Saudi Arabian prince to open vegan restaurants across the region in healthy lifestyle push

Prince Khaled has invested in Matthew Kenney’s vegan lifestyle company, and took the brand international by opening the first vegan restaurant in the Middle East with Bahrain’s new Plant Cafe. (Courtesy Plant Cafe)
Updated 29 January 2018
0

Saudi Arabian prince to open vegan restaurants across the region in healthy lifestyle push

DUBAI: The son of billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has announced plans to open a series of vegan restaurants across the Middle East, as he tries to encourage the region’s population to move away from ‘conventional diets’ and live a healthier lifestyle.
Prince Khaled laid out his plans on his Facebook account to open a minimum of 10 vegan restaurants in the Middle East by 2020.
“Our region occupies parts of the top ten most obese counties in the world. This is crazy and frankly a joke we have reached this level,” he explained.
Among the locations favored by the health buff Prince Khaled, who was recently named as president of the Saudi CrossFit Federation, include the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
And the Prince said the restaurants were not the answer to region’s health complaints, but just the beginning.
“I’m not saying opening 10 restaurants will solve this issue, but you better believe it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Prince Khaled was named among the world’s top influencers toward veganism in 2017 for his investments in Matthew Kenney’s vegan lifestyle company. He took the brand international by opening the first vegan restaurant in the Middle East with Bahrain’s new Plant Cafe.
Commenting on his Facebook page about the current diets of people in the region, Prince Khaled said the side effects “on states and society, economic, social, and health,” were disasters “that must be fought.”
“We have to boycott fast food restaurants and focus on our health and our children’s health before this disaster increases,” he said.


OPA: Enjoy a traditional Greek experience in Dubai

OPA, a Greek restaurant in the Fairmont hotel Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 18 February 2019
0

OPA: Enjoy a traditional Greek experience in Dubai

  • OPA offers a range of traditional Greek dishes and treats
  • Take a step into Greece with OPA's lavish decor

DUBAI: Upon entering Dubai’s latest Greek restaurant OPA at the Fairmont Hotel, diners are transported from the concrete jungle to a lavish, plant-filled lobby with a tree growing right in the center of the room, before moving into the dining area that’s been made to look like a traditional Greek establishment, with white-painted walls and light blue linings.

OPA offers a range of traditional Greek dishes and treats, many of which are similar to those found in most Mediterranean cuisines, but with a fancier touch.
Before we even sat down at our round, saloon-style couched table, loud (like, loud!) Greek music burst from the speakers as the waiters, dressed in chiton and peplos — traditional Greek clothing — gathered around and began dancing across the restaurant, inviting guests to join the fun and be a part of the unique experience. White, clay plates were passed to every table and diners were encouraged to smash them on the floor. More people were willing to get involved in the latter. Who knew the dining experience would come with an anger-management class?
First up was a trifecta of spicy feta, tzatziki and tarama dips coupled with seasoned and toasted triangular pita bread. While the tarama dip was fishier than others I’ve tasted, the spicy feta and tzatziki dips were lick-the-bowl-clean good. After came a chunky and refreshing Greek salad (because why not) and a black truffle tuna tartare that hit the spot both taste-wise and texturally, as the velvety softness of the raw fish worked well with the crispy koulouri.

The hot appetizers rolled in later — grilled octopus, prawns saganaki, and grilled Cypriot halloumi. While the grilled octopus offered little to differentiate it from other restaurant offerings, the saganaki offered a twist to the traditional flaming saganaki, with its feta cheese and roasted peppers-infused spicy tomato sauce. The halloumi was on another level — the sweetness of the grilled fig and grape dressing went hand in hand with the saltiness of the cheese, making it a pleasant surprise to the taste buds.
The mains began with three lamb chops served with pickled cucumbers and tzatziki, a hearty and rich dish that will have you sucking at the bone just to get more of the lamb flavor. Next up was the lobster orzo “risotto” (according to the menu), a grilled half-lobster marinated with seaweed butter laying on a bed of orzo mixed with tomato sauce. While the dish sounded extravagantly rich, it was actually rather flat — the flavors never really reached their full potential: the sauce was a tad bland and the lobster-to-orzo ratio leaned heavily on the orzo.

For dessert, we were served the OPA baklava sundae, a large crispy filo cup stuffed with pistachio cream, caramel and Greek yoghurt ice-cream, pieces of baklava and topped with crumbled pistachios and caramel sauce. It resembled a massive Turkish cupcake, and was enough for a table of four hungry diners. If you’re skilled enough to dig through from the top to the bottom and manage to balance all its components without having one fall, then you’re in for an exciting mouthful.

All in all, OPA is well worth a visit. Whether you’re in a group celebrating a birthday, a couple going out on a date or even going solo to reward yourself for surviving yet another hectic work week, take a step into Greece and away from Dubai’s tall towers and traffic-filled roads.