TheTaste.ie had an opportunity recently to meet Emirates Cabin Crew members Zoe Murphy and Aoife Roche who were in Dublin, having flown in from Dubai. The two shared some insights about Dubai’s vibrant food scene, giving us the inside track.
With a warm smile and a friendly handshake, they introduced themselves: Zoe, who’s originally from Tipperary, has been working with Emirates for two and a half years, and Aoife, from Dublin, has been with the airline for three years, the last six months as part of the group that looks after Business Class passengers.
“When I have family and friends over from Ireland I really like to go to Souk Madinat Jumeirah” says Zoe. “It’s beautiful and really picturesque, you have views of the Burj Al Arab and you have everything there in the one place”, she adds, referring to the famous souk, or open-air marketplace, which combines traditional stands and restaurants with cuisines from all over the world with numerous entertainment options.
Aoife has also discovered the joys of strolling through a souk. “The Souk Al Bahar, which is just beside the Dubai Mall, has stunning views of the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building, standing at 830m – and has amazing restaurants and cafés.” In there, you can find a mix of unique handcrafted pieces, perfumes and textiles or you can go through the walkway that connects it to the world’s biggest mall where both premium and high street brands await you.
Regarding the restaurant scene, both agree on the superb quality of traditional Arabic food, and point out that there are international offerings of every type and for all tastes. For Aoife, Thai and Italian are two cuisines that stand out. “The restaurants in Dubai really focus on service, it’s impeccable. They make you feel so comfortable and so welcome. Oh, and even the décor, it’s so beautifully designed, pure attention to detail”, adds Zoe.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
“There’s so much to do in Dubai, whether you want to have a pool day, water sports or yoga; there are just so many choices”, says Aoife, and she mentions that thanks to her FACE (Flight Attendant Club of Emirates) Card, she gets to enjoy many perks such as entry to beach clubs and gyms together with discounts across hotels, restaurants and shops. “I love the sunshine in Dubai, so sunbathing, relaxing and swimming would be some of my favourite things to do too”, she says.
When she’s not promenading across a seaside walk or a lively market, Zoe mentions she enjoys playing Gaelic Football and practicing yoga, such is Dubai’s cosmopolitan spirit that even when it comes to sports, you’ll find all corners of the world represented.
What type of foods or cuisines have you discovered in Dubai?
For Aoife, authentic Arabic food was a revelation. “It’s something I hadn’t tried until I moved to Dubai and it’s one of my favourites now”. Besides that, she mentions Korean and Mongolian BBQ as some of her discoveries.
Zoe has also developed a taste for traditional Middle Eastern food, and she mentions “a fabulous place in Wafi Mall called Khan Murjan” among her favourites. Other cuisines that she has become newly acquainted with are Japanese and Indonesian, “I had never really tried sushi until I came to Dubai, and I have an Indonesian friend who has introduced me to Indonesian food, so I’m really expanding my tastes and palate here.”
Food Tourism Tips and Ideas
When asked about what recommendations they can share with a food-loving tourist in Dubai, Zoe says “it depends on what they feel like because we really do have everything.” Some of the must-visit spots they suggest are “Wafi Mall as well as anywhere down by the Marina, the Dubai Marina Yacht Club is amazing”, adds Aoife, while Zoe mentions the JBR Walk, which is a restaurant and shopping strip adjacent to the beach.
They also point out The Irish Village, a traditional wooden Irish pub and restaurant in the heart of Dubai where lunch, dinner, drinks and even live music will offer a taste of Irish hospitality. McGettigan’s is another option for when someone is looking for a bit of Irish flavour.
One of Zoe’s favourite “Dubai experiences” is the Burj Al Arab Afternoon Tea. “I did it with my mom and it was absolutely exquisite. We were overlooking the entire city while having several courses. It was truly amazing.”
Besides food experiences, other activities that they recommend when visiting Dubai are a day in Atlantis Adventure Water Park or a Desert Safari tour.
Before we say goodbye, we reflect on how being exposed to such diversity has given them a wider appreciation of food, and about the unique learning experience that working with Emirates has provided. Aoife mentions that the airline “caters for different routes and cultures and there’s always a food and drink offer adapted to the tastes and flavours of the region” and Zoe says that besides being a really enjoyable experience, “being exposed to so many different foods and cultures that you didn’t even know about really broadens your horizons.”
As we end our conversation, we move on to take a photograph and again, grace, elegance and kindness shine, and long after the cameras are gone, their smiles stay. Just as you can see the care they place into every detail of their uniform; you can appreciate the pride and joy they take on being a part of the Emirates team.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.