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Al Fanar Restaurant

With an ambience of Dubai in the 1960’s, and with the taste of Authentic Emirati Cuisine, AL FANAR RESTAURANT and CAFÉ will revive the memories of Dub...

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A little piece of the Emirates comes to London as restaurant Al Fanar opens its doors

The restaurant bringing Emiratis back to their roots is spreading the cuisine to London

It’s a brisk day when I meet Hashem Al Marzouqi outside an unassuming restaurant unit next to Gloucester Road tube station in South west London. Snow is forecast for the end of the week and builders wearing gloves and high-visibility vests expertly saw planks of wood outside.

The setting stands in stark contrast to where one would usually find a branch of the Al Fanar restaurant chain, but once inside (even in the early stages of construction) there is an unmistakable Emirati vibe.

London’s Al Fanar, the seventh iteration of the successful Dubai restaurant chain, is the first outside of the UAE and is due to open in March. It may be not much more than a building site at present, but Hashem’s enthusiasm for his latest project brings the place to life.

“The restaurant for me is more passion than business,” Hashem tells me as we walk through the dusty unit, detailing his other line of work as founder and CEO of Aspen Creations, the theming company behind the look of the newly-opened Warner Bros. World on Yas Island.

Al Fanar may be his passion, but the two businesses aren’t wildly different, says Hashem, as both are about providing an experience. With theme parks, the experience is creating wonder, a sense of otherworldliness. With Al Fanar, it’s a journey back to the UAE’s roots.

All of Al Fanar’s restaurants are designed to look like a 1960s Emirati merchant’s home, before the skyscrapers and record-breaking shopping complexes were even conceived, and the London branch will be no different.

“Our concept is, everything as if you were in your own home,” says Hashem.

“The food, the way we present it, the way we cook it, is home style. The type of dishes we are serving are exactly the same type of dishes we were serving in the 1960s.

“I was born in 1965 so I grew up in these kind of houses. For me it's a memory.”

When he opened the very first Al Fanar, Hashem says he expected to appeal to tourists and expats in the emirate, but as time went by, he discovered the clientele were mainly Emiratis wanting to experience a slice of the past. You can’t get more Emirati than the restaurant's most prestigious diner - Sheikh Mohammed himself.

Workmen buzz busily about, taking measurements, sawing and hammering, as Hashem explains why he chose London as the restaurant’s first location outside of the GCC.

Read more: https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/food/a-little-piece-of-the-emirates-comes-to-london-as-restaurant-al-fanar-opens-its-doors-1.823133



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