My Journey to the World of Restaurants by the chairman of law firm Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla discusses culinary tourism, industry and culture
He’s known as one of the UAE’s most prominent lawyers, but the chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla has forgone law as the theme of his new book, opting for food as the topic instead.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Dr Habib Al Mulla said his Arabic language book My Journey to the World of Restaurants aims to introduce the ‘culture of food’ to Arab readers in particular.
“The aim of my book is to introduce the culture of food to the Arab reader," Al Mulla said. "There are many books in English that explain the history of food and restaurants, and how the culinary world evolved, but there are none in Arabic. This is what my book attempts to achieve.
"I’ve devoted a full chapter on the history of restaurants and how they evolved into what they are today. I also cover the influence of Muslims and Arabs on the global culinary culture,” he added.
Al Mulla said his book does not revolve around cooking, neither does it serve as a reviewer of restaurants.
“My book is not about cooking. Book stores are full of cooking books. I also do not intend my book to serve as a reviewer of restaurants. There are guides and sites that serve that purpose,” he said.
My Journey to the World of Restaurants, which took Al Mulla one year to complete, includes different types of restaurants, cuisines and rating systems, while it also discusses culinary tourism, industry and culture, as well as various booking systems used by restaurants.
“I want to introduce the world of culinary culture and experience to the Arab reader, as we have a rich culinary history that has influenced many cuisines around the globe, yet we have not managed to ‘market’ and ‘industrialise’ our heritage in a proper way,” he explained.
Al Mulla’s book also includes the chairman’s own culinary experiences, which revolve around the social methods, manners and behaviours attached to food tasting.
“I want the reader to know a whole world that is out there. It is not just about tasting food. Food is a culture, art and industry,” he said.
Al Mulla is one of the UAE’s most prominent lawyers, having made history in 2013 when his firm Habib Al Mulla because the first Emirati legal practice to merge with an international firm, Baker McKenzie.
When asked behind the reason he chose food over law as the subject of his book, he revealed the topic had been a personal passion since his earlier days.
“I am being asked this question often since I signed with the publisher. Some of my friends even said that they expected my book to be on legal issues or for me to cover my legal career experience. But food has always been a passion for me,” he said, adding that his friend Professor Abdulkhalik Abdulla was the first to suggest the idea of recording his culinary experiences.
“At the beginning, I wasn’t sure [my experiences were worth] recording, neither was I sure of what I could record. But with encouragement from friends, I started writing and was surprised that I managed to write 220 pages,” he said.
My Journey to the World of Restaurants will be launched during the 37th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which will take place from October 31 to November 10 at the Sharjah Expo Centre. It will also be available in leading book stores in the UAE.
The 11-day SIBF will see renowned Arab and international writers, artists, intellectuals and performers take part in discussions, debates, readings, workshops and cultural shows for adults and children.