F&B growth in the region

F&B growth in the region

These days, the Middle East is serving up innovative flavors to consumers from all over the world. Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, discusses the region’s dynamic F&B sector and why the number of award-winning restaurants keeps on rising.

The launch of the MICHELIN Guide Dubai in 2022 was a testament to the UAE’s impressive restaurant landscape. Of course, all eyes have been on Qatar recently, and it will be interesting to see how the legacy of the FIFA World Cup continues to drive both tourism and business in the country. To cope with the demand driven by the four-week football festival, a large number of F&B venues have opened in the past six months, and I’m excited to see how they find ways to continue to evolve and differentiate.
Saudi Arabia also has ambitious plans when it comes to hospitality and tourism, so we can certainly expect expansion in the kingdom’s F&B sector.

Evolution of restaurants in the Middle East
I believe one of the best things about the Middle East is the variety of restaurants and cuisines that the region has to offer. Whether catering to tourists or residents, the Middle East boasts a melting pot of cultures and culinary delights to suit all palates. There aren’t many places in the world where you’ll find a local restaurant that serves hearty, homemade favorites next to a fine-dining restaurant that takes guests on a journey through an intricately crafted tasting menu, for example.
Restaurants have truly evolved by leveraging the diversity of the region. Such is the fast pace of the Middle East that restaurants cannot afford to stand still, and by operating in an environment that encourages innovation and experimentation, those working in the sector continue to move forward.

F&B trends
Whether it’s cultural immersion or embracing an experience that cannot be found elsewhere, the Middle East is all about memorable moments, and the F&B scene is no different. Diners are no longer settling for a traditional dining experience; instead, they seek an ambience that complements the quality of food on offer. whether that’s live cooking classes with chefs, dining in the dark, innovative pairings or out-of-the ordinary locations.
In Dubai, we recently announced an exciting collaboration with the pop-up restaurant Dasha, The Dubai Chapter. Conceived by the world-renowned chef Akira Back, the restaurant will be hosting diners for a period of six months at Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Pop-ups provide an opportunity to bring fresh and exciting experiences to the market and allow us to react to the ever-changing trends in the market. Collaborations like the aforementioned one will continue to reign in 2023, as brands work together to create something that is truly extraordinary.

The launch of the MICHELIN Guide
Those of us familiar with the F&B scene in the Middle East have always known about the high level of culinary talent on offer; but to have the most prestigious and globally recognized reference also acknowledge this takes things to the next level.
Transitioning from local to global, I am certain that interest from the world-famous MICHELIN Guide, Gault & Millau and World’s 50 Best — which we’ve had in the region for a while — will lead to more attention and an increase in quality, as restaurants push harder to be acknowledged. This can only be a good thing for us all, be it restaurant owners, foodies in the region or those who work within the sector.
Crucially, accolades help to retain talent in the Middle East, as younger chefs who aspire to work for MICHELIN-approved restaurants needn’t leave the region to pursue their dreams.

The future of the F&B sector
Hospitality in the Middle East will always pave the future, rather than being led by it. The most exhilarating part is that while Dubai may have finally received the recognition it deserves, the Middle East is still only at the very beginning when it comes to the growth potential it offers.
Finding ways to learn from the experience in Dubai and tailor it to other areas within the region is something that is only going to enhance the Middle East further. The MICHELIN Guide and World’s 50 Best will keep the industry on its toes, with those making the cut aiming to maintain their place, while the ones who narrowly missed out wanting to make 2023 their year.

Naim Maadad,
chief executive
and founder of Gates Hospitality

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