Gates Hospitality founder Naim Maadad has called for an end to the “duopoly that is actually government owned” which holds a stranglehold on the UAE’s alcohol market.
Currently MMI and African & Eastern hold the vast majority of the market in the country, and speaking at the Caterer Middle East Food & Business Conference, Maadad said operators need to “stand up for ourselves”.
Pointing to the amount that Dubai’s 11,000 restaurants contribute to the economy, Maadad said more should be done to give them support.
A number of other operators on the panel agreed with Maadad, with Felix Hartmann, EAM of Grand Plaza Movenpick, Media City, saying that “beverage suppliers are not able to adapt to our business models, making it difficult for us to run the business.”
He said that operators need to “be strong and change the way we handle this together”.
Sascha Triemer, VP of F&B at Atlantis, The Palm, also said that the current system “doesn’t make it too easy for us to operate” saying that by the time you import alcohol into the UAE “the price is already so high you won’t be able to sell it”.
In recent years the UAE has begun to relax its stance towards alcohol, with Maadad highlighting the fact that operators can now serve it during Ramadan, and all operators on the panel hoped that further measures to ease restrictions will soon be implemented.