F&B focus at The Hotel Show's Vision Conference

The second day of The Vision Conference will highlight F&B, with discussions on chefs' challenges, catering to demand for new concepts, and more
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The Pointe development
The Pointe development

The second day of the Vision Conference will have an F&B-themed focus, with hotel chefs and developers discussing the future of dining in Dubai and the wider MENA region.

The day will begin with Dubai-based master developer Nakheel, The Hotel Show Dubai’s retail and hospitality partner for 2015, providing a keynote on “Shaping the face of the Retail and Hospitality landscape in Dubai”.

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Nakheel CEO Sanjay Manchanda said: “As one of the world’s leading developers, Nakheel continues to deliver a wide range of projects that are fully aligned with the Government of Dubai’s vision for 2021. Our growing range of retail and hospitality developments is set to provide new destinations for Dubai’s tourists and residents while offering extensive opportunities for new hospitality and F&B concepts.”

Christine Davidson, group event director of the dmg events hospitality portfolio including The Hotel Show said: “F&B has always been a key driver in hotel revenues and guest attraction, and is always a key discussion point at The Hotel Show Dubai. With significant retail, hotel and leisure development across the whole region, the range and quality of F&B offers is growing at a pace.”

The Address Dubai Marina executive chef Avinash Mohan, taking part in “The Chefs debate” panel, said: “Emerging F&B trends coming to Dubai include: healthcare to come in joint venture with the food industry in an innovative manner; restaurant themes revolving around more interactive cooking; interactive menus and a shift in giving experiences to engage as many senses as possible; and impossible food such as meats and cheeses made entirely from plants.”

Media One Hotel executive chef Girish Babu added: “Generation Y is the new customer base for restaurants. In character they are social, want value for money, like social or communal eating, have high drive in exploring new concepts, and prefer healthy options. However, their priority is fast and tasty rather than quality. As a result, restaurant themes are evolving to become fast and casual with a focus on value for money, simple service and friendly staff.”

He continued: “Emerging trends in Dubai restaurants and menus include sharing options, the modernisation of older classics, street food, and other cuisine from Africa, Cuba, the West Indies and Asia, where fried grass hoppers and wasp is popular. With emerging market conditions and supply becoming stronger in Asia, this scene will become more apparent and soon. Other trends in cuisine include the consumption of more green vegetables and healthier food, infused teas, smoked foods and earth, raw food or super food.”

Other sessions include 'New F&B projects, new territories and pioneering concepts'. Speaker Waqar Ahmed Mirza, international commercial director of McQueen’s Group, a British culinary institution with a school in Dubai, said: “Dubai is seeing increases in wealth and a rise in expats from all over the world. This is resulting in more demand for foreign food brands, while basic mass foods such as burgers, pizzas and chicken are moving up into the luxury bracket. The future is slice, dice and rise.”

Omar El Meghawry, deputy CEO of First Equity Partners, also contributing to this panel added: “The population in the MENA region has almost grown by 52% since the 1990’s and is expected to grow by 102% by the 2030’s, and this fast population growth is a major driver for the F&B sector. The food industry in the GCC is a highly consolidated market with three top market players Almarai, Savola and Kuwait Food Company (Americana). All segments of the food sector, except livestock, are highly monopolistic.”

Kempinski Hotel Ajman hotel manager Kai Schukowski said: “People are hungry for a new approach and concept and are looking for variety and experiences so they’re surprised during their meal. There is a trend in hoteliers, even in luxury hotels, providing a more casual dining atmosphere and standalone restaurants, so that restaurants are attractions of their own accord.”

Kroma managing director Nicholas Couvaras added: “We are definitely seeing an increase in the amount of homegrown brands entering the market, bringing fresh and innovative concepts to the UAE.”

Tahir Shah, founder of Moti Roti, will contribute to the panel on “F&B brands, concepts and opportunities”. He said: “Dubai’s emerging consumer is tired of air-conditioned commercial enclosures, brand shopping and fine dining. They are looking for real life, street life, culture. Restaurants now have to become social spaces with great ambiences from design, to music, to staff. Street food has finally caught up in this region, due to the popularity of food markets and festivals. Urban and street themes including industrial-chic are big in café and restaurant design and giving customers a change from formal stuffy restaurants.

"Dubai's F&B scene has the potential to be greatly developed by entrepreneurs who want to contribute culture, which should be fostered. Collaboration is also hugely beneficial for the local F&B economy, whether local suppliers, or restaurants who tag together to form "super-groups" at festivals or group private catering.”

The Hotel Show Dubai and the Vision Conference 2015 will take place September 28-30, 2015 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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