“Owls are symbols of good fortune and luck in Japan.” Unknown
Inspired by Japan’s popular animal cafes, Boomah Owl Café has opened at The Walk at Al Seef in Abu Dhabi. My first animal cafe experience was in Tokyo last year at one of the famous cat cafes in Harajuku which is also home to hedgehog and owl cafes. While there is a cat cafe in Dubai (Ailuromania Cafe), Boomah (meaning owl in Arabic) Owl Café is the first animal cafe in the capital. The space is divided into two areas separated by a glass wall, the parliament (group) of owls are one side of the glass and the small cafe on the other.
A regular visitor to Japan, Emirati entrepreneur Mohamed Al Shehhi, the self titled father of owls, has realised his dream of opening an Owl Café in Abu Dhabi. The different species of owls perch on bars in a contained room with a separate entrance, you can watch them through the glass while you sit and drink your coffee. Entrance fees of AED 70 (adult) and AED 50 (child) are charged for the owl interaction. You are taken in small groups to meet the owls with a handler where you learn about the different species, can stroke the owls under supervision and hold them on your arm.
The owls of various sizes, ages and breeds have acute eyesight and hearing, they are definitely watching your every move as you make your way around the room. Two things surprised me, firstly I thought the owls were nocturnal and secondly I didn’t know you could stroke an owl, who by the way are so unbelievably soft. You follow the procedure of showing the owl your hand before you stroke the top of their head, their beaks are very sharp so always good to follow the instructions. All the owls can be stroked except Saturn, the male Rock Eagle Owl who is pretty feisty and doesn’t like human contact. My favourite was Moon, a Great Grey Owl who hails from Northern American and Alaska which explains her abundance of feathers.
The cafe, which is still in its soft opening phase, has a limited menu with speciality coffee, hot and cold specials, smoothies, mocktails and a selection of teas. Food wise there’s a Boomah Acai bowl and cookies. Animal cafes are not without controversy attracting criticism for keeping animals in captivity but if you want to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds of pray this is the place to do it.
Boomah Owl Café
Location: The Walk at Al Seef, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 441 9041
Opening times: Open daily 3pm -10pm* (closed on Tuesdays)
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2020. All rights reserved. *Soft opening phase