Fresh twist for UAE diners as oysters thrive in warm waters

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A fresh oyster dish prepared by chef Georgiy Danilov is displayed at Copper Lobster restaurant, in Fairmont, Fujairah, UAE. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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Frame grab from video, lantern nets holding oysters inside hang underwater at the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Fay Abuelgasim)
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An employee of the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm points to the underwater oyster farm, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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A mosque’s minaret and the Shumayliyah Mountains are seen from Dibba Bay on the Arabian Sea, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off these shores in Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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An employee of the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm cleans a lantern net at the company’s harvesting and processing facilities, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates.The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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An employee of the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm cleans the lantern nets at the company’s harvesting and processing facilities in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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A package of oysters from the Dibba BayOyster Farm is displayed, in Dibba, UAE. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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An employee of the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm, pulls a lantern net with oysters from the water, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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An employee cleans oyster shells at the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm’s harvesting and processing facilities, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
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Employees clean oyster shells at the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm’s harvesting and processing facilities, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili).
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Frame grab from video, a diver from the Dibba Bay Oyster Farm, fixes a lantern net at the underwater oyster farm, in Dibba, United Arab Emirates. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Fay Abuelgasim)
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Ramie Murray, Scottish owner and founder of Dibba Bay Oyster Farm tests a fresh oyster at the company’s harvesting and processing facilities, in Dibba, UAE. The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters. Now, off the shores of the Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Fresh twist for UAE diners as oysters thrive in warm waters

FUJAIRAH, UAE: The waters of the Arabian Gulf have long been home to pearl oysters, providing a valuable mainstay to Arab tribes that subsisted off its trade before the discovery of oil pumped new life into the Arabian Peninsula. Now, off the shores of the United Arab Emirates, a new type of oyster is thriving — the edible kind.
Long thought of as a cold water delicacy, edible oysters are being farmed in the warm waters of Fujairah, an emirate with a coastline that juts out into the Gulf of Oman. The local delicacy has made its way to tables in 12 different restaurants in Dubai, a cosmopolitan emirate east of Fujairah that is home to some of the Middle East’s top-rated restaurants serving international tourists and residents.
Dibba Bay Oysters in Fujairah, established two years ago, produces up to 20,000 oysters a month. They grow inside multi-tiered, netted baskets submerged in the open water. At any given time, there are about 1 million oysters at various stages of growth. An oyster can take anywhere between 12 and 18 months to grow to full market size.
“With these local oysters, we take them out of the water in the morning, and then in the afternoon they’re with the hotels, they’re with the chefs, they’re in the restaurant,” said Dibba Bay founder Ramie Murray.
The UAE imports nearly all of its food due to its harsh desert climate, but being able to deliver fresh oysters within hours to restaurants has made the local delicacy an attractive menu item at some of Dubai’s most popular and prestigious seafood restaurants, including the oyster bar at Dubai’s Opera.
“Someone came to me and said: ‘Hey, have you heard of these local oysters?’ And I was like: ‘No,’” said the bar’s executive chef Carl Maunder. “It was sort of out of the blue because, you know, this was in the summer time, it was very, very hot and just the last thing I expected anybody to be producing or farming here in Dubai.”
Murray plans to ramp up production to about 150,000 oysters a day in the coming years and expand to other markets in the region. The Dibba Bay farm claims to be the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Due to the warmer water temperatures, Murray says his Pacific Cupped oysters grow faster than they might in cooler climates.
The Pacific Cupped oysters, he said, “grow very well in the summer and their growth tails off in the winter, whereas here they just grow continuously because we have the warm weather the whole year round.”
Just down the coast from the Fujairah farm is the Copper Lobster restaurant. There, chefs serve the locally grown oysters with a Japanese Ponzu sauce.
“Being in the industry for 15 years, I had a kind of stereotype as (might) any other chef that oysters can only be imported from Europe,” chef Georgiy Danilov said. “In the middle of the year, I just got the business card of Ramie. ... I called him, and I was like: ‘Are you real?’“


Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

Updated 13 June 2018
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Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

  • A team of volunteers collect unwanted food from lavish Ramadan buffets
  • Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago

AMMAN: At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman’s five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families.
Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago, angered by the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region.
“What we do is eliminate this waste, we salvage the food and provide it to people who are in desperate need of it,” said Sharif, a 33-year-old teacher.
His team of volunteers now works all year round to collect unwanted food from large wedding parties, bakeries and restaurants.
This year the initiative has focused on the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, one of the depressed areas in a country that has seen some of the biggest protests in years this month over steep price hikes, which are backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Critics say the price hikes are to blame for rising poverty in Jordan.
Family Kitchen’s initiative this year provides ‘iftar’ meals — eaten by Muslims after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan — to 500 families in the impoverished refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman.
A third of the camp’s 120,000 residents have an income below the national poverty line and around 17 percent are unemployed, the UN refugee body says.
“Our families are very poor, there is a lot of poverty in the community, so they need this support, they need these meals in order to ensure that they have food the next day,” said Kifah Khamis, who runs a charity in the sprawling camp.
One camp resident, Um Thair, a mother of four, said she could not have coped without the meals delivered to her family.
“I was able to save money. During Ramadan I didn’t have to buy a lot of food or shop a lot, we got most of our meals from the charity, we would come everyday and get our iftar meal,” she said.