As the Dubai Food Festival drew to a close early this week with the Taste of Dubai, organizers of the inaugural celebration are declaring the 23-day Festival a grand and gourmet success. Organized by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the Dubai Food Festival was a citywide celebration that saw eleven key events, 26 international chefs, and more than 700 restaurants host and participate in a range of food-related events, tastings, activations and promotions. Appealing to both residents and visitors, the Dubai Food Festival showcased the diversity of the Emirate’s culinary offer with cuisines inspired by the 5400 restaurants operating in the city, and the over 200 nationalities who call it home.  

Along with solidifying the Emirate’s profile as a burgeoning gastronomy destination and contributing to the further development of its fast growing food and restaurant sector, the Festival also further enhanced Dubai’s dynamic destination offer – adding a new annual event for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Her Excellency Laila Mohammed Suhail, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said: “The inaugural Dubai Food Festival was a true demonstration of the Emirate’s ascension as a vibrant and unique culinary capital. It provided a platform to showcase and demonstrate our rapidly expanding food and restaurant sector, as it also established yet another compelling reason for Dubai residents to celebrate, and international guests to visit. The success of the inaugural Dubai Food Festival is not only testament to our extraordinary gastronomy offer, but also the tireless dedication of our partners and the unparalleled professionalism and creativity of the local food and hospitality industry. 2014 set a great benchmark for future Dubai Food Festivals and we look forward to an even more exciting celebration in 2015.”

Starting on Feb. 21, 2014, with the new Dubai Food Carnival, and ending on Sunday with Taste of Dubai, the Dubai Food Festival saw a diverse array of eleven consumer and industry events take place across the city throughout February and March. Along with the opening and closing events, key Dubai Food Festival events included Gulfood, the Grand Kerala Festival, The Big Grill, The Taste of Peru, and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF).

Events also adding specific culinary themes in celebration of Dubai Food Festival were the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2014, Gulf Photo Plus 2014, Global Village with their Global Barbeque Fiesta, and the Dubai International Boat Show.  Also new, and a first for Dubai, was the highly popular Dubai Food Festival Beach Canteen, which took place on city beaches between Feb. 27 and Mar. 8.  Beach Canteen saw sixteen restaurants “pop-up” to create three tempting yet temporary dining districts on Jumeirah 1 Open Beach, Sunset Beach and Kite Beach.

Adding star power to the Festival’s full calendar of events including Dubai Food Carnival, GRIF and Taste of Dubai, were 26 international and celebrity chefs. Representing cuisines from around the world, these award-winning culinary superstars included such well-known names as British Chef Silvena Rowe; French Chef Jean Christophe Novelli; Food Network Channel personality Reza Mahammad; Australian power pair Greg and Lucy Malouf; Queen of the Arabic Kitchen, Egyptian Chef Manal Al Alem; Lebanon’s Chef of the Year 2013, Maroun Chedid; and Indian TV star Sanjeev Kapoor.

Restaurants, malls and markets across Dubai also got in on the appetizing action with a series of activities and specials. More than 700 restaurants, ranging from the five-star Blue Jade, to chic yet casual cafés such as Bateel Café, created special set menus and special dining promotions to celebrate the inaugural festival. Malls including Dubai Mall and Deira City Centre organized 10 in-mall shows as they gave shoppers the opportunity to experience diverse cuisines at food court outlets as well as the opportunity to win grand gourmet experiences.

Establishing a lasting legacy beyond its 23-day run, the Dubai Food Festival also launched the Dubai Food Festival Gourmet Trail during the Festival’s second week.  Demonstrating the diversity and vibrancy of Dubai’s gastronomic credentials, and designed to share insight with residents and visitors alike, the Gourmet Trail maps a small yet outstanding sampling of the more than 5,400 restaurants, bistros, canteens and cafés that operate in the Emirate. With more than 100 restaurants representing some of the most unique and best Arabic, world, 5-star, low-cost and secret dining experiences available in Dubai, the Trail was a collaboration between Dubai Food Festival and the who’s who of the Emirate’s vibrant food blogging community including well-known food bloggers Shaikha Al Ali of When Shaikha Cooks, Samantha Wood of FooDiva, Sarah Walton of The Hedonista, Tala Soubra of Fork it Over Dubai, Saba Wahid of Culinary Delights, and Karen McLean of Secret Squirrel Food.