People in Dubai still love to eat out despite a sluggish economy. Image Credit: File photo

Dubai: Some companies may not be making as much brisk business as they used to, but you’d probably won’t see it in the local food and beverage industry.

Every month, approximately close to 100 new restaurants and coffee shops open their doors in Dubai, as people continue to eat out rather than at home.

According to the latest data from the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) division in the Department of Economic Development (DED), at least 1,109 new dining venues and cafes opened in Dubai in 2018, up by 9.7 per cent from a year earlier.

With the additional business outlets, the total number of restaurants and cafes serving tourists and residents in the emirate reached 11,813 as of the latest count.

Fine food, specialty coffee or deserts aren’t exactly the staples of a sluggish economy, but the city’s restaurateurs are still setting up new shops, and this is thanks to the entry of new hotels, shopping malls, theme parks and other infrastructure projects.

Over the past several years, the UAE’s food and beverage market grew 22 per cent from $10.8 billion in 2013 to a projected size of $13.2 billion in 2018, according to Aaron Allen & Associates.

“Buoyed by continued government expenditures on domestic construction and development projects, the food and beverage industry in the UAE has remained above the fray of fluctuating oil prices and geopolitical developments,” the restaurant consultancy firm said in its 2018 report.

“The upcoming 2020 Expo in Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 diversification plans are fostering ongoing investment.”

The UAE’s economic growth is expected to accelerate to 3.7 per cent this year, up from 2.9 per cent in 2018, as the country is recovering from the slowdown caused by low oil prices, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The government of Abu Dhabi has also unveiled last year a Dh50 billion stimulus package to get the economy moving forward.

Businesses have also benefited from a number of new policy changes recently announced, including the waiver of fees, a move that is seen to provide a relief to entrepreneurs.

Dubai has commissioned a number of projects in preparation for the hosting of the World Expo next year, including new malls and expansions, hotels, housing projects and theme parks.

“The addition of several new malls, hotels, airport and neighbourhood expansions as well as theme parks and sports stadiums all offer local restaurant operators the opportunity to enter new markets or explore franchise opportunities.”


The BRL report also showed that among the businesses that have opened in the food and beverage industry, the majority are operated by Indians, followed by Pakistanis, Egyptians and British nationals.

Investors from Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and the United States are also among the top ten.

So far, there are at least 151, 127 workers employed in restaurants and cafes in Dubai.

Among the popular areas in the emirate, Bur Dubai is home to the highest number of food and beverage businesses, accounting for 4,785 restaurants and 2,527 cafes.

Deira is the second most popular, with 2,780 restaurants and 1,677 cafes, followed by Hatta, with 29 restaurants and 15 cafes.

The restaurant and café scene in Downtown Burj Khalifa is also thriving, with 590 outlets, as well as Ayal Nasser, with 405 venues and Al Marar, with 363.

In Jumeirah 1, there are at least 356 food and beverage businesses, while at least 349 are found in Al Karama and 310 are located in Al Barsha 1.

Hor Al Anz has 256 outlets, while Al Muraqabat has 205 and Al Garhoud has 169.

“The restaurants and cafes’ sector is one of the fastest growing in the region, especially in Dubai, as the emirate is home to people from across the world,” said Abdulaziz bin Hathboor, director of customer relation division at BRL said.

“More than 200 nationalities live and work in Dubai, which is today among the top destinations in the world. International and regional restaurants and coffee shops operating in Dubai attract all segments of the community including locals, residents and visitors.”