Salem bin Dasmal, Founder Silver Spoon Investments, tells Catering News ME that the UAE must shift its dependence away from franchised restaurants to encourage home-grown enterprises to flourish
Dubai is in a very different place than it was five years ago, not just in the number of people that call the city their home and the many buildings and businesses that have sprung up in recent years,but also very notably in the culinary scene. In the last few years we have witnessed a phenomenal transformation of the restaurant business in town and I believe this the perfect time for local entrepreneurs to contribute to the success of home-grown restaurant concepts in the region.
Dubai has been incredibly successful in attracting visitors from around the globe to the Emirates for many reasons. We have firmly made our mark on the international shopping scene with the city not just being the shopping hub of the Middle East, but having becomeone of the world’smost coveted shopping destinations. The UAE’s unrivalled calendar of international events has, and continues to, attractthe world’s greatest stars in music, business, sports, film and entertainmentwith the country now being widely recognised as an international events hub, which will culminate in Dubai hosting its biggest event yet, Expo2020. In addition, Dubai has overtaken New York as the city with the largest number of five-star hotels in the world and our airport is now the busiest globally.
So what’s next? My wish is for Dubai to build a reputation for being one of the world’s “culinary cities”, known for its unique, innovative, quality and home-grown restaurants and not just its ability to attract the world’s largest number of international, franchised restaurant concepts.
I believe that as a city, we are now in a similar situation as for example London and Los Angeles. We have access to tremendous local talent and are able to get virtually anything we need from anywhere in the world.
This is why we see a general increase in food and service quality everywhere you go in Dubai and I believe this makes for the perfect time to start a home-grown restaurant business and to show the world what we can offer even the most discerning diners.
The multiculturalism of the UAE naturally lends itself to making the Emirates a melting pot of nationalities and cultures. Combined with the rich heritage and culture of the region, known globally for its warm hospitality, we have the opportunity to offer residents, and visitors alike, a truly unique and highly diverse selection of dining options that promotes Dubai as a multicultural and culinary hub.
But how do we get there? There are plenty of great examples of successful,locally created restaurant concepts that have already proven that this can be done, but I believe we need a surge in local entrepreneurship in the food and beverage sector. We need more companies like us at Silver Spoon, to invest in the development of local food & beverage concepts as well as local entrepreneurs that can support the food industry across its supply and value chain. This includes fostering local vegetable growers, encouraging local F&B design, equipment and furniture suppliers to enter the market, and nurturing local talent to take up jobs and start businesses in the restaurant sector in the UAE, making the industry a desirable career choice for Emiratis.
We have most of what’s needed to make this happen, right here on our doorstep, and yet we still have an 80/20 (80% franchise and 20% home grown) split of restaurants in the major malls in Dubai. I would like to see local concepts reverse this trend, close this gap and become rivalsfor international restaurant franchises. Many of Dubai’s home-grownhospitality and tourism businesses have become powerfulglobal brands over the last decade, including Emirates Airline, Emaar and Jumeirah, and my biggest wish would be for one of our local restaurant companies to be next. There’s no better time than now!