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Mul Hayam kosher restaurant wowing taste buds and spreading Israeli cuisine

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Mul Hayam is the first Israeli restaurant in Dubai. (Photo: Elroi Worcman)

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As normalisation between Israel and the Arab world unfolds, every new step is monumental. Cuisine is a big part of culture and thus any cultural exchange. In that regard, Mul Hayam restaurant being the first of its kind to serve Israeli cuisine in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to be commemorated. 

Two Israeli wedding photographers, Elroi Worcman and Avichai Kadosh took a bold decision when they boarded one of the first flights that set off after normalization in 2020 and opened the first Israeli restaurant, Mul Hayam, a kosher venue with views of the iconic Burj Al Arab in the Emirates of Dubai. 

Set in Umm Suqeim 3, Jumeirah in a beachside area, situated alongside a marina filled with fishing and boating activities, it has a good vibe if you intend to wind down and enjoy some good old-fashioned kosher food; something you will find in multicultural cities like New York, Paris or London. 

“I decided to start something new and innovative,” Elroi said with a smile. He continued “The goal of Mul Hayam – which means ‘facing the sea’ – is to provide affordable Israeli cuisine to all kinds of clientele honestly: for Israeli tourists who want something affordable while traveling, practicing Jewish expats who want kosher or Emiratis and foreigners alike who would like to try Israeli cuisine and just experience something new and tasty I guess” he shrugs. 

The 25 year old with his welcoming personality adds that Jewish expats of all income levels from wealthy to average earners love to order from him “Of course, even rich people love to get normal, simple food on a regular basis” he added. 

Looking at Careem or Talabat (local food delivery apps) one instantly notices a variety of global cuisines in alphabetical order from Afghan, Bosnian, Chinese right down to Zanzibari, attesting to UAE being a true cultural melting pot. Mul Hayam in that sense is the first to fill the Israeli niche! 

There is vegetarian cuisine for Jains and Hindus, non-Muslims can get pork in supermarkets, yes there is a variety of options for different religions. Mashgiach Rabbi Goldschmidt of Star K that provides Kosher certification says that adding kosher dining “Only adds to the spirit of UAE’s diversity, multiculturalism and coming together via culinary experience.”

Out of 10 million people, slightly less than 1 million (10%) are Emirati citizens and the rest are foreign nationals hailing from 190+ nations. Unlike Yemen, Egypt, Syria and many other Arab nations, UAE is among the few that did not have a long-standing Jewish population. Nearby Bahrain is the only Gulf nation to have an old, established historic Jewish community. Ironically some of these nations have had kosher food, even while they were at war with Israel.

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Mul Hayam has opened at a crucial juncture indeed; in the aftermath of the 2019 Abrahamic accords, the first public normalization of relations between an Arab nation and Israel since with Jordan in 1994. This also comes after over 73 years of UAE and Israel not having formal relations. Among those who signed the original Abraham Accords were Emirati foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayan, US President Donald Trump and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. 

UAE is a Sunni Muslim majority country and therefore, most food served in restaurants is halal (adhering to Islamic dietary law). However, despite varying opinions among theologians, most do agree that Muslims can consume the majority of kosher items – this has the added bonus of enabling Muslim customers to get a taste of Israeli cuisine. 

Also, when Muslim immigrants first moved to Western countries mostly after World War II, if they couldn’t easily fin halal, they would opt for kosher. Nowadays, halal options are more common in the west. 

Elroi Worcman of Mul Hayam restaurant in Dubai greets Avi Kumar of Thej.ca. (Photo: Avi Kumar)

Waltzing into Mul Hayam, one notices kippa-clad Israeli clientele talking in Hebrew, Jews from other countries as well as other nationals. Worcman and Kadosh both wear their kippot openly, and claim that they have never felt any mistreatment being Israelis in Dubai so far.

The sea bass and ‘Shabbat salmon’ are by far the most popular items. The egg-based dish, Shakshuka, is also mouthwatering. One can also order minty refreshments to cool off in the heat or sip traditional Middle Eastern coffee at leisure. The only non -vegetarian items available so far are egg and seafood since slaughtering poultry or livestock would be more expensive. (In addition to Mul Hayam, there is a kosher option at the Armani hotel, which is more upscale/ fine dining.)

According to Senior Rabbi Eli Abadie, “If demand for kosher increases, we might see more meat options in future, such as chicken, beef, lamb and other meat items.”  

Mul Hayam in Dubai is adjacent to a marina, allowing for this kind of wonderful scenery to enjoy shakshuka and other vegetarian delights. (Photo: Elroi Worcman)

Recently, thousands of people from around the globe have been awarded ‘Golden visas’ (initiated in 2019) in UAE in recognition of their exceptional status whether they be investors, doctors or other individuals with highly-prized skills/ work in key sectors that are crucial to economic growth. Also, safety and economic stability is another pull factor for immigrants. So, it is very likely that Israelis and other Jews will plan to move here to work or raise families in the near future with this in mind.  

While anti-Semitism still occurs in the West, we see an Arab-Muslim nation opening up to Jews, proving that being tolerant can also mean accepting something Jewish. 

Mul Hayam restaurant providing Israeli cuisine is a truly innovative venture and very symbolic of Arab-Israeli normalization!  You can follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/mulhayamdubai/

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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