The camel is an important figure in Arab Culture. In the Middle East and Northern Africa, this animal is revered as a source of transportation, food, shelter and has been and integral part of Bedouin life. It is an unique animal of the desert lands and adjusted its form to the harsh desert climate with padded feet for walking on hot surfaces, its hump which contains stored energy in fat, and its wide nostrils made to conserve moisture.
As this animal is unique to this region and an integral part of Arab culture, Dubai’s urban fathers had the foresight to take this part of Bedouin life, refine it and present it to the world as something to be appreciated and something uniquely Arab.
In the world’s largest and most luxurious shopping venue, the Dubai Mall, in the center of the mall’s expansive walkway, you’ll find the Majlis Dubai. The Majlis Dubai is the ' first and finest camel milk café', located in The Dubai mall, Souk Area.
You will spot it immediately as at its entrance are two huge bronze camels with mall goers taking photos. There are many tables filled with Emirates in their local dress as well as expats all sitting talking and enjoying the various chocolates, coffees and other delicious bites. I quickly learned that the Majlis Dubai is the perfect venue to showcase something exclusive to Dubai. The first rate production of Camel products including camel milk and the ever so tasty camel milk chocolate.
Majlis Dubai is not a restaurant nor a café but a lobby lounge where one can find the unique Camel Milk Chocolate and at the same time have a convivial “Pause Café” while nibbling on fine delicate finger food within a lavish Arabian yet modern atmosphere. Majlis an Arabi term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings.
The Majlis Dubai is a unique holistic concept focusing on camel milk as a core ingredient in most of the products. Not only the coffee creations such as Camelatte and Camelccino are based on camel milk, but also all the pastries (muffins, croissants, Danish) and breads are made from this unique material. The café also serves camel milk ice cream and also camel meat and camel milk cheese products such as kanafeh and quiche.
The Majlis Dubai is conceptualized as a merge of Arabian coffee culture and modern day Dubai lifestyle, bringing tradition and modernity together. The complete concept is held together by the core ingredient, the camel milk.
It was a wonderful experience to sit, people watch in the mall, talk with friends and take in the wonderful tastes in a comfortable environment. The food was amazing from the cappuccinos, to the ice crème and the pastries. And what was amazing is that they were all made from camel products.
After this experience, I wanted to see where all these great products came from, Kirsten Lange, the Communications Director and host supreme arranged for us to take a tour of the camel farm that produces the milk, chocolate, and other delicious bites that we experienced at the Majlis.
Far on the outskirts of Dubai, you’ll find the EMIRATES INDUSTRY FOR CAMEL MILK & PRODUCTS (EICMP) which is a camel farm and production facility. It is the top one in the world that produces camel products including milk, chocolates, and other products we were excited to take a tour. The farm is currently home to about 3,400 camels producing about 5,000 liters of raw camel milk per day.
After donning our special hygienic shoe covers to enter the facility we are escorted by Kirsten who knows everything about camels, the farm, and their products.
Camels are very highly intelligent and have distinct personality and appearance. From the coloration of the fur to the shape of the head and ears to the one of kind personality, the more you are around them the more you can appreciate them. The camels are very well treated on this expansive farm, they are milked once a day and the mothers are able to stay with their calves for up to a year.
Along the tour we learned about the health benefits of Camel milk which is often considered the next super food. Camel milk is lower in fat content, higher in natural vitamin C and rich in unsaturated fatty acids. It supports the immune system and is non-‐allergenic. The content of the milk protein lactoferrin is ten times higher than in cow milk and gives camel milk anti-‐viral and anti-‐bacterial properties. Camel milk contains a high level of minerals, giving it its slightly salty taste.
Camel milk is more difficult to produce and not widely distributed around the world. Unlike cows, camels are not producing a vast amount of milk on a daily basis. The milking process is complicated and the daily quantity per camel varies between two to ten liters-‐ if any, since camels are very particular about milking conditions. An unhealthy camel might not supply any milk at all. That's what makes camel milk a very precious and exquisite product.
The camels at the EICMP farm get the best hay and grass. They are showered regularly; using special soaps and pedicure are normal treatments on the farm in order to prevent skin disease and injuries to the hoof. The camels can move freely on a 4.5 km-‐walking trail. Top veterinarians make sure that all camels are strong and healthy.
The UAE production facility incorporates latest technologies and meets the most stringent regulations. The facility has recently been listed the first camel milk production facility in the Middle East to receive EU Commission approval to export its products to the EU zone.
The facility produces the popular “Camelicious” camel milk, which is available in plain and flavored varieties including strawberry, dates, saffron, and chocolate. Research continues to develop even more flavors and products. New to the UAE market is also a variety of cheeses.
From this milk, they have created Al Nassma chocolate. It is the first and finest Camel milk chocolate in the world and has a very smooth and with a unique flavor. The chocolate has been made with the highest standards to be on par with the finest Swiss or German chocolates. It is now sold throughout the world from specialty boutiques in Europe and in Asia. They have created a large variety of products including pralines, chocolate bars and camel figures. One of my favorites is the Macadamia- Orange… crunchy, smooth, and full of flavor.
Al Nassma Chocolate worked with a team of international experts from Austria and Germany to realise this unique Arabian product. These chocolatiers from around the world have teamed up to create this sensational chocolate superlative for Dubai. Al Nassma is a true innovation in the chocolate industry and one of the first luxury food products with deep roots in Dubai, deemed to conquer the world as the sweet ambassador of Arabia.
The objective of the EICMP was to refine a product unique in the world and to do it a the highest level. Dubai is about being the best. The founding fathers of the EICMP set the goal to take something that is vital to the lives and heritage of the Arab people, the Camel, and to place its products at the top of the world.
My visit to the farm and Marjlis was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of it and learned so much about this amazing animal, the health benefits of the milk, and its integral part of Arab heritage. The way that the city fathers have revered this part of its Bedouin heritage and presented on the world stage is impressive in an ever so tasty way. See the full story and more photos at Arabia Escapes.