Arabic gahwa to Italian macchiato: Sip into global coffee traditions at Sharjah Heritage Days


Coffee is the ultimate symbol of hospitality and welcome in Arabian heritage, and so it is with a piping hot cup of ‘gahwa’ and succulent dates that a veteran coffee maker welcomes visitors at the 18th edition of the Sharjah Heritage Days (SHD), currently underway at the Heart of Sharjah until April 10.

A vibrant showcase of 29 world cultures, the Sharjah Heritage Days also pays homage to the centuries-old coffee drinking tradition of the UAE in a recreated ‘Bedouin Village’ where Mohamed Ahmed Al Tamimi brews Arabic coffee over a rudimentary fireplace dug into the ground. Seated on the sand, like the Bedouins of the past, he gently roasts aromatic Arabica beans over the hot wood-burnt fire, in a small circular pan.

It is the differences in the roasting technique that makes the flavours of each region distinct, he explains, who proceeds to powder the beans when it turns just the right shade. A dash of saffron and cardamom are added after brewing to balance the high-intense, full-bodied flavour of the beverage. Occasionally, rose water is added to enhance the aroma.

He uses three types of dallah or coffee pots to prepare the coffee – one for boiling, one for filtering, and another for serving.

Head over to the ‘Mountain Environment’ section at the festival to savour another cup of hot Arabic coffee prepared in a similar manner.

With the coffee-drinking culture so deeply entrenched in the Middle Eastern culture, Sharjah Heritage Days also offers a choice of specialty coffees to cater to all tastes. At Cofina, located at the food trucks area, it is the velvety and creamy Spanish Latte that is the best seller. “Made with high quality Brazilian beans, visitors enjoy the balanced taste of coffee and sweetness it offers,” says the barista.

Italian coffee lovers can head to ‘Signature’ where the Caramel Latte and White Mocha are guaranteed to put a pep in your step.