Comment: It's not just Dubai that's growing

Why we need to hear from F&B operators and developers throughout the region about their projects

Sarah Jacotine, editor of Caterer Middle East.
Sarah Jacotine, editor of Caterer Middle East.

Like many magazines that cover the Middle East but that are published in Dubai, it can be easy for Caterer Middle East to be rather Dubai-centric in its coverage.

There is, however, always enough happening in the Dubai F&B industry that even just the goings-on in the space of a month could fill the magazine 10 times over. And if it wasn’t quite so easy in this city to find interesting stories and fascinating case studies to bring you in Caterer, we could rely purely on the hundreds of PR and marketing teams to pick up the phone and tell us about Dubai’s outlets, as they do on a daily basis.

Even compared with the other six emirates, the scales are firmly tipped in Dubai's favour in this respect. Being mindful of this, we always endeavour to report on the wider region and gauge how other counties in the Middle East are progressing on their culinary journey.

Lately I have noticed more updates flowing in way from Saudi Arabia in particular; it seems the GCC nation is welcoming a new fast-food chain or casual-dining franchise — often from the US — almost as quickly as Dubai opens Japanese restaurants.

I spoke to regular Caterer columnist Duncan Fraser-Smith, who is an expert in this field as the company he founded — The Cutting Edge Agency — helps develop and creates concepts throughout the region. He assured me that, at the moment, there is plenty of interest in launching restaurants and purchasing brands outside of the UAE, in countries like Saudi, Qatar and Bahrain especially.

However, he did reveal that it is important to people who are spearheading F&B projects in GCC countries other than the UAE to still have a presence in the UAE, “whether it be their flagship offering or a satellite outlet” — highlighting its standing as a focal point in the industry.

While, as mentioned, more Saudi F&B news has come our way in recent months, it isn’t even a fraction of the Dubai related updates, despite there being a number of projects underway. And, with developments we are already aware of in GCC counties, often requests to hotels for information and the subsequent follow-ups don't lead anywhere, which is a shame as everyone reading this magazine would like industry news, interviews and insights from the whole region, rather than one city, albeit an exciting, fast-paced one.

F&B operators in the likes of Kuwait, Oman and Lebanon could do well to take a leaf out of their Dubai counterparts’ book, drop me a line and make sure their projects are getting the attention they merit.

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