After years of growth and new concept launches, the restaurant industry in the United Arab Emirates is likely to shrink as much as 20% by next year, said Gates Hospitality CEO Naim Maadad. However, other developers and some restaurateurs say they're still seeing strong growth in the market, where dining out remains popular.
Half of mall visitors in the United Arab Emirates are there to dine, according to a CBRE study, and restaurants and food sellers will account for a fifth of all UAE mall space over the next decade, according to JLL Mena. "The trend is changing from shopping to entertainment and lifestyle," said JLL Mena retail head Andrew Williamson.
Diamond Lifestyle, the food and beverage arm of Dubai-based Al Masah Capital, has acquired UAE-based Johnny Rockets franchisee Al Faris Restaurant. The US burger concept entered the market in 1996 and today the franchisee operates 14 restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.
Franchisees with DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee's and IHOP, operate 10 restaurants in the United Arab Emirates and will open 16 more over the next five years. The focus will be on creating a smaller footprint as competition for space continues to grow.
UAE-based retail company Lulu will open its first project in India next month, a 17-acre mall in Kerala that's touted as one of the largest in the country. The project will include a Marriott hotel, an ice rink and a bowling alley as well as restaurants and stores including a Lulu hypermarket.