Daniel Newman, Professor of Arabic Studies in our School of Modern Languages and Cultures, was recently invited to COP28 in Dubai to share his knowledge of the Arabic culinary tradition, recreating recipes from the 8th to the 15th centuries.
I attended COP28 (30th November-12th December) to take part in an exciting project relating to food sustainability and local heritage, in collaboration with the Barakat Trust and Al Ghadeer Emirati Crafts, a pioneering project under the aegis of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Red Crescent Authority. The aim of the association is to empower local craftswomen by providing them with a sustainable source of revenue.
The project includes a range of environmentally friendly and organic products, all of which are made from local natural materials.
Recently, Al Ghadeer has started a range of date-based sweets made by specialist female artisans to highlight the diversity of the food heritage of the UAE.
At the COP28 site in Dubai, I curated a date tasting workshop through a number of carefully selected recipes based on the medieval culinary sources from the 8th to the 15th centuries. The dishes included stuffed honeyed dates, a meat-and-date stew (tamriyya), a milky date pudding (khabis) and a cereal-based date drink (subiya). The recipes were made with historical ingredients, some of which are quite unfamiliar to today’s audiences, such as spikenard and long pepper. One of the most popular spice mixtures from the Arab culinary tradition containing twelve ingredients was recreated for the purpose of the workshops.
I also organised some interactive cooking workshops with some of the female artisans at the head office of the Al Ghadeer project in Abu Dhabi, where we recreated the dishes presented at COP28.
It was a wonderful exchange of experiences and culinary culture and history.
Find out more
- For more recipes inspired by Daniel’s research, see Eat Like A Sultan – Bringing Medieval Arab Cooking to Life
- Learn more about Professor Daniel Newman, Professor of Arabic Studies and Director of Studies in our School of Modern Languages and Cultures
- Discover food history at Durham University on our Edible History webpages
- Watch the latest episode of Durham University Kitchen for more medieval Arabic food inspiration
- Find out more about studying modern languages and cultures at Durham
- Discover what some of our other COP28 delegates learned about how humanities can help solve the climate crisis