11 best Arabic sweets in Dubai you must try & where!

by Danni B
Arabic sweets laid out in a dessert shop in Dubai

The Middle East has some amazing desserts and, and travelling to Dubai without trying them should be a crime! It’s definitely a food crime, at least.

If you have a sweet tooth and love nuts, you are going to LOVE Arabic desserts. A few options contain Arabic cheese, giving it a sour and tangy taste contrasting the sugar, making them incredibly addictive. Added with the exotic aromas of caradom and rose makes them perfection!

After first trying Kunafa in Jordan 8 years ago, I’ve made it my mission in Dubai to find the best places to eat tasty Arabic desserts. So I can enjoy them all the time!

Called ‘Halwa’ in Arabic, Halwa literally translates to sweet and can even be used as a compliment. So if someone calls you halwa, they’re saying you’re beautiful.

1) Kunafa

A slice of kunafa being lifted out from the tray with the cheese strings lifting up from the tray

This gooey cheesey dessert is contrasted by a crunchy pastry top and a sugar syrup is poured over. The bottom part is cheese but can also be cream. I personally love the cheese version!

The topping can also be a soft semolina cake style top instead of the crunchy filo . Many people argue over whether hard or soft is better, as well as cream versus cheese!

There are different variations such as with nutella and so forth but honestly the classic versions are so good that you should make sure you try these ones first.

Also I’ll apologise in advance, yes Kunafa is addictive. That’s probably why the Dubai stone exists! Once you eat it, there’s no going back!

Best place to try Kunafa in Dubai

Ibsais Sweets

Location: B2 Mall, Jumeirah 3
Timing: 10 am till 12 am
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

For more places to try Kunafa in Dubai.

2) Basbousa / Harissa

Basbaous with a large slice cut out and decorated with almonds in a glass tray

This is a sweet spongey semolina pudding. It’s called Basbousa in the gulf and Harissa in some parts of the levant. As usual with Arabic desserts it’s covered in a sweet syrup that makes the semolina sponge lovely and moist.

The second main ingredient is desiccated coconut which gives it a lovely coconutty flavour!

Often decorated with nuts, the most popular being whole almonds. It’s a simple cake style dessert but tastes amazing!

Did you just accidentally eat an entire plate of Basbousa to yourself? Yes, yes you did. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it!

Best place to try Basbousa in Dubai

Al Baba Sweets

Location: 829 Al Wasl Rd, Al Safa 2
Timing: 8 am till 10 pm
Rating: 4.4 out of 5

3) Umm Ali / Arabic Bread Pudding

Think of it as a bread pudding but tastier than the kind you might be used to in The States or Europe! I’ve always thought bread pudding was boring until I tried Umm Ali for the first time in Oman.

The Middle East is made with cinnamon, nuts and coconut to truly make it something incredible.

It’s also not always made with bread in the Middle East. It can be made with pastry, most commonly puff pastry.

Variations on the name include Om Ali and Omali but they all translate to “Ali’s Mother” in Arabic. Named after the wife of an Egyptian ruler from the 12th Century.

Best place to try Umm Ali in Dubai


Location: Various locations across Dubai
Timing: 7 am till 1 am
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 (DIFC branch is the highest rated)

4) Baklava

Several Baklava pieces on individual small plates ready to be eaten on a wooden table

Layers of filo pastry with layers of nut filling covered in butter make this very tasty Arabic dessert! You’ll find many different kinds, some made in birds nests, others made of a rolled pastry and all different kinds of nuts!

Typically a sugar syrup is poured over the Baklava as part of the final preparation so that all of the filo pastry absorbs it! Keeping it lovely and moist. Lots of butter and sugar make this one extremely tasty!

Best place to try Baklava in Dubai

Hafiz Mustafa 1864

Location: Lower Ground, Dubai Mall
Timing: 8 am till 12 am
Rating: 4.9 out of 5

5) Luqaimat / Logma

Gluten free Emirati Lugaimat served in a paper bowl with a toothpick, covered in date syrup and sesame seeds
Gluten free Lugaimat

These are kind of like little mini doughnuts with an over so slightly crispy outer shell. They are fried and extremely popular during Ramadan.

The traditional topping is a date syrup but you can also use honey if you prefer. Sesame seeds are sprinkled for decoration as a final touch!

It can be called Logma or Lokma in other regions but is typically called Luqaimat or Lugaimat in the gulf. As the UAE, Saudi Arabia and there Gulf countries pronounce the Arabic letter “Qaf” as a G.

The ones above are actually a special gluten free version which I couldn’t taste the difference and were still seriously tasty.

I have a recipe here including how you can make your own Logma machine so that you get perfect little tasty balls every time!

Best place to try Lugaimat in Dubai

Tawa Gluten Free Bakery

Location: Gate Avenue Zone D, DIFC
Timing: 10 am till 10 pm
Rating: 4.6 out of 5

6) Mahalabia / Arabic Milk Pudding

A close up of a mahalabia dessert with nuts and sugar sprinkled on top in a small glass bowl

Simple but so tasty! This traditional milk pudding is flavoured with rose water but you do also find it mixed with orange blossom water. Plus a sprinkle of nuts on top, typically pistachio nuts.

Due to it being made with cornflour to thicken up the milk, it is one of the few Arabic desserts that is naturally gluten free.

I really find the homemade version is the best, you should try my recipe for it here. As I have yet to find a restaurant that does it as tasty as this recipe! The caramelised nuts make all the difference.

Best place to try Mahalabia in Dubai

Arabian Tea House

Location: Various locations across Dubai
Timing: 7 am till 11 pm
Rating: 4.7 out of 5

7) Maamoul

Several maamoul stacked on a pink plate served with Arabic coffee in a traditional Arabic cup next to a maamoul cut in half to show the date filling

Have you ever tried a fig roll biscuit? I would describe these as similar but a lot more tasty! With a soft crumbly shell, inside is a tasty date and nut paste.

They’re popular to have with Arabic coffee and also during special holidays such as Ramadan or Eid.

As with most Arabic desserts, they have a very long history you can trace back centuries. These go back to as far as ancient Egypt. These are especially popular in the Arabian gulf.

Best place to try Maamoul in Dubai

Al Samadi Sweets

Location: 48 Al Muraqqabat St, Deira
Timing: 8 am till 11 pm
Rating: 4.4 out of 5

8) Qatayef / Atayek

Qatayef filled with a traditional cream called ashta and served with chopped pistachios on a white plate

These are soft spongey pancakes folded into a cone like shape filled with cream. Sprinkled with pistachios. Noticing the nut theme?

If you love cream, you’ll love these! It’s an Arabic flavoured cream called Astha. Alternatively it can be filled with a type of cheese called Akkawi.

Again like many of the others these are popular during Ramadan, as those fasting crave sugary items to quickly boost energy levels once the sun has set!

They’re typically fried as a final preparation so definitely not one for those on a diet! Though is any of this list really for people on a diet?

Best place to try Qatayef in Dubai

Nabeel Nafisah Sweets

Location: Al Barsha 1
Timing: 10 am till 1 am
Rating: 4.6 out of 5

9) Halawet El Jibn / Cheese Halwa

3 pieces of Halawet el jibn served on a  decorative white dish and pistachio with rose sprinkled on top

This dessert is a little bit different from the rest in terms of taste, it’s made from soured milk but is rolled in a semolina dough to create a slightly chewy, milky but yummy Arabic sweet.

Similar to other Arabic desserts, you’ll find rose water commonly used as a flavour along with Orange Blossom water and can be adjusted based on the chef’s preferences.

Best place to try Halawet el Jibn in Dubai

Al Hallab

Location: Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates & Garhoud
Timing: 8 am till 1 am
Rating: 4.3 out of 5

10) Omani Halwa

Small plastic dishes of Omani halwa with thinly sliced nuts on top

This is another really unique desert that has a jelly like consistency, flavoured with nuts, rose and cardamom. You’ll also find variations with dates and saffron. It is believed to be good for health and known for giving energy, despite being a sweet dessert.

It’s really interesting to watch it being made in the traditional way also as an Omani will sit with a large wooden paddle and keep staring over a large heated pot.

Best place to try Omani Halwa in Dubai

AlHarrasi Omani Sweets

Location: 156 Nad Al Hamar Rd, Dubai Festival City
Timing: 9 am till 10:30 pm
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

11) Usbu Al Zainab / Zainab’s Fingers

Bowls of different styles of Zainab's fingers dessert laid on a table on white plates

These crunchy little rolls do look a little like fingers, hence the name! I’ve seen many different varieties from my time in the Middle East. Some that look more like wafer rolls or Chinese spring rolls!

The second kind are lumpy dark gold brown finger shapes like the photo above. I personally prefer the first kind filled with cheese!

If you go for a Ramadan Iftar Buffet in Dubai, you’ll commonly find the second kind rather than the filo pastry rolls.

Best place to try Halawet el Jibn in Dubai

Firas Sweets

Location: 118 Al Nahda St, Al Twar 1
Timing: 7 am till 1 am
Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Final thoughts on Arabic desserts in Dubai

I apologise as you’re probably now very hungry with all of these sweets are fabulous that you must try!

Out of all of these Kunafa is one of the most popular in the entire region and for good reason! Baklava is another you must try with its many many varieties.

If you try any of my recipes at home, don’t forget to tag my Instagram with your results!

Want to learn more about the food in Dubai? Make sure to check out these articles:

Read more Visit Dubai guides

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