Cigar Coop Dubai

In the latest installment of “In My Mind’s Eye,” Cigar Coop travels to the Middle East, specifically to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although this trip wasn’t related to the cigar industry, I had the opportunity to learn about the cigar culture in this region. Recently, I participated in a panel discussion about my experiences with cigar culture in the Middle East. This panel discussion took place during the Light Em Up World Show hosted by Reinhard Pohorec.

Cigar Coop Dubai

My travels took me to Dubai, where I spent nearly a week, and there was a short trip into Doha, which is located in the country of Qatar. It turns out that Reinhard and I happened to be in the Middle East the same week, but our travel schedules for Dubai were a few hours apart, so we couldn’t meet up. While we couldn’t connect in person, Reinhard did the next best thing and set up a panel discussion. Included in the panel discussion were Ra’ed Saqfelhait of The Leaf Master Tobacco Trading LLC in Dubai (who, regrettably, I didn’t get to see) and Ashish Chaturvedi of Puro Cigar Lounge in Muscat, Oman. Both Ra’ed and Ashish have been key people on the cigar scene in the Middle East.

Cigar Coop Dubai


Located on the East Coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is now the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE is a relatively new country, and Dubai has emerged only in the last 25 years as a major metropolis. UAE was formed in 1971 out of the formation of six Arab emirates. Qatar originally planned to be a part of the UAE, but they opted to go independent.

Dubai was a small fishing village in the 19th century. Eventually, it became a regional trading hub by the early 20th century. In the last 25 years, Dubai has experienced incredible growth. There was an increased focus on tourism and the luxury lifestyle. The city’s skyline boasts the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Of course, cigars fit in quite nicely with the emphasis on the luxury lifestyle.

Cigar Coop Dubai

Note: AI-driven image (I wasn’t able to get quite close enough to get this picture, so we gave a whirl)

Dubai is a melting pot of nationalities. Arabic is the primary language, but if you only speak English, you will have no problem in Dubai (as well as Doha). Given it’s a melting pot, I found it to be a friendly and welcoming place.

Cigar Coop Dubai

Speaking of melting, the weather was quite hot. During the week, the temperature reached 109 degrees F. It tends to be more humid in the evening than during the day. Humidity levels ranged from 20 to 40 percent.

Cigar Smoking in Dubai

It was relatively easy to find a lounge or a place to smoke in Dubai. There are restaurants and hotels that do allow smoking. While my business here was non-cigar related, I was glad to be able to find places to enjoy a cigar.

Upon my arrival at the hotel, I inquired about where my options were to smoke. After I was given some options, I was also offered a hotel room that allowed smoking. These are becoming fewer and farther between in the United States, but not so much in Dubai.  Naturally, I opted for a smoking hotel room.

Since the cigar industry is fascinated by airports, I will report that both Dubai and Doha airports offer smoking lounges. I’d categorize these as smoking lounges more than cigar lounges (in fact, Camel cigarettes sponsored the Dubai lounge). I learned that Emirates Airlines had a more traditional cigar-smoking lounge option for its first-class passengers, but I did not fly Emirates to the Middle East, so I did not get to see it.

Doha Airport in Qatar

The Cigar Market in Dubai

Dubai is growing not only as a city and luxury market, but also as a market for cigars. The city is witnessing the emergence of non-Cuban cigar brands. This is not solely due to the availability or lack of Cuban cigars, but also because of a market that is eager to learn about and immerse itself in cigar culture. Many cigar companies are organizing events and visits in Dubai. For instance, Reinhard represented Meerapfel Cigars in the Middle East during his visit.

One interesting point to note is that Dubai is becoming an emerging market for women cigar smokers. Given the focus on women’s rights in the Middle East, this is quite intriguing.

In our panel discussion, we also discussed cigar pricing. We noted that cigars are quite expensive in Dubai. For example, I saw a box of Padrón 1964 Anniversary cigars priced at $742.00 (USD) duty-free. Cigar prices remain high in the city, and as Ra’ed explained during the panel discussion, this can be attributed to a combination of custom fees, excise taxes, and municipal taxes, which are driving up the costs.

Light Em Up World Panel Discussion: Cigar Culture in the Middle East

This is the show we mentioned in the intro. When we did this show, Reinhard was still in Doha, Qatar, while I had already returned to the U.S. You can view the show by clicking the graphic below.

Photo/Image Credits: Cigar Coop, unless otherwise specified.