Following the United Arab Emirates’ signing of a normalization accord with Israel last Tuesday, the UAE’s first-ever certified kosher restaurant has opened on the ground floor of the luxury Armani Hotel, situated in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The restaurant, Armani/Kaf, is certified glatt kosher under the supervision of Rabbi Levi Duchman, the UAE’s Chabad rabbi.
The restaurant said it will provide room service for hotel residents who want to enjoy the restaurant’s kosher cuisine without leaving their rooms, as well as offer delivery service throughout Dubai.
Armani/Kaf will be closed to guests on Fridays but will offer special Shabbat takeaway packages before the Jewish Sabbath.
The restaurant is not the UAE’s first kosher food business — that title belongs to Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, a catering business owned by Elli Kriel, wife of the president of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, Ross Kriel.
In early September, America’s Orthodox Union said it will be the leading kosher certification agency in the United Arab Emirates.
The leadership of the UAE requested that the Orthodox Union take up the position after it handled kosher food during a visit to the UAE by an Israeli and US delegation.
Orthodox Union Kosher, which the group says is the world’s largest kosher certification body, will oversee the implementation of the dietary regulations in partnership with the UAE’s local Jewish community.
It will be responsible for kosher food at hotels and at events, including Expo 2020, a major international exhibition that will be held in Dubai starting in October 2021 (the event was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic).
Earlier this month local authorities in Abu Dhabi instructed all hotels in the city to prepare kosher food options, expecting Israeli tourists following the signing of the peace deal.
Estimates of how many Jews currently live in the UAE range from the low hundreds to 1,500. There are three different congregations — two Orthodox and one egalitarian.