And, as always, Dubai offers a huge contrast of iftar choices touching on the traditional and the innovative.
The first notable visible change from the usual set-up is the showpiece illuminated wine locker, during Ramadan filled instead with a variety of soft drinks and fresh juices in dinky little bottles.
It’s a striking feature beside a spacious layout that includes a range of attractive cold starters and salads – and some excellent pizza, kept in regular supply from 3in1’s central pizza oven where you can customize.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the Vida iftar, however, is the a la carte element.
With much discussion about waste generated by some lavish iftar buffets, here you get a menu of Arabic mains favourites done with a twist, delivered to your table for sharing.
They change daily, but we sampled a moreish shish tawook (poshed up by pomegranate molasses), a gorgeous kofta khashkhash (the spicy lamb lifted by a charred tomato salsa and pomegranate) and chicken potato (given a lovely chili and lemon kick). Chef James Knight-Pacheo has also given fish harra, chicken mloukhieh, vegetables salona and lamb darwood basha the treatment.
It proved tough leaving space for dessert, but with an indulgent date pudding, baklava crème brulee and karak chai pannacotta among the options, belts were again loosened.
The quality level is high and there’s a peaceful ambience to this contemporary iftar that makes it a treat whether you are fasting or not.
And you’ll find few other places that include a pop-up fashion section in their restaurant.
The display by homegrown agency Fashion Exclusive has been featuring different designers during the holy month. They’ve also put together an intriguing installation in the lobby under the Art in Vida 2017 banner.
There they’ve set-up the Layali tent for another year, decking it out with formal white furnishings, comfy sofas and a buffet-style setting.
Unlike in some years where the central water features at the rear of the hotel have been incorporated into a tent, the venue has a dedicated large covered area to one side of the garden.
The cold starters are extensive, ranging from a smoked duck salad offering to makdous – eggplant leaves stuffed with walnuts, red pepper and garlic.
These are tangy, taste better than they can sometimes appear and work well with the tomato and green bean salad lubia bil zaite, a rich mosakaa and stuffed grape leaves warak enab bil zaite.
The lamb is rendered tender and pleasantly sour presented as lahem bil laban, the sauce milky and subtle. Lamb ouzi steals the show as usual, but has plenty of competition in this spread.
Leave a corner for the sweet treats. There’s a decent choice on offer in the Layali tent, with highlights including the colourful blancmange-based Lebanese dessert aish el saraya (sometimes known as Egyptian palace bread) and a coffee cheesecake which is good but could do with a touch more coffee flavour.
VIDA Downtown is located at Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.
IFTAR is from sunset until 9pm and costs AED 170 per person for adults; 50% off for children aged six-12 years (free for under fives). Suhoor is 9pm-3am; à la carte menu pricing
TO book call 04 428 6888 or email email@example.com or see www.vidahotels.com for more.
KEMPINSKI Hotel & Residences is on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah.
IFTAR is from sunset until 9pm and costs AED185 per person. Suhour rates start from AED95 and runs 10pm until 3am.
TO book go to www.kempinski.com/en/dubai/palm-jumeirah
BOTH hotels have outlets and offers on the current Entertainer app.