In Dubai, ‘Gourmet Water’ Injected with Minerals

30 July 2023

New kinds of drinks like smoothies, lattes, beers, and cocktails have become popular in recent years. Now a place in Dubai is serving what it claims to be "gourmet water."

Thirty different kinds of it.

The Aqua Water Bar by Luqel gets its water the traditional way – from the pipe that runs water to your house. The government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates says water from the pipe, called tap water, is safe to drink and meets international standards. But people in the Middle Eastern city still prefer bottled water.

Roia Jabari, managing director of AQUA Water Bar by LUQEL poses at her store in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on July 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Roia Jabari, managing director of AQUA Water Bar by LUQEL poses at her store in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on July 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The water at Aqua Water Bar is said to be different. The bar says it injects a very small amount of minerals, called micro-dosing, into the water. The system is designed by the German water filtration company Luqel. And its water is compared to costly water like Alpine or Arctic-sourced.

Roia Jabari is a director at Aqua Water. She said experts have designed its water to fit your "needs and mood." And she added, "We can give you the perfectly mineralized recipe."

One drink, "Runners Heaven," is high in sodium and potassium to help runners after being in the desert heat. Another, "Vegan's Choice," offers minerals that could be lacking when not eating meat. Buyers can fill up their bottles with any of the mineral combinations for around 50 cents per 500 milliliters or pay more for a nonalcoholic mixed drink.

It is not an entirely new idea.

A water bar serving what it said was heavily filtered New York City tap water opened in the city's East Village area in 2012. It received heavy criticism. Another briefly opened in Washington, DC in 2019. It also did not get the best reviews. Neither appears to have stayed open for very long.

But Dubai, a modern city built on desert sands, could be such a place for the product.

Alcohol is available in bars in the UAE, but the Muslim country's population does not drink alcohol. As a center of international business, it brings in wealthy, health-centered people who support the wellness industry.

Although Aqua Water is often visited by businessmen who work in the surrounding Dubai Media City, Jabari says that the bar is not just for wealthy buyers. She says the water, which sells for 54 cents per 500 milliliters, is not too costly.

To help the environment, buyers can either fill their own bottles or buy a reusable one starting at around $2.50.

Early reviews appear to be good, with the bar having 4.6 stars on Google reviews based on around 12 reviews. "(The water) was actually different," said Bilal Rizvi, who stopped in to try it out recently.

Jabari was born in San Diego, California, and is a designer who has lived in the UAE for 24 years. She designed the bar around ideas based on water. Additionally, the bar also serves Persian food as a way to honor her ancestry.

Jabari hopes to expand the business. She sees room for growth in neighboring countries. She said, "Saudi Arabia is a huge market for us. I believe that Abu Dhabi is our next step."

I'm Gregory Stachel.

Nick El Hajj reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

gourmet n. a person who enjoys and knows a lot about good food and wine

bar n. a building or room where alcoholic drinks and sometimes food are served

mood n. the way someone feels

recipe n. a set of instructions for making food

filter v. to pass (something, such as a gas or liquid) through a filter to remove something unwanted

review n. a report that gives someone's opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.