New Dubai café is founder’s “love letter to Palestine”

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By Zahra Rashid

Dubai, UAE – Mishkah, a newly opened café in Dubai, is the founder’s love letter to his home country, Palestine. 

Hasan Al-Zeer, founder and CEO of the coffee shop, told Dubai Eye FM? Why not you? that he wanted his brand to reflect what Palestine truly means to him.

“For me, Palestine is the olive oil, the smell of olive, the calm olive-green colour. We want people to come in and feel that same vibe,” he said.

The café is based around showcasing Palestinian ingredients like olives and zaatar. These ingredients are incorporated in their dishes.

Heba Mohamed, who visited Mishkah with her husband, said she tried the zaatar chocolate cheesecake. 

“I would have never thought that those two flavours would go well together but I enjoyed it a lot,” said Mohamed. 

The café, located in Al Quoz Industrial Area, also doubles as an olive oil station. Customers can fill up bottles of oil directly imported from Palestine. 

Each olive oil bottle has the slogan “from farm to table” printed on it. Al-Zeer said this is because all the ingredients they use are picked from farms in Palestine by elderly women and are sent directly to Dubai for distribution. 

The interior of the coffee shop is minimalistic, designed with a variety of Palestinian textiles and prints. In the center of the café stands a real olive tree trunk, surrounded by tables and chairs for customers to dine. Tabletops are staged with miniature figures that represent Palestinian culture like clay pots and furniture, as well as Palestinian books. One of the walls in the shop is covered in frames with pictures of many Palestinian families and landmarks.

When asked about the meaning of Mishkah, Al-Zeer said it is an Arabic word that comes from a Quranic verse where God describes the light of his face through an analogy of an oil lamp.

“The verse says that the light of God’s face is neither east, nor west. It is a very deep meaning,” he said. 

Bravo Genje, the supervisor of Mishkah, said the café is all about heritage.

“I think the olive tree here symbolizes going back to the roots of Palestinian culture,” he said.

Al-Zeer said he came up with the idea of Mishkah with his friend and partner Khalid during quarantine in 2020. 

Mishkah is a café that is all about Palestinian heritage.