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Ramadan 'business' booming in Dubai

world Updated: Sep 27, 2008 17:05 IST
AFP
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Restaurant and hotel owners in Dubai have been in hot competition during the fasting month of Ramadan to attract customers to "tents" for "Iftaar" that have proved a hit in the bustling Gulf emirate.

The menu is rich with Japanese sushi and Indian curry dishes complementing an assortment of Lebanese hors d'oeuvres.

"I didn't expect to do so well," said Ashok Subba, the tent's Indian manager.

"We are fully booked from iftar until suhur," the dawn meal preceding the start of the daily fast, he said, as a band prepared to play Arabic classics and waiters served the 300 guests of a leading property developer.

"Dubai has over the years become one of the most cosmopolitan places and I have an international clientele," said Rami Shehada, who runs one of around 35 Ramadan tents strewn across the city state.

"Ramadan sets the right atmosphere for our business and we take advantage of it," he said, adding that he was one of the first to bring the tents concept to the United Arab Emirates from places such as Egypt and Lebanon.

For Shehada and other restaurant managers, it is perfectly normal that the holy month should be yet another occasion to make money in a city driven by a business ethos and basking in ostentatious luxury.

Shehada's tent, set up in a park surrounded by new buildings, can hold up to 600 people for "iftar".

Customers pick and choose from an Oriental buffet and spend the evening with friends for around US$ 27 per head.