I remember Al-Khaima. I visited the restaurant 26 years ago when I was 13 years old and my family were expats in Doha. I missed Newcastle upon Tyne - and my family there - it was not a particularly happy time for me. There were a few ‘expatriate clubs’ and no alcohol at all anywhere. But Al-Khaima was one of the highlights. The food is outstanding. I don’t think I have tried Middle Eastern dishes which have bettered it anywhere in the world. Apart from my own family’s cooking there isn’t anything to rival it.
Also being openly gay means it is very difficult to even visit the Middle East. I know there are many gay tourists who do visit Dubai but I think it is not a good idea when local people do not enjoy the same freedoms. So it is nice to have memories from my youth about the way people were meant to socialise (in the best sense) from antiquity.
When Hourani wrote his ‘History of the Arab Peoples’ he mentioned the ability of a people to pervade time itself and the hospitality and friendliness which I witnessed was the Middle East at its very best.
My father’s ancestry is Iraqi by descent so I think the best experiences which I take from the Middle East are found at places like Al-Khaima. The significance of ‘The Tent’ - its translation - will be known to everyone from Kurdistan to the Emirates and Oman and Yemen. It documents in modernity a time when social constraints did not exist and peace really was a moveable feast of achievement rather than something to be derided.
If you are in Qatar - certainly for business - then use the opportunity to visit this fantastic establishment.
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