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23/06/2015 Blog by Conceptional

Dubai: paving the way for local entrepreneurship

Dubai is a definition by itself which stands for bigger, faster, more expensive and more massive. Yet, because of the crisis in 2009, a large part of the developments were shut down. But Dubai is on its way back to the top, with interesting new developments, also in the field of foodservice.


Dubai’s government is working hard to transform the city into an international metropolis: the aim is to make Dubai more sustainable and less venerable to negative influences from abroad. Bringing in the Expo 2020 is a boost to the morale and provides investments. Expats return, constructions are being resumed, new projects are launched and the stock market is improving. In addition, tourism is growing rapidly. All this positivism provides favorable conditions for the foodservice market to evolve, with major brands from all over the world, but also a growing number of local grown concepts. We see a shift from 5-star luxury restaurant concepts to more mid-priced concepts.


The quality of the Food & Beverage in restaurants has certainly improved in recent years. At this point, Dubai can measure up with the best Food & Beverage destinations in the world. The next step is for the “local” population to create it’s own home grown Food & Beverage concepts. The situation can be compared to London twenty years ago: a city with little to no culinary heritage that imported strong brands from abroad which evolved into new and original Food & Beverage concepts.

From international brands…

Since the ’60s franchising has been an important business model in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf region. All major Food & beverage brands are situated here; from The Cheesecake Factory to Jones the Grocer. The favorable demographics, multi-etnic population and the high disposable income create an attractive environment for foodservice operators who want to expand internationally. However, a crucial factor for success is finding the right local business partner that provides the necessary business contacts and experience in the region.

…to local and original entrepreneurship

Although the demand for international brands and formulas remain high in the Middle East, we notice a shift to local grown (franchise) brands. The coming years the development of these regional chains can be expected. This mainly concerns independent, locally based, mid-priced brands. These brands will then extend to the Gulf region, and after, to the rest of the world.

An example is Tom & Serg in Dubai. A totally different concept than Dubai is used to, which is also the main reason for their success. The Food & Beverage sector in the UAE is overflowing with franchises and multinationals which lack personality. Tom & Serg found the gap and created a people-driven, transparant and fair concept. They make a statement with both the food and the interior. The interior is industrial yet warm and homey.The menu consist of organic coffee and simple but tasty dishes. They create a perfect balance between good coffee and qualitative, nutritious and gourmet food at an affordable price.

An example that also anticipates to the human and social aspect is Markette. The purpose of Markette is to create a social space in the form of a restaurant-café. Here, they aspire to bring the nostalgia of the “kitchen table” to their customers. The restaurant is filled with kitchen cabinets and utensils integrated with a bit of “structured messiness”, just like in the family kitchen. It creates a homey and casual atmosphere.
Markette offers guests an all day selection of food and drinks including waffles, crêpes, salads and other comfort food.

In short, the foodservice market in Dubai is developing itself, with new, distinctive and locally-grown concepts that are gradually going to fill the gaps in the foodservice market in Dubai. We would like to share a few of our favorite concepts through the movie below.

Dubai: facts and figures
Dubai has a total surface of 4.114 m2 which is about as big as the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. In 2013, the population consisted of about 2,1 million inhabitants. Only 17% of this population was originally an Emirati, the rest of the population consisted of expatriates. Unlike the surrounding countries, the oil industry is not Dubai’s main source of income. Dubai’s economy mainly depends on construction, tourism, trade and transport. In 2014, Dubai hosted 12 million tourists in 9.300 hotel rooms spread across 657 hotels. Dubai International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the world and is the main source of visitors, with a total of 70 million passengers in 2014. The passenger traffic at Dubai International is expected to grow to 79 million passengers in 2015. Also the Food & Beverage sector inDubai is expected to grow in the coming years. The Food & Beverage sector will have to quadruple in the next five years in order to meet the demand of the hotel and retail projects that are currently under development. At the moment there are 6.021 Food & Beverage outlets in the UAE, but about 19.000 extra outlets are expected in 2019. With this developments a growth of about 8% in revenue is expected.


Conceptional has years of national and international experience in developing food & beverage concepts. We recently started the development of several food & beverage concepts in the UAE.


During the development of an food & beverage concept, we keep in mind the latest trends and developments in the foodservice industry. 


Please contact us if you’ve got any questions related to this blog or if you want more information about Conceptional’s projects and services.

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