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The UAE’s F&B sector set to boom post-pandemic

Article-The UAE’s F&B sector set to boom post-pandemic

Dubai Marina Restaurant
The F&B sector in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is projected to grow by 26% in the next 3 years, Euromonitor predicts.

Despite being heavily impacted by restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 over the past 18 months, the industry is now set to make a rapid recovery, according to a new report by JLL.

The successful roll-out of the UAE’s vaccine programme as compared globally and recent lifting of restrictions in restaurants and hotels are just two of the factors contributing to the sector’s forecasted recovery.

Speaking at the Arabian & African Hospitality Investment Conference (AHIC) this week, Alexis Marcoux-Varvatsoulis, Foodservice Consulting Lead at JLL MENA, highlighted the “higher levels of overseas visitors due to travel restrictions continuing to ease globally and improving consumer confidence among the resident population” as further driving forces.


In an analysis of over 45,000 foodservice units across the UAE, KSA and Europe, Dubai topped the list for number of outlets per person and variety regarding category and cuisine.

Fast-foods are particularly popular in the GCC with just under half of all food outlets in Saudi Arabia (44%) and over a third in the UAE (32%) falling into this category. While in Europe, full-service restaurants are more prominent at 56%, versus 35% in the UAE and 25% in Saudi Arabia.

Regionally, there are notable differences in foodservice offerings between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Owing to its greater number of international visitors and larger ex-pat population, Dubai has more casual dining restaurants (31%) than Abu Dhabi (24%).

A vast majority (80%) of the region’s 340 fine dining restaurants are in Dubai, located in the areas of the city with the highest apartment rents, namely the Dubai Marina and DIFC.


The evolution of the F&B sector in Dubai and Abu Dhabi of recent has marked a rise in the number of home-grown brands, such as Orange Hospitality, Solutions Leisure, and Gates Hospitality, whose unique foodservice concepts are shaping the domestic and global foodservice sector.

Dinnertainment, a concept which combines F&B and entertainment within one outlet, is a trend which is set to continue growing in popularity as people seek noteworthy social experiences post-pandemic.

According to Paul Evans, Founder and CEO of Solution Leisure and Creator of Wavehouse, “full-bodied, sensory-driven experiences” that “cater to the middle-man of the UAE – offering that VIP, feel-good, personalized service that Dubai’s elite hospitality sector is so well-recognised for, at an approachable and affordable price point,” categorises the future of F&B.

Food halls, of which six already exist in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi are also expected to grow in number in the region over the coming years. Currently, nine in ten food halls are located in malls or retail complexes, yet JLL predicts that stand-alone food halls will soon be developed in local areas, acting as social hubs for communities.


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