COMMENT: Re-inventing restaurant spaces

Interior decor makes a difference in a competitive market

Opinion, Columnists

Within the GCC, hospitality and leisure still remain a key growth area, particularly in the run-up to Expo 2020. Currently, there is an increased focus on refurbishments as clients look at reinventing space rather than building new structures. The appetite for commercial space is growing and a number of distinct trends are emerging, with a marked shift towards denser, more agile spaces, and an emphasis on staff well-being and sustainability. This year, we have witnessed several awards for hotel and refurbishment commercial projects to cater to the growing demand from both international and regional tourism.

There is currently a fair amount of activity in Dubai, around the Bur Dubai, JBR, Business Bay and Dubai Creek Harbour areas, with the majority of these projects being focused on the residential, hospitality and F&B sectors. We also witnessed that many of the trades are split into single trades with only more specialised areas such as lobbies, restaurants, spas, etc. being tendered as complete interior design fit-outs.

The market still remains very competitive, and both developers and contractors are cost-conscious. Value engineering remains a key element in winning works.

Did you like this story?
Click here for more

Here are some F&B trends we witnessed recently: F&B outlets which do not require large spaces, focus on smaller, unique 200- 300 sq m spaces with more personalised experiences. We also encourage developers that we work with to build their retail and F&B units in that range.

Appetite for F&B and retail investments remains high, despite the high competition in the market.

The F&B market, characterised by a large presence of international brands, represented by regional franchise partners, remains very popular. However, we can also notice the trending variety of new local, creative, homegrown concepts that are gaining traction and popularity in the region. There is an opportunity for UAE brands to own a greater share of the F&B market, also exporting their concept overseas.

Dubai’s F&B sector is combating rising costs and declining sales with out-of-the-box thinking. Pop-up restaurants, street food and food trucks are now making inroads at malls and outdoor events and gaining popularity — all of which is excellent news for customers.

Interior schemes that clients favour these days include the use of rugged materials such as wood, concrete, raw steel and the reuse of old materials such as bricks and timbers; exposed finishes, where raw bricks and ductwork creates an industrial vibe; and the organic and natural appeal of stones, greenery and timber to keep the decor on trend.

About the Author: Tareq Khalafawi founded and established A&T Group Interiors in 2009. A&T Group Interiors is a interior fit-out contractor in the UAE. The company has since built a solid and diverse client base, as well as a robust portfolio of successful projects – including hotels, leisure and entertainment parks, retail stores and restaurants, and various commercial spaces in Dubai and the rest of UAE. Contact or visit

For all the latest hospitality news from UAE, Gulf countries and around the world, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page.

Most Popular



Human Capital Report 2017

Human Capital Report 2017

The second annual Hotelier Middle East Human Capital Report is designed to explore the issues, challenges and opportunities facing hospitality professionals responsible for the hotel industry’s most important asset – its people. The report combines the results of Hotelier Middle East's HR Leaders Survey with exclusive interviews with the region's senior human resources directors.

Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016

Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016

The Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016 provides essential business insight into this critical hotel function, revealing a gradual move towards the use of automated management and a commitment to sustainability, concerns over recruitment, retention and staff outsourcing, and the potential to deliver much more, if only the industry's "image problem" can be reversed.

From the edition

From the magazine