Straight from the streets of Beirut, Al Baba Sweets brings Lebanese sweet delicacies to Abu Dhabi. The sweet shop, now in its 14th year in the UAE, is extremely popular among Lebanese looking for a taste from home and with foodies of the city.
Al Baba’s specialty is the ma’amoul, a pastry filled with pistachio, dates or walnuts. The powdered sugar sprinkled over the soft dough sweetens the nutty treat. Another favorite, the baklava, oozes syrup as you bite into the flaky dough. Although boxes of the sweet delicacies can be a bit pricey, students can buy plates of ma’amoul or baklava by weight.
Fedaa Makarem, a Syrian employee at Al Baba, explained the breakfast frenzy surrounding their cheese kanafeh. Every morning Al Baba welcomes the neighborhood for breakfast. The kanafeh is placed inside Lebanese-style bread.
“It is like a Lebanese sandwich,” said Makarem, chuckling while preparing one to sample.
NYU Abu Dhabi community members looking for enticing cakes for family and friends’ birthday parties should try the Al Baba cakes. Anywhere from 80 to 100 AED per kilo, the cakes are cheaper than Baskin Robbins and exquisitely made.
Try their strawberry, mango and chocolate ice cream cake for a birthday bash, only 100 AED for a medium cake. In addition, students who want a customized cake for a friend can go in with a picture or idea and Al Baba will have the cake ready in three days.
Sweet tooths looking for an alternative from the Middle Eastern sweets will be equally happy at Al Baba. Try their homemade ice cream bars dipped in chocolate with nuts or their homemade ice cream sandwiches with cheesecake ice cream filling.
Their gelato, thick and creamy, is perfect for the hot months ahead. Try their pistachio and chocolate, or, if you are in a fruitier mood, have the lemon gelato.
For those wanting a small treat, try their pistachio truffles dipped in dark chocolate or the macaroons. There is a sweet for everyone at Al Baba.
Many people in the neighborhood — from Lebanese to other Arabs, Indians and Australians — flood Al Baba for their sugar rush. Al Baba’s regular customers are friends with the staff, often laughing and sharing stories.
However, Makarem warned that becoming a regular at Al Baba has its downsides.
“[A Customer] comes here thin, and then he leaves big.”
Al Baba Sweets is in the Tourist Club neighborhood near the Abu Dhabi Mall. Tell the taxi driver it is located next to the Dana Hotel in front of the Abu Dhabi Co-Operative Society. It is a 12 AED taxi ride from Sama Tower.
Nicole Lopez del Carril is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.