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Gates Hospitality Chief Naim Maadad on the new voice of the industry

Earlier this year, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced the establishment of the Restaurants Business Group, a new organisation that will support the sector by unifying the voices of member companies.

Here, Gates Hospitality Founder and Chief Executive Naim Maadad shares his views on being a part of food and beverage’s newest representative body.

Tell us more about Dubai’s Restaurants Business Group; what are some of its main goals and why was it established?
The vision of the Restaurants Business Group is to be the primary representative body of the food and beverage industry, providing members with comprehensive, validated resources and guidance for sustained business growth.

Our mission is to promote and be a catalyst force in industry development by sharing best practices and improving the competitiveness of our members’ businesses; be a respected voice of action for Dubai’s food and beverage industry by acting as a synergistic liaison hub between businesses and government; and connect various disciplines of the industry.

You are among the F&B leaders who have joined the body; what are your main goals and what does your role entail?
I was invited to join the group, a non-profit body under the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was inaugurated with an aim to serve common interests and tackle restaurant sector challenges through cooperation with relevant authorities in the emirate.

My experience of nearly four decades in the multiple fields of hotels, resorts, food and beverage, spas and wellness, and more was taken into consideration and the main reason for the invite being extended. The main goal is to contribute through my experience, and it being a time for reflection in an effort to give back to the industry.

With a wide variety of restaurant businesses in Dubai constituting a part of the body, the new entity provides a platform to share knowledge and make policy recommendations by unifying the voices of member companies.

How has the group’s importance been underlined as venues all over Dubai were reopening, and continue to do so?
The Restaurants Business Group has just been formed and we’re still setting up the administration, defining our scope, heavily investing in culinary industry best practices, and representing food and beverage entities with a unifying voice.

How would you describe the city’s F&B industry? Is it very different now from how it used to be a while back?
The city of Dubai is very vibrant with a unique congregation of high-value local brands, as well as truly global brands, in an extremely positive way. The very welcoming support extended by government authorities, as well as the wonderful infrastructure, were the main reasons for the huge success of businesses across industries.

It’s certainly very different now – as it is globally in the post-pandemic environment. However, given the vibrancy of the city of Dubai, we’re confident that the industry will definitely bounce back and become even better than before with the much-needed support of all stakeholders. We’re indeed on the right track for future enhancement.

What are some of the biggest challenges that the industry is facing, and how do you see the landscape evolving?
The biggest challenges in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic are the demographic changes, market correction on all fronts of the commercial trade, population size and disproportion in supply and demand.

The landscape is still evolving and all stakeholders in the industry need to refuel the revival of the economy with due diligence on all fronts. There needs to be conducive environment created, in which operators work on projects that complement each other and do not compete, destroying and undercutting mutual opportunities of growth. We will focus on enforcing confidence and encourage all to act responsibly.

Months ago, you had remarked that “nobody was going to make money” in Dubai’s F&B sector this year. Do you still hold the same views?
Unfortunately, the reality of my comment still stands and holds true. There was a specific period in the year wherein the industry was completely under lockdown – but the overheads were still incurred and locked in.

We’re hugely confident that, with the support of the local government authorities and strength of Brand Dubai, there would be a path to revival soon with the opening up of the city as well as the push for economic growth.

The reactivation process will take place in a safe and reopened environment with the Expo 2020 event in October 2021 as the climax relaunch. Certainly, it’s an expected positive vibe in times ahead. The liveliness will certainly return to Dubai as it always does…

How does the group aim to support businesses over the coming period of time?
The Restaurants Business Group will earnestly support members via a unified voice and represent the fraternity through various channels, which will work in harmony and transparency with the entire supply chain in the short-, medium- and long-term.