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?’“


A wellness interlude

The relaxation room at the Pearl Spa. (All images supplied)
Updated 20 September 2018
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A wellness interlude

  • The Pearl Spa offers holistic wellness experiences
  • It is themed around the region's pearling heritage

DUBAI: Few things can give you that instant holiday feeling as much as a spa treat. Of course, it helps if it’s within the tranquil beachside setting of the luxe-Arabesque Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. Walking into its sun-drenched lobby bedecked with fresh floral arrangements puts you into relax mode, with the dial being cranked up higher as soon as you enter Pearl Spa.

Themed around the region’s pearling heritage, the spa doesn’t just nod to the gem in its name but also references it in the opulent yet understated design with mother-of-pearl inlays and pearly finishes throughout.



And if the spa’s decor is impressive, the couples’ suite will wow even the most jaded. A proper hotel-suite sized affair, it has a generous living area with sofas, an outdoor courtyard with a bubbling fountain providing the perfect backdrop, and separate treatment rooms and bathrooms. Once holed up in here, anyone could be forgiven for not trying out the rest of the wet facilities, which include a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and a sensory shower.

However, a spa is only as good as its therapists, and in this case they are among the best in town. The signature massage, a 90-minute therapy, combines a variety of strokes and pressures, together with regionally inspired oud, rose and frankincense oil to make for a truly indulgent experience.

The treatment protocol is merely prescriptive, however, as the therapists really take it upon themselves to fix whatever is required — knots were teased out, muscle aches I didn’t know existed eased away, and tensions soothed as the masseuse kneaded, pummeled and stretched, hopping on to the table to maximize the impact of the massage.



I waddled out in an utterly relaxed state, making a mental note that this is one of the best massages anyone can have in Dubai, bar none (and I have tried most).

At the end, herbal teas are served in the private lounge as you are left to ease yourself back into the real world at your own relaxed pace. The quintessentially Four Seasons touch of thoughtfulness punctuates the whole experience, whether it’s in the beauty gear provided in the ladies’ dressing room, or the nuts and dried fruit snacks accompanying the post-treatment snack.

When you combine a superlative treatment such as this with a spa lunch, then it can turn a dusty urban afternoon into a complete retreat like little else can.



Offering a holistic wellness experience, their new spa menu features light and nutritious yet delicious gourmet dishes: Marinated tuna carpaccio with seaweed and cucumber yuzu dressing and sunflower seeds; avocado and Boston lettuce salad with shaved Parmesan and poached apple and perfectly cooked Loch-Fynn salmon with sautéed kale and asparagus; and fresh, mousse-like low-fat mango yoghurt with acai sorbet and granola crumbs. The pre-treatment lunch is usually served in the Pearl Courtyard, but during the hotter months can be taken indoors at the lobby side Shai salon.