You'll be starstruck

This June, Dubai’s gastronomic glitterati will convene for arguably the most significant hospitality announcement the UAE has witnessed to date. In a regional first, the prestigious Michelin Guide will rate Dubai’s restaurants and award its most coveted prize, the Michelin Star, to any eateries that match the global publication’s rigorous criteria.

“Dubai is one of the shining gems of the seven Emirates and it has grown into one of the world’s principal destinations for business and tourism,” Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of Michelin Guides, tells Villa 88. “With food tourism on the rise, the launch of the Michelin Guide Dubai this year will be a catalyst for positioning Dubai as the destination of choice for foodies and gourmets seeking authentic culinary experiences across all tastes and budgets.”

Michelin Star-winning chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Heinz Beck, Nobu Matsuhisa and Vineet Bhatia are among those who have opened outposts of their famed restaurants in Dubai. But as the Star is held by a restaurant rather than its chef, this will be the first time the UAE can claim to have Michelin-recognised establishments. “Middle Eastern cuisines remain popular, and the diversity of population and popularity of Dubai have led to it having one of the most cosmopolitan and wide-ranging collections of restaurants in the world,” notes Gwendal.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a destination, being able to offer a large choice for food enthusiasts travelling to Dubai. The dynamism of the restaurant industry mirrors the ambition of the city.”

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing

“The arrival of the Michelin Guide for Dubai is the highest recognition of the quality and diversity of its culinary scene,” says Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing. “Our restauranteurs and chefs have worked very hard in the last years. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a destination, being able to offer a large choice for food enthusiasts travelling to Dubai.”

While the arrival of the Michelin Guide shines a spotlight on Dubai’s restaurant scene that’s sure to attract more travellers for quality food experiences, it’s good news for those who call the Emirate home. Food writer Courtney Brandt, whose website A to Za’atar highlights the UAE’s best restaurants, has lived in Dubai since 2007 and has seen the culinary scene evolve significantly over time.

“I’m optimistic that the awards will recognise some of the incredible culinary talent we have in the country.” Courtney notes. “While we’ll still have foreign chefs pop in to set up restaurants, the local market is in the process of maturing. I’m delighted to see chefs open their own venues to focus on individual concepts and cuisine.”

“Dubai is one of the shining gems of the seven Emirates and it has grown into one of the world’s principal destinations for business and tourism.”

Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of Michelin Guides

Michelin’s arrival follows hot on the heels of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, which announced its inaugural MENA list in February. Dubai-based 3 Fils took the number one spot. “I’d say Dubai’s culinary profile is ‘global’ right now. Many visitors enjoy and support internationally-renowned chefs and restaurant chains, but personally, I’ll always choose and suggest unique concepts, especially those that are developed locally,” adds Courtney.

The possibility of claiming a Michelin Star, Bib Gourmand or Green Star, given to restaurants that combine ‘culinary excellence with outstanding eco-friendly commitments’, could also see an influx of new gastronomic expertise to the UAE, according to Issam. “The dynamism of the restaurant industry mirrors the ambition of Dubai, and we encourage homegrown chefs to continue in this direction, and overseas chefs to consider Dubai as a place to establish their restaurants.”


Images Courtesy of Michelin