Abu Dhabi rolls out restaurant ratings system

Government to grade hotel eateries under push to bolster standards

Abu Dhabi will roll out a new ratings system for the city’s restaurants in 2012 in a bid to bolster the standard of outlets in the UAE capital, the emirate’s tourism authority has said.
The rankings will be introduced in phases, beginning with restaurants housed within hotels. It is the first time the Abu Dhabi government has graded dining outlets and forms part of a wider push to improve tourism standards
“We want to raise the service standard,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). “Tourists are very smart; they compare. If they go to the same chain of hotel in different cities, they complain if the service standards are not met.
Primarily the ratings will be judged on service standards in restaurants, rather than food safety – an area covered by the city’s Food Standards Authority.

“To be competitive, to provide a better experience, usually you leave it to each association, but we don’t have restaurant associations in this country or in this region in general,” Al Muhairi said. “If you leave it to the market, they don’t necessarily take it seriously.”
The UAE capital introduced a five-star ratings scheme to grade accommodation in hotels in 2009, replacing a scheme that allowed properties to rate themselves. Only three hotels were downgraded under the new criteria, said Al Muhairi, which ranks hotels on areas such as the quality of furniture and amenities.
“We started with hotels, now we want to go to the next phase. We developed what we think is one of the most updated hotel classification systems. We worked on that with the hotels and now we want to do that for the restaurants,” he said.
The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. Abu Dhabi is spending billions on visitor attractions such as the Yas Island development, which is scheduled to open a US $165m water park in early 2013.
The industry currently accounts for 10 percent of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil GDP and 3.2% of overall revenues.
Al Muhairi said Abu Dhabi was on track to achieve its target of receiving two million hotel guests by the year-end, aided by unrest in traditional tourism spots such as Egypt and Tunisia.

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