By Laura Barnes
Marketed as a world-class culinary destination, the rest of the world thinks otherwise.
I had the privilege of attending the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants last month. Held in London, it honoured the best of the best in the culinary world, and reached all parts of the globe, from the Americas, through to Europe, Africa and Australia.
One area that was missing though was the Middle East, with the top 50 list not even giving the slightest nod of approval to this region, or indeed Arabic cuisine. I had to ask myself, and other members of the judging panel why this was.
For them, the answer was simple; they had not visited the region and therefore could not vote for any restaurants in the Middle East. But perhaps more significantly, the regions that did come out on top - France, the US, Spain and the UK - all have an illustrious heritage in cuisine.
So the key word here is heritage. The Middle East is a new market when it comes to many things, least of all cooking. It has only been over the past few years that chefs have really started to make their mark in this region.
But with Dubai marketing itself as a world-class destination and with thousands of visitors and businessmen visiting each year, surely one restaurant would have made the cut?
As it happens, Verre by Gordon Ramsay was featured in the top 100 list, but as one of Dubai's best restaurants, one would have hoped it could have come higher up the list, which I'm sure it would have done if more people from across the globe had visited it.
But it is evident there is a long way to go to raise the profile of the region's culinary skills, which can only be done once the general standard is raised. Indeed, Rome wasn't built in a day, but the Middle East and Dubai in particular, needs to reassess its culinary offering if it wants to compete with the likes of Per Se, Bras, Tetsuya's, Noma and Le Gavroche at next year's awards.