Dubai’s Evolving Restaurant Landscape
Next, Duncan Fraser-Smith (Vice President – Food & Beverage with The First Group) chaired a panel discussion with Christian Abell (Vice President – Food & Beverage MEA with Marriott International), Tom Arnel (Co-Founder & Managing Director of Bull & Roo Hospitality & Investments) and Samantha Wood (Publisher, Editor & Consultant of FooDiva). The group spoke at length about how F&B operators, from independents to hotel outlets, should work together, learn from each other and position Dubai as a leading dining destination on the global restaurant scene. Topics such as the need for restaurateurs to think independently and demonstrate more savviness in terms of location and pricing, along with the importance of sourcing quality local produce, were to the fore of the conversation.
After Darren Tse (Commercial Director – Concessions at Expo 2020 Dubai) updated GRIF attendees on the exciting progress being made at the Expo 2020 site, Richard Thompson (Editorial Director at MEED) returned to curate a discussion on vertical farming, with Kieran Dowd (Vice President of Sourcing Solutions at Emirates Flight Catering & General Manager at Emirates Crop One) and Ming Zhu (Regional Development Manager at Crop One). GRIF attendees were given a fascinating insight into Emirates Airlines’ $40 million (AED 147m) joint-venture with Crop One to build the world’s largest vertical farm, right here in Dubai.
(DIS)CONNECT & Gen Z
Dan Clayton (Director of PPS Addison Hospitality) was next up with a presentation on how businesses can reconnect with a disrupted audience in a third-party world.
Helen El Mettouri (Regional Director of Keane) later welcomed students from the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management on stage to explain what they expect from their future employers and to speak about what Generation Z consumers look for from F&B operators.
Expansion Opportunities in KSA
Stefan Breg (Group Strategy Director of Keane) lead a conversation with Mert Askin (President of Food & Beverage at Azadea Group), Ryan Hattingh (Partner at Atelier EPJ) and Prince Waleed Al-Saud (Founder & President of Qoot). The speakers took a close look at the Saudi Arabia’s rapid market growth, detailing their own experiences of operating there. The discussion provided intriguing insights into Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism and restaurant industries, ‘Vision 2030’, and the ongoing Saudization scheme. These important topics and more will be explored in full next year at the GRIF Society KSA Briefing, on January 21st in Riyadh.
Beyond the Restaurant
GRIF’s panel discussions were rounded off with a group conversation featuring Courtney Brandt (Founder of A to Za'atar), Ian Ohan (Founder & CEO of KRUSH Brands), Reif Othman (Chef & Founder of REIF Kushiyaki), and Ron Simpson (Founder of The Avocado Show), which focused on corporate transparency and consumer expectations for companies to act in the interests of the greater good. The panel gave their expert opinions on the significance of staying true and authentic as business owners, while also talking about how sustainability can be a sustainable business model, and the importance of not getting caught up in headline-based hysteria, by engaging with factual reports, data and statistics instead.
Big Announcement from KRUSH Brands
Ian Ohan, Founder & CEO of KRUSH Brands, chose GRIF as the ideal platform to unveil the big news that KRUSH Brands has acquired the UAE food concept, the Salad Jar. The United Arab Emirates company already owns, operates and franchises healthier and convenient food brands such as Freedom Pizza, Wildflower Poke & More, Coco Yogo Vegan Kitchen and Big Dwarf Food Technology. The acquisition is part of KRUSH Brands’ multi-brand, single-platform strategy – healthier brands you love, Powered by Freedom, KRUSH Brands’ proprietary technology, operating, franchising and delivery platform.
Lunch and Networking Reception at Folly by Nick & Scott
No GRIF event would be complete without an amazing dining experience to top it off. Thankfully, Gates Hospitality was on hand to host the GRIF Society participants for a fantastic lunch and networking reception at Folly by Nick & Scott in Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
After toasting another successful GRIF event in 2019 ahead of GRIF 2020 in Amsterdam, Naim Maadad, Chief Executive of Gates Hospitality, commented, “We’re closing yet another successful GRIF briefing and it’s a privilege to be able to host everyone at Folly by Nick & Scott. We’ve been involved with GRIF since its inception and it’s inspiring to see it grow and develop year-on-year, so we’re very much looking forward to the 2020 edition.”
Check out GRIF.com for exciting news and announcements, along with enlightening articles over the coming months!
GRIF Society Sponsors
Sponsor includes: Gates Hospitality and Folly by Nick & Scott as GRIF Dubai Briefing Hosts; NH Hotel Group as GRIF 2020 Host Sponsor; Keane as Silver Sponsor; Parla as GRIF 2020 Exhibitor; Foodics, TripAdvisor and Winnow as Innovator Sponsors. Insignia is the Knowledge Partner, while MasterChef, the TV Experience is a Supporting Partner.
For Media Enquiries please contact:
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Established in 2014, GRIF offers high-level programmes and networking opportunities that bring together the global restaurant community’s most ambitious and creative minds. Built around the pillars of investment, innovation and inspiration, GRIF is a community that connects industry leaders and provides a constantly adapting platform to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest F&B trends, while challenging its members’ mindsets to encourage fresh thinking about the most important culinary issues of the day. Carefully curated events help to stimulate investments into new concepts and fund expansions into some of the world’s most exciting F&B destinations.
© Press Release 2019