an immersive culinary journey.
There are many pop-ups and seasonal eateries so always research the options before your client departs.
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