Buying Pork in Dubai

Consumption of pork is strictly forbidden in Islam, due to passages in the Koran that expressly ban eating the meat or blood of “swine.” This means that pig meat in all its forms is illegal in many Islamic countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia–although you’ll find beef salami, turkey bacon, and chicken sausages.

Nevertheless, a number of supermarkets in Dubai have pork sections. Signposted as being for “Non-Muslims only” — but there are no ID checks or interrogations of the buyers — these are especially common in the parts of town where Western expats are concentrated. One such supermarket is mere minutes from my front door, where a corner of the supermarket sells several kinds of pork products. But in Dubai, the true… um… Mecca of infidel dining is the Waitrose supermarket in the Dubai Mall.

It is one of the ironies of life that, having moved to the Islamic Middle East, I end up consuming more (and better pork) than I ever did in the US or Japan. This Pork Shop is enormous — larger than a Japanese convenience store — and has stunning variety that includes more than 20 types of dried sausages, 12 types of liver pâté, dozens of types of bacon, and countless other types of cuts and chops. Can you imagine a store dedicated to feasting on the flesh of swine in Muslim Arabia?

Dining out is a different story. Pork is harder to find in restaurants than alcohol — while alcohol requires a mere license, pork requires non-Muslim cooks, separate fridges and freezers, and other operational difficulties to serve. Nonetheless, quite a few restaurants, including Kisaku (perhaps the most authentic Japanese restaurant in Dubai) serve pork, and it is not that uncommon to see on the menu in Dubai.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Buying Pork in Dubai

  1. One of many reasons I could never be a Muslim or Jew is the fact that I couldn’t eat pork. Of course the major reason is that I’m an atheist, but still. :)

  2. Sir Richard Francis Burton says:

    While there are many expats in Saudi Arabia, grocery stores there sell no pork. The ARAMCO (Arab American Oil Company) has a small store that used to sell pork but no longer. Now, folks are forced to smuggle it in from Bahrain or elsewhere. Some stores in Manama will graciously label offending purchases as “chicken”. Of course, I never ate so much pork or drank as much alcohol as when I lived in the “Magic Kingdom.”

  3. Sounds very much like people who say they never had access to drugs as easily as they did in prison. Quite a bit like that, in fact.