Is Dubai ready for its own Michelin Guide?

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Lima Dubai showcases the next generation Peruvian dining.
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Marina Social restaurant at InterContinental Dubai Marina.
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Dubai-based critics say the time has come for the city to be recognized for its fine dining.
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Presentation complements taste.
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Rumors have been swirling that Dubai is set to get its very own Michelin rating system.
Updated 14 March 2017
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Is Dubai ready for its own Michelin Guide?

Dubai is a foodie’s paradise. From delectable fine dining to scrumptious street-food offerings, you can eat your way around the city and still find space for dessert. So what is missing? A Michelin Guide of course.
Rumors have been swirling that the city is set to get its very own Michelin rating system, sparked by comments made by Michael Ellis, international director of Michelin Guides, at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum last year. Ellis said his company was on its way to creating a guide specifically for Dubai, but remained tight-lipped on the details.
Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants of outstanding quality in what is known as the Michelin Red Guide, with one star awarded to restaurants with very good cooking in their category, two stars for restaurants with excellent cooking, and the coveted three stars going to restaurants with exceptional cuisine. Michelin awards and retracts stars annually based on visits by their anonymous inspectors, whose grading methodology is a closely guarded secret.
The prestigious French guide actually began as a handy guidebook for Michelin tire customers in France in 1900. It was the brainchild of the Michelin brothers, who sought to “provide motorists traveling through France with all the useful information to supply their automobile, to fix it, where to sleep and eat, and which means exist to communicate, by mail, telegraph or telephone,” according to Christie’s auction house, which put a set of guides under the hammer in 2016.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and food buffs the world over may have spurted out their soup in shock when two street-food hawkers in Singapore became the world’s first such eateries to gain Michelin stars. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice And Noodle, and fellow street-food stand Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles, were awarded one star each in the Michelin Guide Singapore.
The push eastward is relatively recent, as until 2006 Michelin’s country guides only covered Europe. The hot question now is whether the cultural and culinary melting pot of Dubai is next on the list. It is home to eateries headed by a slew of Michelin-star chefs, but the city is yet to boast a restaurant with a sparkling star of its own as they can only be awarded in places where Michelin Red Guides are published.
Although Michelin declined comment, telling Arab News they do not remark on potential development strategy, one Dubai-based restaurant critic and writer thinks the time has come for the city to be recognized for its food chops.
“The food and beverage industry in Dubai has well and truly come of age in the last two years or so. There have been noises about how vibrant the restaurant scene here is for a long time, but it’s only now that it has acquired a gravitas that’s worthy of recognition by the likes of Michelin,” Sudeshna Ghosh told Arab News.
Ghosh points to the emergence of original, high-quality, home-grown concepts, and a shift away from restaurants being run by hotels, as reasons behind the uptick in excitement over the local food scene. “However,” she cautioned, “it’s important to note that it’s early days, and it will take some time before there’s a critical mass of restaurants that offer a Michelin-quality experience comparable to, say, New York or Paris.”
The industry insider tips her head to several Dubai-based restaurants that she thinks are strong contenders for a star. “Play, and the sister venue The Experience, are definitely strong contenders. Zuma, the only venue on the World’s 50 Best list, is also a definite. Apart from that, I’d say some that are worth looking into are Tresind/Carnival by Tresind; Hakkasan; La Petite Maison; Novikov; and Aseelah, which serves up Emirati food.”
Meals or wheels? The relationship between the tire company and the guide
You would be surprised to find out that the renowned Michelin restaurant guide actually started as a road atlas for Michelin tire customers in France in 1900. At the time, road trippers were in need of a guide that could point out the most appealing restaurants on their route, and tire manufacturer Michelin was happy to oblige.
The first edition saw almost 35,000 copies printed, and contained useful information for motorists, including a list of hotels, groceries, bakeries, hardware stores and instructions on how to fix and change tires.
In 1931, ratings featured the current system of three stars for the first time, with the definitions becoming clear and definitive in 1933. One star indicated a good place to stop on your journey, and was awarded to a very good restaurant in its category. Two stars meant excellent cuisine, indicating dishes of outstanding quality worth a detour. Three stars were awarded to a restaurant worth a special journey, where diners could expect to eat very well.
Although production of the guide was suspended during both world wars, the 1939 edition of the guide was reprinted by the US military in 1943, just before the June 6 invasion of Normandy the following year, as it was deemed the most up-to-date map available to the armed forces.
Michelin-starred chefs’ restaurants that Arab News recommends
• Tom Aikens’ Pots, Pans and Boards

More of a casual and rustic spot, this eatery, located in The Beach @ JBR, has a good selection of meat, fish and chicken options that arrive in, you guessed it, pots, pans and boards.

 

A #hearty #breakfast before anything else Thank you for sharing this awesome snap @celinxoxong

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• Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen
This restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm offers British cuisine with a relaxed, family friendly vibe.


 

Pop in and see for yourself who is the real @gordonramsayrestaurants #yorkieoff winner ... #teambsk @gordongram #yorkshirepuddingday

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• Yannick Alleno’s Stay
Although this is on the fancier end, with a strict dress code and no children under the age of 9 allowed, the food is more than enough to delight you at this One & Only The Palm eatery.


• Jason Atherton’s Marina Social
Marina Social dubs itself a celebrator of “de-formalized dining,” and offers a contemporary British-Mediterranean menu. It is located in the InterContinental Dubai Marina.




• Virgilio Martinez’s Lima
Peruvian chef Martinez replicated his famed restaurant in London in the heat of Dubai in the City Walk complex, and is credited with bringing the cuisine to the world’s attention.




• Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes W1
Rhodes was awarded a Michelin star for a restaurant in London in 1996, and has since brought his brand of British cooking to Dubai’s Grosvenor House.


• The Croft by Darren Velvick
The Croft was inspired by Velvick’s own childhood upbringing in a rural country village and is the home of great English cuisine in Dubai.

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Blood donation in the Middle East: The gift of life that is easy to give

Updated 14 June 2019
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Blood donation in the Middle East: The gift of life that is easy to give

  • World Blood Donor Day observed on June 14 to raise awareness of the life-saving importance of blood donation
  • Regular, voluntary donors are vital worldwide for adequate supply of safe blood and blood products

DUBAI: Blood donations in the Middle East have been described as “the gift of life” as the region struggles to cope with the demands posed by conflicts, humanitarian emergencies and the medical needs of a growing population.

International health experts have called on regular donors to step forward to mark World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

This year’s campaign focuses on blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more donors are needed “to step forward to give the gift of life.”

Those who benefit most from blood donations include people suffering from thalassaemia, a blood disorder that affects hemoglobin and the red blood cell count, as well as victims of road accidents, cancer patients and sickle-cell disease patients.

Experts say while the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have launched numerous initiatives to raise awareness of the lifesaving importance of blood donation, there is an increasing need across a wider region for regular donors.

“Many countries in the region face challenges in making sufficient blood available while also ensuring its quality and safety, especially during humanitarian emergencies and conflicts,” Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, told Arab News.

The GCC countries say they collect in total more than 10 whole blood donations per 1,000 population per year, or about 1 percent, Al-Mandhari said.

According to WHO, blood donations by 1 to 3 percent of the population are sufficient to meet a country’s needs. Even so, achieving self-sufficiency is a daunting challenge for many countries.

Al-Mandhari said that more than 90 percent of the blood is collected from voluntary, unpaid donors, aged from 18 to 44, with an increasing proportion of repeat donors. What is more, blood demand is unpredictable and even differs with each blood type. “For example O- blood can be given to patients with all blood types. But AB+ can only be given to patients with AB+,” he said.

Then there is the issue of short shelf life.

“To be ready to help patients in all hospitals, countries aim to stock usually six days’ worth of each blood type at all times,” Al-Mandhari said. “Since blood has a short shelf life — a 42-day window — and cannot be stockpiled, blood banks are forced to depend on donors to help maintain stocks.”

WHO’s most recent report on blood safety and availability points to “gaps in the key elements of national blood systems” in the Middle East.

A Saudi donor flashes the v-sign for victory as he gives blood in Jeddah. The Kingdom has one of the highest rates of repeat donors in the region. (AFP )

While GCC countries have taken steps to keep stocks at optimum levels, other countries in the Middle East are lagging behind international standards. The WHO report shows wide variations in annual blood-donation rates among countries, ranging from 0.7 per 1,000 population in Yemen to 29 per 1,000 population in Lebanon.

Al-Mandhari laid out the solution in a few easy steps: “Governments need to provide adequate resources, and put in place systems and infrastructure to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, regular unpaid blood donors, provide quality donor care, promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood; and set up systems for oversight and surveillance across the blood-transfusion supply chain.”

On the positive side, Saudi Arabia recorded a rate of 13.8 per 1,000 population, with a healthy spread across all age groups. The country also has one of the highest rates of repeat donors (91 percent) in the region. According to the WHO report, the proportion of repeat, voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation in the Kingdom is 65.3 percent, which “will keep the prevalence of transfusion-transmissible infections among blood donors at much lower levels than in the general population.”

In recent years, Saudi health officials have introduced a number of measures to ensure adequate stocks in blood banks, including those run by the Ministry of Health and dedicated centers. These include a large facility at King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) and the country’s Central Blood Bank.

In the Kingdom, to be eligible for blood donation, donors must be aged over 17, weigh more than 50 kg, and have passed a brief medical examination. The health ministry recently launched Wateen, an app designed to ease blood-donation procedures and help ensure facilities across the Kingdom have adequate quantities of blood by 2020.

KFMC officials say that every day at least 2,000 units of blood components are needed to sustain a minimum supply for patients at the facility and other governmental and non-governmental hospitals in Riyadh. Donated blood components are essential for the management of cases involving cancer, sickle-cell disease, organ transplant, surgery, childbirth and trauma, to name just a few.

The situation is not very different in the other GCC countries, which also need more donors.

In the UAE, Dubai Blood Donation Center, which accounts for roughly half of the total blood collected in the emirates, frequently highlights the urgent need for donors. In 2018 alone, it ran 635 blood-donation campaigns, which resulted in 63,735 donors and a collection of 50,456 blood units.

While all blood types are needed, negative blood types are in greater demand due to their rarity. “There is a continuous demand for all blood types as blood lasts for only 42 days. So donors are always needed to come forward to replenish these stocks,” Dr. Mai Raouf, director of Dubai Blood Donation Center, said.

“People can donate blood every eight weeks, with each donation potentially saving up to three lives,” she told Arab News. 

Given that transfusion of blood and blood products save millions of lives every year, and the fact that “regular donors are the safest group of donors,” the importance of encouraging people to return to donate blood, rather than be one-time donors, can hardly be overemphasized, experts say.

“Without a system based on voluntary, unpaid blood donation, particularly regular voluntary donation, no country can provide sufficient blood for all patients who require transfusion,” Al-Mandhari said.

“WHO is calling on all countries in the region to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood — and to encourage those who have not yet donated blood to start donating,” he said.