The People of the UAE: Discover the stories and gems of 6 people living and working in Dubai

We’re a diverse bunch, we #ThePeopleOfTheUAE. We hail from over 200 countries, speak a host of languages, and find ourselves engaged in a vast array of occupations, engrossed in similarly varied preoccupations. For all our differences, though, there’s an uncanny common thread that runs through all of us. It’s that palpable aspiration for something better, our daily hustle to live our best lives. Yeah, there’s that, and our keen predilection for all the good things: the places, activities, accoutrements, and the food and drink that put a happy spin on our days and smiles on our faces.

This month, we at The Huntr chat with more folks in our community, to catch glimpses of their every day and get their take on what’s good in the city…

The People of the UAE

Marion Huber Reitmayer

28 years old, French-German

Marion has been living in Dubai for a little over 3 years.  Her frequent haunts are spread throughout the city.  Saturdays will find her brunching in 3-in1 Vida Downtown, where she enjoys the quality spread with lots of gluten-free options.  For lunch or dinner, she will opt for Bait Maryam in JLT Cluster D for the comfort of a meal with a home-cooked feel, or Kiku at the Meridien Hotel next to the airport, if her craving is for Japanese.  For coffee and sweets, she’ll head to her most recent discovery, Roseleaf Café at the Dubai Garden Center along SZR, which she describes as an intimate and gorgeous space, where “the pastries are probably the best in town!”

Marion works as a Personal Assistant. In her free time, she travels, practices Pilates, and watches movies.

The People of the UAE

Hanisha Lalwani

31 years old, Indian

Hanisha lived in three other countries – Nigeria, India, and Australia – before coming to the UAE.  For nearly two years now, she has called Dubai her home and already has a shortlist of favourite eateries to show for it.  Among the many brunches, she’s gone to, she shares it’s Westin Al Habtoor’s City Brunch that stands out.  She muses, “The sheer variety and taste of every single dish will whet the appetite of anyone, whether they’re after familiar or experimental flavours.”  She especially likes that you get to see chefs in their element, showcasing their culinary (e.g. noodle-making) and otherwise entertaining (e.g. DJ-ing) skills.  For dinner, her go-to is Aroos Damascus in Al Murraqqabat, which her friends introduced her to when she visited Dubai as a tourist.  Now, as a resident, and in the apparent spirit of paying it forward, she takes visiting family and friends there, too. Along with that sentiment, it’s the “very memorable Arabic fare at very competitive prices” and the lively ambience, “always buzzing with hungry diners” that keep her coming back.

Hanisha works as Cluster Assistant Marketing and PR Manager for Marriott International, an exacting function no doubt.  It’s no surprise then that she considers time outside work sacred and spends it judiciously, for self-development, as much as she can.  This is time she uses to update her blog, take a 45-minute walk whilst tuned in to her current favourite podcast ‘Snap Judgement,’ or catch up with her nearest and dearest and hatch imminent travel plans.

Then, when Hanisha is on hygge-mode, you’ll likely spot her at Skye & Walker in Deira cosying up with a page-turner, a hot cup of java, and a plateful of intermittently touched avocado-rose salad on the table.

The People of the UAE

Tamara Yassine

25 years old, Palestinian

Tamara grew up in Dubai.  She left some time for the States, to pursue undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, and returned after she graduated.  She works as a Supply Chain Professional at Aspen Pharmacare.

Off-hours, she indulges in nature (going horse riding and relaxing on the beach) and Netflix.  The Hamptons Café in Jumeirah 3 is her #1 breakfast and brunch spot. Origami and all the places with good sushi top her lunch and dinner list.  As for cafés, there’s no choosing between her two favourites: Stomping Grounds in Jumeirah 1 and Nathalie’s in Sports City.

The People of the UAE

Hassan Al Jazir

50 years old, Emirati

Hassan was born and raised in Dubai.  He works at Emirates Global Aluminum.  For leisure, he goes horse riding at the Al Jiyad Stables (in the Al Qudra Desert), which is owned by his cousin.  When not at the stables, he spends time with his family.

He counts on Tim Horton’s for breakfast, brunch, and (Canada’s favourite) coffee.  For lunch or dinner, he loves dining at Al Arab Restaurant in Al Furjan.  It’s the restaurant’s outdoor seating area he finds particularly appealing, with its “amazing ambience and relaxing atmosphere.”

The People of the UAE

Nada Badran

29 years old, Palestinian

Nada intimates that she has lived in the UAE her entire life.  She spent her first 10 years in Al Ain – and the next 19 (and still counting) in Dubai – “on and off, while studying abroad.”  She’s the founder of a tourism company called Wander With, where she offers cultural tours and educational adventures, guiding visitors towards their own deeply personal and undoubtedly unforgettable discovery of the many wonders of Dubai.  She’s also a start-up enthusiast and a speaker on the challenges faced by aspiring business owners in the emerging experience economy.

Her favourite breakfast/brunch spot is Raju Omlet in Al Quoz, where her every intent to stick to a regular order is frequently thrown off by their “fantastic new specials and limited editions” – all of which never fail to exceed her great eggspectations.  For lunch or dinner, she likes the adventure of DIY meal prep at Shogun in Al Ghurair Centre, an East Asian joint that spans Korean, Japanese, and Thai cuisines – where it’s fun to cook with friends, as long as no one is too hungry.  For coffee, she seeks out the cosy, verdant vibe of the Roseleaf Café at the Dubai Garden Centre in Al Quoz.  She says it’s a nice place to catch up, perhaps on some me-time or with friends.

Nada is proof positive that not all who wander are lost and, on the contrary, can be the coolest companions to see (and taste!) the best of the city with.   Literally on her feet and going places all the time, on the off-chance she can kick back, she will be lounging somewhere comfy, nose buried in a good book, and with a bucket of Garrett’s popcorn within easy reach.

The People of the UAE

Sophie Ziai

24 years old, American of Iranian Descent

Sophie moved to Dubai from the USA as a child and has called Dubai her home for the last 14 years.  Her trusty creature comforts are a fine cup of coffee and an agreeable read.  She’s noticed, though, how there’s that certain time of year when even these don’t suffice to appease her.  This is when she makes her way to the city’s art fairs and exhibitions and lets the works she encounters work their magic on her.

La Serre is where she enjoys breakfast and brunch the most.  As for lunch and dinner, she might vacillate between wanting crab at Flamingo Room and, as she puts it,  “burger galore” at Meat Me There.  When it comes to coffee, there’s no contest.  She’ll be having Stomping Grounds’ café latte which, she swears, is out of this world.                                                                                                      


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Photography and interviews by Amir Dakkak exclusively for The Huntr

Words by Nadine Onate exclusively for The Huntr