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Editor-in-chief Nouhad Dammous Managing director Joumana Dammous-SalamĂŠ Editor Annie Keropian-Dilsizian

After more than 60 years, allow me to celebrate my career, having trained, consulted and helped in the success of many of these events

Publication manager Randa Dammous-Pharaon Publication coordinator Rita Ghantous Graphic designers Elias Tufunkji Ibrahim Kastoun Features consultant Rana Freifer Features writer Jad Haidar Sub-editor / writer Miriam Dunn Community manager Lisa Jerejian Sales executives Michel Ajjoub, Maha Hasbani, Josette Hikri, Elise Salem Subscription coordinators Houayda Haddad-Roumman Mirna Maroun Circulation coordinator Rita Nohra News Production & printing Arab Printing Press Photographer Pavlos Nikolaou Photography Published by Hospitality Services sarl Lebanon Borghol Building, Dekwaneh P.O.Box 90 155 Jdeidet el Metn 1202 2020 Tel: +961 1 480081 Fax: +961 1 482876 Dubai Tel: +971 56 6661718 All the information disclosed in the magazine was provided by the parties concerned by each publication and checked to the highest possible extent by the editors. However, the magazine cannot ensure accuracy at all times of all information published and therefore could in no case be held responsible should any information reveal to be false or insufficient. We welcome views on any subject relevant to the hospitality industry, but request that letters be short and to the point. The editor reserves the right to select and edit letters. Hospitality News ME is distributed to trade professionals in the catering and lodging industry in the Middle East.

Let us celebrate together The hospitality family has a wonderful reason to celebrate. Saint Joseph University (USJ), in association with Institute Paul Bocuse, has inaugurated not only one, but two master degree programs relevant to the industry, namely: Hospitality Management - Luxury Lifestyle and Hospitality Management - Lebanese Gastronomy Lifestyle. On this momentous occasion, it is worth noting that back in 1956, young men and women had little interest in hospitality as a career. The year 1960, however, was to be a turning point, after which many international and regional hotel and restaurant chains and similar establishments began launching their activities and worked on improving the quality of their service and management. In the ensuing decades, careers in hospitality became increasingly popular, attracting the new generations in their droves, with hundreds of hotel schools, institutes and universities established in Lebanon and across the Arab world from 1970 onwards. Let us celebrate and be proud of all these achievements and express our hope that this ongoing strategy will be adapted to reflect future changes in the hospitality industry. Today, we look to hotel universities to continue facilitating social development by introducing new curricula covering the training skills required by an ever-changing hospitality industry. This will help to ensure that the industry retains its role as a motor of the economy. After more than 60 years, allow me to celebrate my career, having trained, consulted and helped in the success of many of these events. I am confident that all those I have worked with across the years will continue to promote hospitality at all levels including my daughters: Joumana, Randa and Zeina. Nouhad Dammous Editor-in-Chief Docteur Honoris Causa

In this issue

Oct - Nov 2017



Let Us Celebrate Together



08 Industry Overview 10 Education 12 Hotels 20 Restaurants, Nightlife & Patisseries 24 Chefs 28 Suppliers


PREVIEW Eye on HORECA Jordan 30 32 Big Business at Saudi HORECA





A Sizzling Celebration at the Beirut Restaurants Festival

WHERE TO BE SEEN Whisky Live, Gourmet Week, Beirut Cooking Festival and Salon du Chocolat 2017

BUSINESS INTERVIEW 38 Exclusive: Let’s Do, Dare And Dream

Together with Amine Moukarzel

HOTELS MENA Hotel Asset Price Index 40 42 Rethinking Loyalty 44


ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN Hotel Design Trends for Guest Rooms

TOURISM 46 Booking Trends in the Middle East 48 50

MARKET UPDATE KSA More Than Meets the Eye VAT in KSA: Its Impact on the Hospitality Sector

TECHNOLOGY 52 Is this the End of the CRS Era? 54

EYE ON Cairo: Tourism in the Land of the Pharaohs

RESTAURANTS 56 Escobar: Building a Legacy Beyond the


Name Burgers: The Wonders Served in a Bun

F&B Private Equity Makes Its Mark on Middle 60



East Foodservice F&B Makes Money @Hospitality_Mag


70 78 80

Brewing Up a Storm Espresso Wars Fueling Coffee & Tea Industry’s Growth

82 86

Tea Sommeliers in the Middle East The Coffee Shop: Top commercial grade products and equipment selected by HN



RESTAURANTS 64 Four Ways to Make Homegrown

Restaurants More Profitable



On the Market


FOOD 90 Sweet Dreams: Four regional and

international players offering their take on the chocolate industry

CHOCOMANIA 100 World of Chocolate




Out and about with Hospitality News ME

Coming issue Dec 2017 - Jan 2018

• Special report Hygiene • Market update Cyprus & Mumbai • Hotels Industry forecasts • Food Cheese & butter • Equipment Heavy kitchen equipment • Beverage Spirits








Thomas Cook to open its first own-brand hotel in the UAE in 2017

Thomas Cook, the British global travel company, announced plans to open its first own-brand hotel in the UAE later this year. The Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort will open on November 1, 2017, and is part of Thomas Cook’s plan to open 22 new own-brand hotels around the world over the next 12 months. The new property forms part of a partnership agreement the travel firm signed with the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority in 2016. As part of the deal, Thomas Cook will market the UAE emirate to its European client base. The resort will include 253 chalets, a 700-meter private beach, three pools, four bars, a coffee shop, a buffet restaurant, and a spa with sauna and Jacuzzi.

In the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a consumer-oriented campaign aimed at raising awareness of the value and contribution that sustainable tourism can make toward development. The ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect.' campaign aims to engage tourists in making the sector a catalyst for positive change. The main message of the campaign is summarized by the UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai: “Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host. You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future.” The campaign, which will run in various languages and outlets around the world, includes a manual of ‘Tips for a Responsible Traveler’, developed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The manual provides travelers with a set of recommendations to help them make responsible choices when traveling and have a positive impact on the destinations they visit. The message will reach consumers through campaign supporters, including CNN International, the Government of Andorra, the Madrid City Council, Iberia, the Spanish National Railways System (Renfe), Minube, PR MEDIACO,


Cleverdis and Air Mauritius. Worldwide, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by six percent compared to the same sixmonth period last year, well above the sustained and consistent trend of four percent or higher growth since 2010. This represents the strongest half-year in seven years. Results are underpinned by robust growth in many destinations and a continuation of the recovery in those that suffered declines in previous years. Of UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in the Middle East (+nine percent), Europe (+eight percent) and Africa (+eight percent), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+six percent) and the Americas (+three percent). Mediterranean destinations reported particularly strong growth in the first half of 2017, as reflected in the results for Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12 percent), North Africa (+16 percent) and the Middle East (+nine percent). This trend is driven by the continued strength of many destinations in the area, combined with a significant rebound in destinations that suffered decreases in previous years, such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. Furthermore, international tourist arrivals through June grew eight percent in Northern Europe, six percent in Western Europe and four percent in Central and Eastern Europe.


Rotana’s CEO wins ‘Hospitality CEO of the Year’ at CEO Middle East Awards 2017

Rotana’s president and CEO, Omer Kaddouri, was honored with the ‘Hospitality CEO of the Year’ award at the CEO Middle East Awards 2017, held in September in Dubai. A Rotana veteran, Kaddouri has been with the company for nearly two decades and has served as president and CEO since January 2014. Last year, even though the hospitality industry was hit hard by slowing global economic growth and declining oil prices, Kaddouri was able to ensure that Rotana hotels maintained their market share and achieved high occupancy levels on par with 2015. Majid Al Futtaim to launch mixed-use community in Dubai

Majid Al Futtaim announced plans to develop an all new, mixed-use community in Dubai, at Cityscape Global 2017. The landmark project will comprise housing facilities in addition to retail, leisure and entertainment facilities. Majid Al Futtaim is currently in talks with leading global and regional contractors ahead of unveiling its masterplan in the first half of 2018. Meraas’s Dubai Harbour to have a second cruise terminal

Meraas announced that Dubai Harbour will have a second cruise terminal in addition to the one already revealed in January 2017. As the first cruise destination to build two terminals simultaneously, the facility will have the capacity to accommodate 1.2 million passengers annually once completed. Meraas made the announcement at the Cityscape Global 2017 event. The second terminal will help Dubai to build on its reputation as a leading tourism destination, while capitalizing on strong growth in the cruise industry globally. Industry data suggests that over 40 million people will travel by cruise liner annually by 2030, up 40 percent from 24 million in 2017. The Ascott Limited debuts in Turkey

The Ascott Limited, one of the world’s leading serviced residence owner-operators, continues its global expansion with the opening of its first serviced apartment in Turkey, the Somerset Maslak Istanbul. The new, 165-unit serviced residence is an integral part of the new Maslak 1453, the largest lifestyle development complex in Europe spanning more than two million square meters.


01/03 79 13 32 | Short No: 1332 | Call Center: 1272





TWO NEW MASTER’S PROGRAMS AT THE LEBANESE USJ The Institute of Business Administration (IGE) at Saint Joseph University (USJ) launched two new master’s programs in hospitality management, titled ‘Luxury and Lifestyle’ and ‘Lebanese and Mediterranean Gastronomy and Lifestyle’ for the 2017-18 academic year. The move marks a major development that cements USJ’s ambitions to highlight the important role played by Lebanon’s hospitality sector. No other institution has offered these qualifications before. Both degrees will be taught in English instead of French, allowing graduates to take their acquired abilities onto the international stage more easily. Each of the twoyear courses will accommodate 10-30 students, who are required to successfully complete 120 European Credit Transfers System (ECTS). To ensure that all requirements are met, 10 new teachers and professionals have been recruited. The additional members of staff will also contribute to a new BA degree in culinary arts, scheduled for launch in 2018, which will comprise 50 percent practical training. These bold initiatives are not only promising for the industry, but will also undoubtedly set a new trend that is well overdue. As part of its international exposure strategy, the USJ-IGE joined the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance in 2016. The alliance is a network composed of 17 institutions around the globe, sharing similar education values.

Lebanon's tourism minister, Avedis Guidanian, at the USJ launching event


Admission conditions

Date of Launch

Duration of Studies

Language of Study

Licence en Hospitality Management



3 years


Bachelor in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management



3 years


Master of Hospitality Management, Luxury & Lifestyle



2 years


Master of Hospitality Management, Lebanese and Mediterranean Gastronomy & Lifestyle



2 years


The art of great cooking The german specialist in professional cooking technology

MKN Middle East & Africa Phone: +97 150 5 58 74 77 E-Mail:





MARRIOTT PARTNERS WITH ALIBABA AND LAUNCHES TESTBED IN MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA Marriott International has announced plans to partner with China’s Alibaba Group Holding to tap into the growing number of Chinese citizens who travel abroad. The world’s biggest hotel chain said the joint venture with Alibaba would allow Chinese travelers to book rooms at Marriott hotels via Alibaba’s travel service platform, Fliggy, Reuters reported. Travelers will be able to sign up for Marriott’s rewards program and receive special member-only rates through Fliggy, Marriott's global chief commercial officer, Stephanie Linnartz, said in an interview. Alibaba will eventually run Marriott’s Chinese-language websites and apps, Linnartz said. Tourists will be able to pay for bookings using the Chinese e-commerce company’s online payments platform, Alipay. The long-term market opportunity in China is huge for companies targeting both domestic and outbound Chinese travelers, according to Rich Hightower, an equity analyst with Evercore ISI. China’s importance to Marriott was heightened by the company’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels, which had a larger presence in the country than Marriott, Linnartz said. In other news, Marriott Hotels has also

launched its TestBED program in the Middle East and Africa. First launched by Marriott Hotels across Europe in 2016, the unique 10-week accelerator program gives startups the opportunity to test their products within an operating Marriott hotel in a major city. The program is open to seed and early stage startups with products or services that are ready to pilot in a live hotel environment. It offers them an invaluable opportunity to gain worthwhile feedback from guests and associates to help further develop and perfect their product. Participating startups are hand-picked, in an effort to uncover those that can revolutionize a guest’s stay, reinventing the hotel experience throughout the region. Those selected will also be offered mentoring and global exposure. While the startups are not required to relocate for the duration of the program, they may need to travel, since they will be spending most of the time in action within a Marriott Hotel. Interested parties can learn more or submit an application via https://www. This will be the first year that the initiative is available in the region, and the program will begin its roll-out in the UAE.


IN BRIEF Over 100 AccorHotels in the Middle East

AccorHotels surpassed 100 hotels in operation across its Middle East portfolio, with the opening of 12 landmark properties in its economy, midscale, upscale and luxury segments in 2017. The number of hotel openings this year exceeds that of hotels opened by the group for the whole of 2016, and has already established 2017 as a year of record growth. The group announced plans last year to double its room count to 50,000 by 2020, and has already reached the 30,000 room mark to date. USD 10 billion worth hotels coming to Bahrain

Fifteen new hotels and resorts will be built in the island kingdom of Bahrain during the next three years. The construction of the new buildings will be the result of a collective investment of more than USD 10 billion. The decision will make Bahrain one of the most attractive holiday destinations in the world. Brands, such as One&Only, Wyndham, Fairmont, Vida, The Address, Ibis and Pullman all plan to open new businesses in the kingdom by 2022. Bahrain is currently home to 190 hotels, with a total of 16,500 rooms. Once the new additions are in operation, the kingdom’s total hotel offering will rise to over 200 hotels and resorts, comprising five-star, luxuriant four-star and threestar facilities, while boosting the number of rooms by 4000. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts launches ‘Kilo of Kindness’ charity drive

The global campaign, which marks the UN International Day of Charity, asked for donations of food, clothing and educational supplies to help support the communities that are home to Mövenpick properties. Guests and visitors were invited to drop off at least one kilo of supplies at any participating hotel, with 46 Mövenpick properties around the globe involved in the campaign.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World announced that Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai on Pearl Jumeira has become the first hotel in Dubai to join its portfolio of small, independently minded hotels around the world. The hotel is now available to book through all SLH channels, including Daniel Luddington, vice president of development at SLH commented, “Dubai is one of the most requested destinations on and



we’ve been searching for the right hotel here for a number of years. Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai is a notable addition to the SLH family, not only because we can now offer our guests the opportunity to enjoy SLH luxury in such a prestigious location, but also because it is a unique hotel in Dubai – a welcoming sanctuary that embraces its high energy environment.”

Campbell Gray Hotels to oversee the Farmington Hotel, Liberia

The hotel, which comprises 164 rooms and suites, will be the first of its kind in this developing country and will appeal to business travelers and airline personnel for whom proximity to the airport is important.


IHG LAUNCHES AVID, A NEW MIDSCALE BRAND early 2018 and the first hotel is anticipated to open in early 2019. Keith Barr, Chief Executive Officer, IHG, said, “With 14 million potential customers looking for the type of hospitality avid hotels will offer, this new hotel brand represents a significant growth opportunity for IHG and our family of owners.”

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) has revealed its new high-quality midscale brand, avid™ hotels, alongside a brand logo and renderings of the hotel exterior, public space and guest rooms. First introduced to owners at the IHG Americas Conference in June, avid hotels is now franchise ready for the U.S. market. More than 150 owners have already expressed interest in the brand. IHG expects the first avid hotels to begin construction in

Elie Maalouf, chief executive officer, IHG, The Americas, added, “Our extensive consumer research and conversations with owners identified a clear opportunity to reach an important set of business and leisure travelers in a vastly underserved USD 20 billion segment of the U.S. midscale market. We applied our insights, expertise and scale to deliver an experience that features modern and stylish designs, superior guest rooms and public spaces and great service – all at an excellent value.”

LE BRISTOL HOTEL IN BEIRUT NOW MEMBER OF PREFERRED HOTELS & RESORTS After a recent USD 30 million facelift, Le Bristol Hotel has taken another bold step toward becoming a global entity by partnering with Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Commenting on the partnership, Claudio Roscigno, regional MENA director of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, explained, “We are the world’s biggest network of independently-owned hotels, with 651 entities spread throughout 86 countries, and Le Bristol Hotel is the first in Lebanon to become a member. We specifically chose this hotel because it has the biggest historical heritage in the country, so the choice of venue for us was clear from the get-go.” The added value this partnership brings is unique, according to Franck Royer, general manager of Le Bristol. “On the one hand, the hotel will gain global recognition and higher visibility, which previously it did not have within a network of quality establishments.

Claudio Roscigno of Preferred Hotels & Resorts with Franck Royer of Le Bristol

On the other hand, our clients will now have the possibility of joining our iPrefer hotel rewards program, which has over two million registered members who benefit from points redeemable for cash-value certificates, elite status, special rates, amenities and benefits,” he explained.


Mohammed Mehyar, Les Clefs D’or

InterContinental Jordan added a new award to its already expanding collection from different entities and institutions that have recognized the hotel for its outstanding services and exceptional standards. Mohammed Mehyar, who works as a concierge supervisor at InterContinental Jordan, has become part of the Clefs d’Or in a move that acknowledges his efforts and hard work. Mehyar has been a member of the InterContinental Jordan family since 2007. Les Clefs d’Or is a global organization, found in 35 countries. OCT-NOV 2017 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME








SWISS BELHOTEL INTERNATIONAL'S FIRST FIVE-STAR PROPERTY IN JORDAN The Grand Swiss-Belresort Tala Bay Aqaba is the group’s first five-star property in Jordan following the completion of the hotel’s rebranding. Number of rooms: 336 Features and amenities: Three specialty restaurants and a beach bar, five swimming pools, kids club, and water sports and recreation activities.

FIRST INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY BRAND OPENS IN THE HOLY CITY AccorHotels, has recently announced its latest economy offering in the Middle East - ibis Styles Makkah. The project is developed with strategic partner, Alesayi Group. Number of rooms: 286 Features and amenities: F&B options include two specialty restaurants – Zurna and Al Suroor – alongside a lobby lounge.

MILLENNIUM HOTELS AND RESORTS DEBUTS IN PALESTINE Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa, has signed a franchise agreement with Yabous Group, for fivestar Millennium Ramallah Palestine Hotel. Number of rooms: 171 Features and amenities: Seven meeting rooms, a ballroom, three dining outlets, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool and a business center.

RIXOS PREMIUM DUBAI DEBUTS IN JBR Rixos Hotels will add another two properties by 2018 in Abu Dhabi and the Maldives. Number of rooms: 414 Features and amenities: A private beach as well as a total of nine restaurants and bars.

LARGEST TRYP BY WYNDHAM IN DUBAI TRYP by Wyndham Dubai is located at Al Thanayah – 1, Barsha Heights, Dubai. Number of rooms: 650 rooms Features and amenities: One of the region’s first full-service coworking spaces.


NEW DOUBLETREE OPENS IN DUBAI DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai - Business Bay is owned by Dubai Properties. Number of rooms: 238 Features and amenities: Various F&B outlets, in addition to a gym and outdoor pool.




Delivering a sophisticated sweet-salt, smoky taste, Salted Caramel is hard to resist ! MONIN captures this heady flavour combination into a sauce for drizzling over puddings and dessert drinks to tempt your customers. MONIN Salted Caramel sauce will make your signature drinks irresistible ! MONIN captures and enlivens the flavours to inspire every creative professional.

Š MONIN - September 2017 - Serving suggestion

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IN BRIEF Hyatt to debut Hyatt Centric in Turkey

DUSIT EXPANDS IN BAHRAIN Thailand-based, hospitality company Dusit International, signed a hotel management agreement with Al Manzil Hospitality Group to debut the Dusit brand in Bahrain through dusitD2 Seef Bahrain. The hotel is scheduled to open in Manama, next year comprises 195 units. Opening 2018

EMAAR HOSPITALITY GROUP DEBUTS VIDA IN EGYPT The new hotel project in Marassi, the master-planned lifestyle and tourism destination by Emaar Misr, is next to Sidi Abdel Rahman Bay. Vida Marassi Marina will have 120 hotel rooms and suites and access to a range of lifestyle amenities.


FAM HOLDING ACQUIRES AN 11,700 M2 PLOT AT AL MARJAN ISLAND FAM Holding has acquired an 11,700 square-meter plot on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah to develop Al Mahra Resort. The hotel will bring 548 rooms, food and beverage outlets including meeting rooms, swimming pool, wellness club, spa and gym. The resort will also contain over 510 m2 of retail and provides access to the private beach equipped with cabanas and water sports, perfect to unwind and relax. Opening 2021

MOHAMED RUQAIT (MR) PROPERTIES TO DEVELOP ITS SECOND HOTEL MR Properties, one of the leading developers of residential and commercial properties in Ras Al Khaimah, has announced a new four-star beachfront property. Valued at USD 109 million, the property is spread over an area of 10,886 square meters. Aimed mainly at business and leisure travelers, the 500-key beachfront development will feature retail, recreation facilities and beach activities. Opening 2019

TWO NEW IHG HOTELS COMING TO DUBAI BUSINESS BAY InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed two new properties in Dubai: Crowne Plaza Dubai Business Bay and InterContinental Residences Dubai Business Bay. Both properties are in partnership with API Hotels & Resorts. Crowne Plaza Dubai Business Bay will have 290 rooms and suites. InterContinental Residences Dubai Business Bay will offer 30 studios, 60 one-bedroom, 60 two-bedroom, and 10 three-bedroom suites. Opening 2019



Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a franchise agreement with Özkent Girisim Gayrimenkul Yatırım ve Ticaret A.S. for a Hyatt Centric hotel in Bodrum, Turkey. Hyatt Centric Yalikavak Bodrum will be managed by Access Tourism and Hotel Investment Consultancy Ltd. Expected to open in mid-2019, the hotel will have 77 rooms and five food and beverage venues, a spa, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Opening 2019 Jumeirah to manage new hotel in Makkah

Dubai Holding has signed an agreement to develop Jabal Omar Jumeirah Makkah Hotel. Managed by Jumeirah Group, the five-star hotel is walking distance from the Holy Mosque and comprises four towers with views of Masjid-al-Haram. The Jabal Omar Jumeirah Makkah Hotel will include 1,033 guest rooms, along with 93 villas, and will feature a variety of food and beverage offerings, meeting facilities, executive lounge, a gym and over 90 retail units throughout the complex. Opening 2019 New agreement for Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah

Swiss-Belhotel International has announced its debut in Makkah with the signing of Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The fourstar property, owned by Cardamom International Property Management LLC, features 525 rooms. Opening Q2 2018 Over 100 Rezidor hotels planned for the EMEA region

The Rezidor Hotel Group continued its dynamic growth in the second quarter of 2017 with eight new hotel openings and four signings, representing 1,397 rooms and 1,666 rooms, respectively. The group added the world's largest Radisson Blu Hotel and Park Inn by Radisson in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.





Marriott International has announced the expansion and strengthening of its sales and marketing leadership team for the Middle East and Africa. Led by seasoned Marriott International veteran, Neal Jones, chief sales and marketing officer, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, the leadership team for Middle East and Africa has been formed from a highly experienced team

including: Paul Dalgleish, VP of sales and distribution; Sarah Allen, VP of revenue strategy and analysis; Jitendra Jain, VP of digital, loyalty and portfolio marketing; Sandra SchulzePotgieter, VP of premium and select brands; Sarah Walker Kerr, VP of communications Middle East and Africa; Raheel Baggia, senior director, brand, marketing, sales and consumer (BMSC) planning and services.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced Gloria Guevara Manzo as its new president and CEO and successor to David Scowsill. Guevara served as secretary of tourism for Mexico, CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board from 2010 to 2012, and was a minister in the cabinet of president Calderón. Previously, she worked for global distribution system Sabre. Pascal Gauvin has announced the promotion of Oussama Massoud to the position of IHG director of operations, Levant. Massoud follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Michael Koth. His career in the hospitality industry spans more than 30 years, all of which have been with the InterContinental Hotels Group and included spells in several GCC countries, Jordan and Palestine.

Puneet Baijal is the new general manager of Roda Al Bustan Dubai Airport Hotel. In his new role with RODA Hotels & Resorts, Baijal will be overseeing day-to-day operations and the strategic direction of the 279-room property. Sofitel Dubai Downtown has appointed Fabrice Ducry as its new general manager. Having worked in the industry for 20 years and over seven spent with the Sofitel brand, Ducry brings with him a wealth of experience to his new position.

Centro Capital Centre & Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana has welcomed Chadi Nicolas as their new general manager. Nicolas joins from Hala Arjaan by Rotana, where, as the hotel’s general manager, he played a pivotal role in driving the business and leading operations.

Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers has introduced Daniel Kaan as its new general manager. A versatile executive who brings over 16 years of experience to his position, Kaan takes up his new role from Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, where he held the position of general manager from 2014.

Swiss-Belhotel International has promoted Herve Peyre to area general manager for Bahrain. Peyre was previously the general manager of SwissBelhotel Seef Bahrain, having been associated with the group since September 2013.

Savino Leone joins the Jumeirah Group as the general manager of Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, having held the position of GM of InterContinental Osaka, in Japan. Prior to this, he worked as the GM of Crowne Plaza Doha – The Business Park, Qatar.

Alan Stocker is the new general manager of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. The appointment marks Stocker’s third Waldorf Astoria property since joining Hilton in 2011, before which he managed an island resort in the Maldives and a city hotel in Beijing.






Buddha-Bar Beach is set to open later this year at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, bringing Pan-Asian cuisine, cocktails and music to the capital. The day-to-night destination will be the fourth

of its kind in the world and the first one representing a permanent destination. ‘Seasonal’ venues appeared this summer in Baku and on swanky Greek islands Santorini and Mykonos.


ALSHAYA EXPANDS F&B PORTFOLIO International retail franchisor M.H. Alshaya Co. is expanding its F&B offering, after signing an exclusive development agreement with Blaze FastFire'd Pizza, one of the United States' leading fast-casual artisanal pizza chains, to build and operate multiple Blaze Pizza restaurants across the Middle East and Northern Africa. The agreement provides for the development of 100 restaurants in 11 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco. The first five restaurants are scheduled to open in Kuwait and the UAE in 2018. The partnership with Alshaya marks the first expansion of Blaze Pizza outside of North America and represents the largest development deal in the brand's history. The buildyour-own pizza chain, known for its chef-driven recipes and casually hip restaurants, recently opened its milestone 200th restaurant and has agreements in place to roll out more than 400 additional venues across

the US, Canada, the Middle East and Northern Africa. Alshaya has also announced a franchise partnership with award-winning Australian chef Johnny Di Francesco to bring the 400 Gradi Italian restaurant brand to the Middle East this year, its first expansion outside Australia. 400 Gradi, a Naplesinspired Italian restaurant, is the creation of chef Di Francesco, the first Australian to have ever trained in Naples with the Associazione Verace (AVPN) and president of AVPN Australia. It offers a wide variety of deliciously handcrafted Italian cuisine, using the finest Italian ingredients to give guests the most complete Neapolitan experience outside of Naples. In 2014, chef Di Francesco was named the World’s Best Pizza Maker during the World Championships in Italy for his authentic Napoletana-style pizza, which is cooked for only 90 seconds at a temperature of 400 degrees, hence the brand’s name, 400 Gradi.

ice cream. In the chocolates segment, Noura’s advantage is its exclusive use of Lindt chocolates in everything we do,

as well as its artisanal handmade chocolates that are carefully crafted, piece by piece.”

LEBANESE NOURA TAKES A LEAP INTO THE FUTURE In a recent development aimed at growing an already highly-established dessert and catering company, Lebanese brand Noura, founded in 1948 by Edwin Chaaraoui, was acquired by a group of Lebanese investors. Julien Khabbaz, a former investment banker, became majority shareholder and CEO with minority investors, including the Chaoui group. This multi-milliondollar acquisition is aimed at preserving a long-standing heritage of superior taste and excellent service, for which the Lebanese hospitality industry is


renowned. When HN contacted Khabbaz to learn more about the merger, he commented: “Noura is one of the top brands in its industry and, at 70 years, is also one of the oldest. It is part of the Lebanese heritage. We are continuing to grow with the same values of excellent quality, consistency and traditional recipes.” When asked to comment on the advantages the company has over its rivals, he added, “Noura has a diversified business model in different segments: catering, pastry, chocolates, bakery, confectionery and






IN BRIEF CÔTÉ JARDIN Opened August 13, 2017 Owner Coral Beach Resort Sharjah Head chef Hussam Ibrahim Covers 110 (indoors) and 44 (outdoors) Average price/person USD 30 (AED 109) Address Sharjah, UAE coralbeachresortsharjah


“B” BY ELEFTERIADES B is a refined restaurant with a live music band featuring international musicians and serving Mediterranean cuisine prepared by star chef Jacob Vila. The place suffers from a Cinderella syndrome; it turns into a club somewhere around midnight when the chef and the musicians pack their things and fly out of the place leaving it to electro beats, wild dancers and vodka drinkers. Opened August 15, 2017 Owner(s) Michel Elefteriades, Jean

Elefteriades Executive chef Jacob Vila (Spain) Covers 400 guests total capacity, 120 seated Average price/person USD 65 Typical dishes Wasabi Ice Cream Tuna Tartar, Smoked Octopus, Chocolate Marquise Address Jal el Dib Sea Road, Aishti by the Sea, Antelias, Lebanon

MATTO ITALIAN RESTAURANT Opened January 23, 2017 Owner ADDMIND Group Executive chef Christian Carrieri Covers 138 Average price/person USD 60 Typical dishes Paccheri alla Burrata, Cotoletta alla Milanese, Tiramisu Address The Oberoi, lobby level, Dubai, UAE



Opened August 4, 2017 Owner(s) Mark Nicolas, Elie Kallab Total investment USD 1.3 million Executive chef Miled Basil Covers 178 Average price/person USD 30 Typical dishes Lebanese food Address Joseph Hawat Street, Byblos, Lebanon facebook: enabbeirutbyblos

LA PETITE MAISON ABU DHABI Opening Fall 2017 Owner Waney Family Head chef Rory Duncan Covers 140 Average price/person USD 136 to USD 272 Typical dishes Light bites, appetizers, salads, to dishes such as whole fish, cotede-boeuf and homemade pasta. Address Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

MEATS & BREAD Opened July 7, 2017 Owner(s) Riad Abou Lteif, Walid Merhi Total investment USD 180,000 Executive chef Riad Abou Lteif Covers 30 Average price/person USD 15 Typical dishes Holy Grail Brisket, Pulled Skinny Pig, Ferdinand® Burger Address Gemmayze Main Street, Rue Gouraud, Sursock Building, Ground Floor, Beirut, Lebanon


Opened August 21, 2017 Owner(s) Mireille Hayek, Selim Hayek, Dany Chaccour Total investment USD 2.2 million Covers 138 (56 indoors and 82 outdoors) Average price/person USD 60 Typical dishes European cuisine with an Asian twist Address Minet El Hosn, Beirut, Lebanon



Opened June 15, 2017 Owner S.P. Holding SAL Covers 250 Average price/person USD 55 Typical dishes Lebanese traditional mezze, charcoal grills, fresh fish and seafood Address Palladium Building, Beirut, Lebanon

Opened July 26, 2017 Owner Eddy Massaad Total investment USD 1 million Corporate chef Bernard Massaad Covers 70 Average price/person USD 17 Typical dishes Beef, chicken breast or salmon fillet, smothered in signature Swiss Butter sauce with a side green salad, freshly baked baguette, chili flakes and a choice of baked potato or fries. Address Gemmayze, Gouraud Street, Beirut, Lebanon




IN BRIEF Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller partners with Alshaya

According to chef Hilal, “When people ask what my profession is, I never say chef, rather, I answer ‘cook’. All I care about is the love and respect people who try my food express. I don’t want to make something special, I want to make something different.” This approach, he explains, dates back to an era before refrigerators or even electricity, when ingenuity was a necessity What did you learn during your tenure at Le Notre? I was very lucky to have worked with the renowned pastry chef, Gaston Lenôtre, the founder of that Parisian school. The approach there was based purely on a hands-on experience, rather than theory. I stayed at the school for four years, unlike most students who usually only sit for one or two three-week courses. Due to this unusually lengthy stay, I was allowed an all-access pass, which was of phenomenal value to my education. What I learned was to respect the person I’m working with. This was especially important back then, since the entire student body and staff enjoyed a close bond. The point is, it’s easy to follow instructions to achieve the best possible result; but the real challenge is creating a system that allows all involved to maintain this level of quality. This is crucial when operating with a multi-national workforce under pressure. The challenge would be to facilitate the flow of the operation and in so doing, minimize the running cost as much as possible. I also learned how to develop the



most efficient system and how to customize, or in some cases, build the tools required that are not always readily available. This led to me dabbling in kitchen and cooking tool design. Can you brief us on your food consulting company and the difference your approach makes? I consider myself a developer, not a consultant. It’s of paramount importance to me that when I take on a new assignment, the client understands that this is not a business deal, rather a longterm partnership. If we can’t agree on a specific point, I won’t consider the project, irrespective of the financial returns. What were some of the key changes you introduced to the restaurants you ran and what of future plans? I always say that there needs to be specific emphasis on Lebanese cuisine. My main concern is to work on something I love and am interested in. I want people to become part of an exceptional eatingout experience, rather than only eat good food. At La Crêperie, for instance, both the location and setup were wonderful, and we further complemented that by offering exceptional table and metal ware of my own personal design, which was not available elsewhere. We are also currently working on transforming the space into three restaurants. The original space is reserved for international cuisine. At the entrance, we created what we called Jnaynet La Crêperie, which is completely independent, and, in winter, we will reintroduce Les Caves de La Crêperie that will become an Arabesque lounge, possibly offering a variety of performances. We are handling everything related to F&B for Sky Management and La Creperie, while hopefully, we’ll launch SAX in Dubai next year, alongside two additional projects with Sky management that are in the pipeline.

International retail franchise operator M.H. Alshaya Co. announced its franchise partnership with acclaimed chef, Thomas Keller, to launch the first three Bouchon Bakeries outside of the US in Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar. Keller, the award-winning American chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, opened the first Bouchon Bakery in July 2003. It offers classic French boulangeries and a selection of artisanal breads and classic desserts. Keller is the first and only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three-star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants. He currently holds seven Michelin stars: three at Per Se, three at The French Laundry and one at Bouchon Bistro. Nicolas Audi launches at Le Yacht Club-Beirut

Renowned Nicolas Audi officially launched its food and beverage concept for Le Yacht Club-Beirut, a members-only venue situated at the heart of the capital Beirut. Known for his dedication to culinary excellence and immaculate service, Audi spent almost one year engineering a tailor-made menu that would fit Le Yacht ClubBeirut clientele. A second concept will soon see the light, this time at Zaitunay Bay level. The two concepts are the only Nicolas Audi addresses in Beirut. China Grill Dubai appoints David Kikillus, as chef de cuisine

Starting his career in 1998 as executive sous chef at Weisses Roessl in Austria, Kikillus has climbed the rankings taking on roles at prestigious restaurants across the world to include, Schote, Sol Y Vida and DK Avant-Garde. Considered one of the most innovative young chefs internationally, his tenure in Germany secured his place in the qualifier of the "Chef of the Year" and throughout his time in Austria he earned a FiveStar Diamond Award while working at Weisses Rössl as executive sous chef.



Chefs Maroun Chedid and Daniel Boulud

Joining some of the most brilliant minds cooking across the US and overseas, chef Maroun Chedid traveled to New York in June to represent Lebanon at the 32nd Annual Chefs Tribute to Citymeals on Wheels. Chedid was there at the invitation of Daniel Boulud, co-president, board of directors, of Citymeals on Wheels in the US. Other star chefs at the event, which was held at the Rockefeller Center, included: Meryem Cherkaoui from Morocco; Albert Adrià and Elena Arzak Espina from Spain; Lefteris Lazarou from Greece; Rudolf Štefan from

Croatia; Cristina Bowerman from Rome; and David Darmanin, a Maltese chef living in England. The chefs were invited to conceive and present Mediterranean dishes for more than 1000 guests. With the help of Semsom Eatery in New York, Chedid’s creation was a delicious hummus with pita bread, diced tenderloin, pomegranate molasses and pine nuts. Guests enjoyed the chefs’ innovative and soulful creations against a backdrop that celebrated the culture and energy synonymous with the region.

FRANCK PAGE RETURNS TO PHOENICIA HOTEL The InterContinental Phoenicia Hotel Beirut has appointed Franck Page as its new executive chef. He joins with more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and fine dining across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The role marks a return to Phoenicia Hotel for Page, who initially took up a position there just a few years after beginning his career in France at Traiteur Pauvert. Since then, he has broadened his international experience, working with Fauchon Paris in China and Fairmont in Switzerland, before returning to Beirut to Le Bristol, where, as executive chef, he

was engaged in the development of many apprentice chefs. During his career, Page has built up a proven track record of success, having twice been a finalist at the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (1996 and 2000).

BARBARA ABDENI MASSAAD AT POLLENZO Writer, photographer, chef and Slow Food international activist Barbara Abdeni Massaad was the special guest chef at the Academic Tables at Pollenzo. Launched in 2013 by Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, the Academic Tables aims to construct a different model for collective catering. The Academic Tables is the cafeteria of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, but also serves as a space where different expressions of cuisine and gastronomy are welcomed, allowing exchanges that enrich and create exciting stimuli. Massaad prepared two menus for

FANTASTIC OUR EXCLUSIVE AGENT IN LEBANON INTHRA HOTELS & RESTAURANT SUPPLIES Badaro main str | Al Khatib bldg 1st fl P.O.Box 16 6065 | Beirut Lebanon tel +961 1 395 595 PBX |

the week of May 22-25, which included an orange lentil, carrot and cumin soup to start, 'fatteh', made with crunchy Arabic bread, yogurt and eggplant, and classic baklava with walnuts, pistachios and almonds.

MADE IN GERMANY We produce in Germany






THREE OF LEBANON’S CULINARY MASTERS JOIN HANDS most uncontested pioneers of fusion cuisine. Azar, another heavyweight contender lent his sweet-making knowhow to bring this formidable event to a beautiful close.

Chefs Charles Azar, Alan Geaam & Joe Barza

Chefs Alan Geaam, Joe Barza and Charles Azar hosted an unforgettable event at Le Petit Gris in Beirut, a Parisianstyle eatery founded in 2011 by Makram Rabbath, a food enthusiast. This event

saw Geaam, originally a self-taught talent who currently heads four of Paris’ most reputed restaurants, working alongside Joe Barza, a chef at the top of his game and arguably one of Lebanon’s

Restaurant Alan Geaam is one of the most renowned culinary destinations in Paris, and it’s the namesake chef who’s behind the full-star rating of the diner on TripAdvisor. Born to Lebanese parents living in Liberia, Geaam did not develop his talent in the classes or kitchens of a gastronomy star. Rather, passionate about cooking, and motivated by the desire to share, this self-taught artist took 20 years to learn, understand and, eventually, find his culinary identity. Alan Geaam now has three restaurants in Paris, two of which offer a bistronomic experience: AG les Halles and Nicolas Flamel. The third, 'Alan Geaam', has become the rendezvous for high gastronomy. A citizen of the world, Geaam is a French success story who, from the slices of his life spent in Liberia, Lebanon, the United States, Italy and the Czech Republic, has brought back colors, smells, products and know-how.

HILTON REVAMPS JAZZ BAR IN BEIRUT WITH CHEF JIHAD DFOUNI AT THE HELM Habtoor Grand Hotel, Dfouni chose an international menu that pairs well with drinks and the overall ambiance of the hotel bar. “The menu is engineered to suit every palate. Our in-house guests are mainly Europeans, expats and business travelers looking for a place to relax and to have a quick bite with a cocktail. It’s casual food, but the presentation is very elegant. We’ve engineered everything in-house; even the wood pallets for the sliders.” From fois gras lollipops to fresh crab salad and asparagus wrapped with Parma ham, the menu takes finger food to a whole new level.

The five-star hotel cluster’s executive chef, Jihad Dfouni, revealed in an interview with HN that five years after the Jazz Bar’s launch, the entire menu was revisited, with more changes on the way for the remaining F&B venues. “For the last few years, we’ve only made slight adjustments to the overall menu, but midyear, our cluster GM, Naif Zureikat, informed me that we would change the whole concept, from the food to the tableware.” Set on the 31st floor of the Hilton Beirut



“If you want an elegant seated menu you can go to Le Ciel, which, incidentally, will also change once our head chef comes back from Waldorf Astoria in Paris to train with their three-Michelin star chefs. Hilton is a hotel engine of 4,600 hotels around the globe so we have the advantage of having an established network for training.” During his career, Dfouni has notched up 26 years of experience in hotels, spanning international destinations that include the UAE. Beginning his career in 1989 as an executive chef at Bayview Hotel Beirut, chef Dfouny steadily climbed the rankings, taking on roles at prestigious properties

that included Phoenicia Hotel Beirut and Dorchester Hotel. Prior to his latest role, Dfouni was the executive sous chef of Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand, where he oversaw the entire hotel central kitchen operation, including the restaurants, monitoring all food preparation, presentation and delivery. His storied accomplishments resulted in his promotion to the position of executive chef in 2015. Dfouni also comprised part of the judging panel of HORECA Kuwait 2016. “It was my first time judging and to be honest, as a HORECA judge, I was the novice among them. The panel was made up of renowned chefs with Michelin stars from around the world. The level of the chefs competing was also very good,” he said. Considered one of the most meticulous chefs locally, he has taken his culinary career to a point where management is the logical next step. “I think 26 years in the kitchen is enough,” he said. “I started as a steward and now I’m on track for operations, but whatever I end up doing, I’ll always apply the same principles I do in the kitchen – do it right and work from your heart – it makes all the difference.”



ONE-ON-ONE WITH CARLA FAISSAL SABBAGH, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF BOUTIC’ HOTEL concept where, indeed, taste is taken for granted, while appearance is a challenge. As a matter of fact, we are witnessing an increasing range of colors on the table. Shapes are distorted, hand-made finishes irregular. The basic function is replaced by the raw and the beautiful. How the food tastes is being overwhelmed by how the food looks. This was even more of a reason to select Vista Alegre, which presents a very interesting stoneware collection so far unseen in the Middle East.

Today’s tableware has transgressed ‘function’ to serve and add another dimension; your thoughts? Far from only being a ‘serving’ tool, tableware has become an essential aspect of the overall spirit a restaurant aims to convey. It has become an essential part of the corporate identity, an image and a signature. However, the challenge remains the same, as each restaurant owner strives for uniqueness and originality, which is quite hard to achieve with the same products in a saturated market. In light of this urgent craving for novelty, Vista Alegre enters the Lebanese market as a fresh alternative, offering a new tableware line with an unmatched quality/price ratio and a palette of original alternatives to satisfy an industry that has been using the same brands for decades. Some argue that today’s eating-out experience is more focused on esthetics than actual taste; where do you stand? It is absolutely necessary to satisfy the eye before the taste. Looking appealing and beautifully arranged is in the Lebanese DNA. This would apply to the tableware



What is the psychological effect the color of the tableware has on the eatingout experience? Color is a mood conveyor. While white can bring elegance and subtlety, black gives the food more aggressiveness. The new stoneware tendency has another effect, more on the artistically raw, which is now in line with the interior designs of new openings.

What are the principal challenges when it comes to maintaining an edge? The challenge remains in novelty. Restaurant owners have one objective in mind: to impress. Of course, this includes good food, but that is taken for granted. They strive to impress with new items, new ideas and new tendencies. They want to be unique, different, to become the talk of the town; the reference. This is reflected on the table. Their tableware speaks for itself, shouts their taste and enhances the spirit of their place. With all this happening, it is crucial to always propose the new and the unseen. To support and fulfill this thirst for novelty, Vista Alegre is today a virgin brand in a market that has been limited by the same old brands for years. After only three months, it is gradually becoming the choice for every trendy restaurant opening in Beirut.



Elias Rached, MENA sales director for MKN, the renowned German kitchen equipment supplier, talks to HN about the exciting benefits the company’s FlexiChef and FlexiCombi machines have brought to the hospitality industry What can you tell us about these two culinary marvels? As a chef, with over 20 years of experience before beginning my journey with MKN nine years ago, I discovered that if you fail to come up with great

ideas that people in the industry can use, you will not grow. That is why MKN is constantly working on novel solutions. Yet, despite the fact that some chefs are quite skilled, their abilities, to a great degree, will remain limited in the absence of suitable tools. With these two machines, culinary creativity has not only expanded, but has also become much easier. One of the built-in features that is facilitating the preparation of food is the memory option, which, with the press of a button, can recall and cook a dish to the exact specifications of the person who originally served it. This also allows any kitchen staff member qualified to operate the machine to achieve the same results as more skilled individuals. In other words, these multifunctional machines allow the preparation of better-quality food items within a smaller space and in so doing, lend the chef more time to offer each guest a more customer-centric experience. Furthermore, if you have a high-volume production kitchen, these machines can do the same job as traditional ones, yet twice as fast, thereby saving time and energy, and increasing overhead. For example, I have a customer who wanted to increase his kitchen’s production capacity from 70,000 servings to 100,000. Normally,

he would have had to expand the kitchen by knocking down walls to make room for additional equipment. With these machines, that is no longer the case. Which establishments are using them and what future projects are in the pipeline? In terms of booming areas that are prime markets for these machines, I would say the GCC. And, I am excited to reveal that MKN has recently been awarded one of the biggest projects in the Middle East under construction in Dubai; a mixeduse touristic project. Other projects we’ve started working on include the Mövenpick Hotel in Qatar, in addition to the One&Only Seef resort in Bahrain, with a couple of other consignments in Mecca and Jeddah, as well as six Hilton Hotels throughout the region. We also did Babel restaurant, Bahrain, with Babel Dubai soon to follow. Perhaps most importantly, for the first time, chefs can rest assured of their ability to produce more without compromising on quality. After all, in this industry, consistency is the major key to growth and with FlexiChef and FlexiCombi in your kitchen, the key message is that no challenge is too great.,

3 QUESTIONS TO FOOD CHOICE KUWAIT Food Choice Kuwait is one of the main market players in the HORECA industry. Here’s what Jamil Ajour, food service sales manager, told HN What are the challenges that face the HORECA industry in Kuwait? The Kuwaiti market is continuously progressing. Customers no longer demand commodities but rather products that offer innovation, trend and value. Food Choice is always striving to offer new and exclusive products that satisfy the market’s needs. How did Food Choice come to stand out and become a market leader? Food Choice has become a market leader through its strategy of networking and direct selling. Our employees and division managers continuously survey the market and provide a hands-on approach with our clients. This has allowed Food Choice to achieve a more personal interaction with clients and

resulted in Food Choice standing out among competitors. What are your upcoming projects and what are the new strategic brands that you plan on adding to your portfolio? Our latest launched project is our sister company offering an online channel with free home delivery for premium foods from

Food Choice and other local suppliers. We are working on a new division for fresh and organic items, such as meat, seafood, fresh dairy products, fruits and vegetables. In addition, new brands have arrived, such as La Costena, offering a wide range of authentic Mexican sauces and salsas, as well as many more brands. OCT-NOV 2017 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME




EYE ON HORECA JORDAN As Jordan gets ready to welcome the fourth edition of its largest hospitality and foodservice exhibition, we take a look at why it’s a must-attend event for industry professionals

MEET THE JUDGES Moeen Abu Zaid Masterchef of the deluxe style of hotel cooking USA

Charles Azar Master Consultant Chef President of the delegation of L’Academie Nationale de Cuisine ME and Gulf Lebanon

Guillaume Gomez Best Craftsmen of France President of the French Republic Chefs Co-President of Euro-Toques France France

Thomas A. Gugler Hosting more than 150 exhibitors in over 2,700 square meters of exhibition space, HORECA Jordan returns to Zara Expo in Amman from 10-12 October. The show is expected to attract more than 7,000 trade professionals from around the region looking to do business. "We are happy that HORECA Jordan, by far the largest hospitality and food exhibition in the country, is being held for the fourth time in Jordan. This places Jordan on the global map of hospitality," said Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board. HORECA Jordan boasts a number of exciting competitions that showcase the talent of 170 chefs, baristas and hospitality professionals. The Hospitality Salon Culinaire welcomes more than 10 international judges, who

will evaluate the skills of the country’s best chefs during nail-biting competitions. The Bed Making Competition, Art of Service Competition and the Al Ameed Barista Competition also return to the program. In addition to local exhibitors, the three-day event will feature a number of international stands from Italy, France, Romania, Turkey and UAE. Thuraya Husseini, chairperson and CEO of the Lawrence & Husseini Consult, the event organizer, said, “HORECA provides a platform for companies to meet face-to-face with their clients and network with opportunities to grow their businesses. It is also a place where people can discover the latest innovations, and witness talented professionals in action.”

HORECA Jordan is the ideal setting to showcase Ivy Hygiene Solutions’ innovative eco-friendly products. By incorporating our products, the hospitality sector can meet its customers’ needs and improve customer satisfaction Emile Haddad, Managing Partner, Ivy Hygiene Solutions

Being a Jordanian coffee brand, we are proud to be part of HORECA Jordan for the fourth year and being the sole sponsor of the Barista Competition contributes greatly to our presence as exhibitors Adel Daher, General Manager, Al Ameed Coffee – Jordan

SPONSORS • IVY Hygiene Solutions • Al Mubdioon For Restaurants-Steakanji • ARAMEX Jordan Limited • Europcar Jordan • Robina • Grand Hyatt Amman • Roya TV • Al Farida Group • Al Raya Group Barista Competition • Al Ameed Coffee Bed Making Competition • Springrest



Hospitality Salon Culinaire • Meat & Livestock Australia ( MLA ) • Bayzar • Campagna • Qualiko • Hygiene consultant - Diversey • Ocean • Semaz Trading & Distribution • Miles • Fregento Art of Service Competition • Ivy Hygiene Solutions • Royal Academy of Culinary Arts

President World Association of Chefs Society (WACS) Germany

Tarek Ibrahim Corporate Certified Master Chef Meat & Livestock Australia Egypt/UAE

Yasser Jad President Saudi Arabian Chefs Association (SARCA) KSA

Miltiadis Karoumpas President Hellenic Chefs Federation Greece

François Pozzoli Best Craftsmen of France «Baker» 2004 France

Hossam Soliman President Egyptian Chefs Association Egypt

Gökhan Tufan President All Chefs & Patissiers Confederation of Turkey Turkey

Lucien Veillet President L’Académie Nationale de Cuisine France

Cornelia Volino Secretary General World Association of Chefs Society (WACS) Canada





Gearing up to what promises to be the biggest hospitality and foodservice event the country has ever seen, we take a look at what’s happening at Saudi HORECA, 27-29 November Welcoming more than 25,000 local and international visitors, the seventh edition of Saudi HORECA will be taking place at Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center this November. For the first time in Saudi HORECA’s history, the show will be spread across all four halls of the venue, totaling 15,000 square meters of exhibition space. Recognized as the country’s premier hospitality and foodservice trade fair, Saudi HORECA has so far attracted more than 250 exhibitors keen to leverage the business



potential of the event and tap into the lucrative Saudi market. “Saudi Arabia is experiencing an exceptional period of expansion in the hospitality and foodservice sectors, evidenced by a 20 percent growth in the size of our exhibition from last year,” said Jad Taktak, general manager of Semark, the organizer of the show. Indeed, 2017 sees a record number of international pavilions at the event. In total, 18 countries have confirmed their participation at the show, where they will bring their nations’ leading companies and products to the forefront. In addition to being a strategic meeting place, Saudi HORECA shines a bright light on rising talent. More than 200 participants will compete in the renowned Hospitality Salon Culinaire, in a bid to impress a

INTERNATIONAL PAVILIONS Australia Bahrain Bulgaria China Czech Republic France Greece India Italy

Jordan Kuwait Lebanon New Zealand Serbia Sri Lanka Tunisia Turkey UAE

panel of international judges, including Eric Briffard (France), Maroun Chedid (Lebanon), Thomas A. Gugler (Germany), Karl Heinz Haase (Germany), Samaan Hilal (Kuwait/Lebanon), Tarek Ibrahim (Egypt/ UAE), Yasser Jad (KSA), Miltos Karoumpas (Greece), Kamal Rahal-Essoulami (Morocco) and Lucien Veillet (France).




Overview of the Beirut Restaurants Festival at the Trainstation, Beirut

Marking its second edition, the Beirut Restaurants Festival kicked off at Beirut’s Mar Mikhael Trainstation on the 29th of September. The threeday event featured over 60 participants comprising Beirut's top restaurants, bars and pastry shops, and attracted over 15,500 visitors. Organized by the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-clubs & Pastries in Lebanon, in partnership with Hospitality Services and with the support of the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, the festival's aim was to reaffirm the strength of Beirut as an international food capital. Commenting on the event, the Lebanese Minister of Tourism, Avedis Guidanian, said, “The Beirut Restaurants Festival is key in further driving healthy growth instrumental in

reestablishing Lebanon as a go-to destination.” Tony Ramy, president of the Syndicate, said, “The hospitality sector is clearly very vibrant and businesses are doing quite well. Events of this kind affirm that reality and we are proud to be in attendance.” During the opening ceremony, chef Youssef Akiki of Burgundy restaurant was awarded with a trophy for his "Outstanding Contribution to the Culinary Scene in Lebanon." Speaking about receiving the prestigious accolade, Akiki said, “Despite having received numerous international acknowledgments, this is probably one of the most relevant and dearest to my heart as it was given in recognition by people I love and respect, driving me to work harder to achieve more.”

Chef Youssef Akiki being awarded the "Outstanding Contribution to the Culinary Scene in Lebanon" trophy










GOURMET WEEK (13 - 17 NOV) Gourmet Week marks its fourth edition with more than 30 of the leading restaurants in and around Beirut offering exceptional deals throughout the week. Guests can take advantage of promotions including discounts and special set menus.

As the premier whisky tasting event, Whisky Live Beirut gets set to celebrate its second edition at Le Yacht Club Beirut, bringing more than 40 of the world’s finest whiskies to the capital. Specialist whisky producers, distributors and suppliers from around the globe will gather to present their unique Scotch, Irish, bourbon, blended and single malts to an audience of over 2,000 whisky aficionados. During the event, visitors will be able to attend more than 25 masterclasses with international brand ambassadors to learn

more about the art of tasting. Whisky experts Rob Allanson, editor of Whisky Magazine, and Marlene Leon, from of La Maison du Whisky in Paris, will be present to host special tasting sessions of rare and limited edition bottles in the dedicated VIP Room and Collectors’ Room.

The participanting restaurants are Al Sultan Brahim, Batchig, Burgundy, Casino Du Liban, Celcius, Chez Sami, Couqley, Diwan Beirut, Eau de Vie (Phoenicia Beirut), Ebaladi, Ecafe Byblos, Ecafe Sursock, Echtar - La Maison du Jazz,

Fred Bistro, Gordon's Café (Le Gray Beirut), Indigo on the Roof (Le Gray Beirut), Jazz bar (Hilton Beirut), Kempinski Summerland Hotel & Resort, Le Bristol Hotel, Le Ciel (Hilton Beirut), Le Phenicien, Titanic Piano Bar (Le Royal Hotel & Resorts), Liza Beirut, Mayrig, Old Pub, Olivos (Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel), Shogun Lounge, Sofitel Le Gabriel Hotel, Soto, Sydney’s Club Bar and Restaurant (Le Vendome Beirut) and Venezia (Hilton Beirut).

Furthermore, a number of bars will be serving innovative whisky cocktails, while the on-site whisky boutique will provide visitors with the chance to purchase bottles from a selection of the finest international whisky brands.

13- 17 NOV


just got tastier! Celebrating the finesse of fine-dining, Gourmet Week opens the door for food lovers to experience the best tastes in town at great prices! Take advantage of special set menus and discounts at more than 30 of the top restaurants in and around Beirut Held concurrently with

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CALENDAR OCTOBER 12 – 14 ITALY SIA GUEST International Hospitality Exhibition Rimini Fiera S.p.A. 16 – 18 SULTANATE OF OMAN FOOD AND HOSPITALITY OMAN Omanexpo LLC 19-21 LEBANON WHISKY LIVE Hospitality Services

Chef Youssef Akiki of Burgundy, Beirut

Showcasing the very best in food, wine, spirits, kitchen equipment and more, the Beirut Cooking Festival returns to BIEL exhibition center for its seventh edition from 16-18 November. Visitors will be able to discover a whole range of items, from bigger brands to artisanal goods, and browse more than 100 stands. In addition, over 30 of the finest chefs, and beverage and lifestyle experts will be present to share with the public their passion for food, drink, health and wellbeing through a series of live demonstrations and workshops at the Chefs’ Theater and Beverage and Lifestyle section.

A dedicated food court will also be available for festivalgoers to enjoy a bite to eat. Around 20 vendors will be serving international and Lebanese fare. Joumana Dammous-Salame, managing director of Hospitality Services and event organizer, said, “This is a true celebration of the richest flavors and latest cookery trends. Food is at the heart of Lebanese culture and we are honored to host an event of this magnitude to unite those that share a passion for gastronomy while elevating the profile of Lebanon as a center for culinary excellence.”

SALON DU CHOCOLAT BEIRUT (16 - 18 NOV) As the unmissable event for chocolate enthusiasts, Salon Du Chocolat Beirut returns for its fourth edition to the BIEL exhibition center, with over 60 stands showcasing the latest in chocolate, pastry and confectionery.

Elsewhere, visitors will be able to watch more than 30 of Lebanon’s top pastry chefs and

28 Oct. – 1 Nov. FRANCE SALON DU CHOCOLAT Event International S.A. 30 Oct. – 2 Nov. EGYPT HACE EGYPT Egyptian Group for Marketing


Food and fashion join forces at the chocolate Fashion Show, where Lebanese designers and renowned pastry chefs will work hand in hand to create fabulous dresses made out of chocolate. A total of 12 dresses will be showcased at two runway performances at the Salon du Chocolat Beirut, and visitors will also be able to see the dresses on display on the remaining days of the event. This year’s show, which takes place under the theme “Winter Wonderland”, welcomes designer to the stars Jean Louis Sabaji, who will be collaborating with Lebanese master consultant chef Charles Azar to create the Fashion Show’s masterpiece. For the first time in Lebanon, a chocolate sculpture will be created by the renowned Lebanese artist Rudy Rahme in partnership with Charles Azar.

20-24 ITALY HOST MILANO Fiera Milano

14 – 16 CHINA FHC CHINA CIE - China International Exhibitions Ltd. 16 – 18 BEIRUT 7th BEIRUT COOKING FESTIVAL 4th SALON DU CHOCOLAT Hospitality Services s.a.r.l salonduchocolatbeirut.con

consultants in live demonstrations at the Choco Demo. Kids can also get involved at Salon du Chocolat Junior, a special kids’ tasting area.

27 – 29 KSA SAUDI HORECA Semark







In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with HN, veteran hotelier Amine Moukarzel talks exciting expansion plans, areas of focus and the key differentiators related to services across the regional hospitality industry 38


How is the regional industry currently faring compared to other markets? The hospitality industry in the MENA region is pretty versatile, in part because the major players in tourism have, for years, demonstrated great ingenuity on all fronts. Hospitality establishments operating throughout the region have circumnavigated all regional pressures. The development of hotels has remained a focal point in the real estate sector, with the tourism industry a top employer and provider of gross domestic product across respective local economies. However, we will see a change going forward, as we need to strengthen the offering, delivery and performance of hotels to fully benefit from the partnerships between the private and public sectors.

What can you tell us about some of the most promising ideas and projects you are currently working on? As the hospitality sector continues to evolve, any steps or activities undertaken should aim to maintain that momentum. Human resources are still the key focus. However, product improvement, novel technologies and fulfilling customers’ expectations remain the most challenging facets of the industry. One key factor we have worked on is evolving the Golden Tulip brand to cater to the millennial audience, while adopting the new travel trends to maintain operational leadership for the next 20-30 years. With Louvre Hotels Group, our brand’s main entity and the ownership of Jin Jiang International, the budget hotel sector, is set to grow stronger throughout our region, as it is playing a more important role than ever before, especially at key and secondary destinations. Tech support coming from our research and development (R&D) departments in China and Paris provides unparalleled insight into our electronic distribution channels, with e-commerce and e-marketing reflecting a positive outlook for return on investment (ROI).

Which markets are you most interested in breaking into right now and why? The MENA region remains the most important inbound and outbound marketplace. Saudi Arabia, in its entirety, represents the largest and most important market for the hotel sector. In Lebanon, the diaspora has played a major role in our economy and the country remains a target for future developments, offering plenty of expansion opportunities. Another country we are looking at is Syria, where we already

have three developments underway. Iraq and Egypt are two equally important destinations that could benefit greatly from our versatile brand of Louvre Hotels, which range from two to five-star establishments.

Based on our aggressive expansion plans, we intend to be present in every capital in the Arab world by 2020 In addition, our aim is to develop 10 Campanile hotels in Algeria, with an equal number in Georgia. We will also have a second hotel in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and are soon to become the largest operator in the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai will benefit from the development of the new Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn, in preparation for Expo 2020. Additionally, we plan to develop three Kyriad hotels and five Campanile hotels. Based on our aggressive expansion plans, we intend to be present in every capital in the Arab world by 2020, thereby ensuring that our customers, employees, investors, developers and owners are in good standing.

What role does interaction and passion play in your work and how do you incorporate them into the establishments you manage? Every trip teaches us something new. In that respect, we should be able to adapt these ideas and incorporate them into their respective markets. This is a never-ending learning curve, with technology playing a major role, be it in the field of installed equipment, electronic mobile services offered or seamless room access.

Mergers and acquisitions are the order of the day. What are the advantages and disadvantages for both the establishments themselves and guests? The advantages are numerous, ranging from synergy management and loyalty programs to the enhancement of continued productivity. Whether it will help the establishment become better is a matter that remains open to question. I do not want this statement to be misunderstood, since there are far too many moving parts, especially when considering political unrest, looming security issues, taxation and reductions in oil and gas prices.

What is the main driver in hospitality? The tourism and hospitality industry, irrespective of the technologies deployed, people will remain the main drivers of this well-oiled machine. I would also like to emphasize the importance of our slogan, ‘International Standards, Local Flavors’, which is highly-indicative of the strategy

which, over many years of operations, has brought us great success.

What are some of the key differentiators that are instrumental in adding value to the guest experience? The hospitality sector remains a major player in any local economy throughout our region. We are witnessing the development of hotels in Saudi Arabia, in spite of economic recession, which is tricky, considering that there are over 25,000 hotels rooms to be developed in Makkah. The same applies to the hotel projects in Dubai and Riyadh. Another challenging factor is driving business referrals to these destinations. Our properties in Makkah and Madinah are major venues, welcoming religious pilgrims. On the other hand, Dubai has a different customer profile, and is primarily focused on creative, innovative product offerings, from exhibitions, conferences and events all the way to family tourism. In that respect, airlines have played a major role for developers, as we have seen from the growth of these carriers throughout the Arab world. Yet, irrespective of the kind of traveler you are, the guest experience remains an important platform in every hotel, whether budget, mid-scale, up-scale or fivestar resort, as today, we evaluate the hotel’s performance through guest feedback on social media.

AMINE E. MOUKARZEL President/ Partner Golden Tulip - MENA Region Louvre Hotels Group – MENA Region






MENA HOTEL ASSET PRICE INDEX In each of the selected cities, Colliers provides asset price estimates per key for five and four-star hotels in both the primary and secondary markets. The publication, the first of its kind in the region, aims primarily to provide various stakeholders, such as hotel owners, developers and investors, with an insight into the different regional hotel markets, and help to promote further discourse around hotel asset pricing in the region.

Calculation of asset prices in each city

Colliers Hotels MENA launched its MENA Hotel Asset Price Index report as a new quarterly publication at the end of 2016. The series provides an estimation of hotel asset prices across 20 key cities in the MENA region. Filippo Sona, director/head of hotels at Colliers International MENA , sheds light on how this report could play a vital role for hotel investors

Colliers has carried out its pricing estimations for all the key markets and individual hotel categories based upon a stabilized, hypothetical 200-key hotel. Using this benchmark, Colliers has projected a 10year operational cashflow and derived individual category price estimates, by way of discounted cashflow analysis. The assumptions used in compiling the projections are based upon the latest upto-date market data, along with trading information from individual hotels that are participating in the respective markets. The capitalization and discount rates applied are based upon an analysis of the known transactional evidence, and Colliers’ opinion of investor sentiment in each of the various markets and hotel categories. Overall, Colliers observes that comparable hotel

yield levels can be difficult to assess, due to a lack of transactional evidence across most of the subject markets. Frequently, hotels are offered for sale at unrealistic price levels and in an off-market manner. Therefore, transactional levels are much lower when compared to more mature markets in Europe and North America. When assets do transact, attaining the exact details of the sale remain difficult, as many deals are completed by connected parties, which affects the transparency available in the market.

Outlook As real estate markets become more sophisticated in the region, Colliers is optimistic that market transparency will improve, which will invariably assist in the compilation and further development of its hotel asset price index. In the coming years, and based upon the development timeline of assets and developers’ (and owners’/ investors’) exit strategies, Colliers expects to see an increase in the number of hotels being offered for sale across the MENA region, especially within the UAE. This would present opportunities for institutional and highnet-worth investors to acquire a range of typically high-income-yielding, internationally branded hotels, whilst also gaining exposure to the hospitality industry.



Q1 2017 Q2 2017 (in USD '000) (in USD '000)




Q1 2017 Q2 2017 (in USD '000) (in USD '000)







The loyalty program encourages ‘loyal’ behavior between a hotel and its guests that will hopefully evolve into a lifelong bond, benefiting both clients and the property’s wallet. Ralph Nader, CEO at hospitality consultancy firm Amber Consulting, explains It all started 40 years ago when international hotel chains began to develop unique key strategies aimed at not only attracting more guests, but also enticing repeat customers to favor their brands and create an emotional tie. “It gets customers to choose you beyond the rationale of price and location because they have an emotional affinity to your brands and will go out of their way to consistently stay with you,” explained Bob Behrens, vice president, Marriott Rewards, the oldest continuously operating program in the hotel industry, which dates back to 1983.

Why it’s good for hotels Research shows that it costs five to eight times less to retain existing customers than to attract new ones, which explains why hotels have chosen to create and pursue the development of loyalty programs. Don Berg, vice president of loyalty programs and partnerships for InterContinental Hotels Group commented, “We’ve proven conclusively that when a member joins the program, they give us 36 percent more of their share than they did the year before they enrolled in the program.” Berg added that members are cost efficient for the hotels, since they are three times more likely to use the direct channel than travel agents or online agents when making their bookings.



Ongoing evolution More flexibility and customized advantages: According to a survey conducted by Hilton, people want their loyalty points to be more flexible, more valuable and more useful. In light of these findings, Hilton Honors introduced the option of pooling points with up to 10 friends or family members at no cost and in any increment size to provide more buying power. In addition, Hilton’s members can book a room night using a combination of points and cash, allowing those with fewer points to still enjoy savings and redemption options. Updated new benefits: New offerings are being added to the big hotels’ loyalty programs, with VIP access to sporting events and culinary experiences proposed by Starwood Preferred Guest’s SPG Moments to the Marriott Experiences travel packages, just some examples of initiatives rolled out. The most recent comes from Hilton, which will be the first company in the hotel industry to partner with Amazon and allow membership holders to buy online products with their points. Smart apps: Nowadays, one of the main focuses of hospitality firms is tech-savvy apps to better serve guests who are not only looking for a customized experience, but also for fast transactions. Hence, Marriott rebuilt its app from scratch this year to provide its member guests with better experiences. In other developments, Hilton and IHG both added new features to their mobile apps.

Marriott at the top Before merging with Marriott in September 2016, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) was the leading loyalty program amongst all hotels, with its easy online application and its unique partnership with Emirates Skywards that allowed guests to earn one mile for every US dollar spent at the hotel, and one SPG Starpoint for every dollar spent on eligible

flights. This year, Marriott Rewards received top honors in the 2017 Hotel Loyalty Program, thanks to its merger with SPG, which saw travelers offered a place to stay in 5,700 properties worldwide.

The downside Becoming a member of a loyalty program is, indeed, a privilege, given the infinite list of benefits that are made available upon registration. However, it’s not plain sailing all of the time, and, in many cases, advantages need to be weighed up against inconveniences. Behind the luxurious offerings proposed by hotel loyalty programs lie a number of disadvantages and limitations. Most of the hotels do not redeem points when its members book through travel agents or online reservation platforms, for example. Also, saving points might not make sense, since they usually have an expiry date that members need to take note of. For instance, Marriott reward points expire after two years of inactivity and Choice privilege points expire after 18 months. One key inconvenience of the loyalty programs is the unavailability of some benefits throughout the chains' branches. A case in point is Hyatt’s elite membership benefits, which are only available at select hotels.

Customer recognition through personalization While some hotels compete to make their loyalty programs a major draw and give them priority, other high-end, five-star hotels, like Aman Resort, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula, believe that customer loyalty is built by offering personalized services and special recognition. Four Seasons opted to take this approach, choosing to develop a ‘guest recognition’ program. In its initiative, recognition is defined as understanding the distinct preferences and desires of each client, rather than a reward, points-based program.





As business and leisure stays merge, perceptions and expectations among hotel guests, who want to pay less, but expect more, are changing. However, there remains a niche of individuals who are still looking for the royal treatment and are happy to pay for it. HN speaks to three prominent architects who share their take on room design and décor

Sofitel Tamuda Bay & Spa, Tetouan - Tangier, Morocco

Design interplay It’s not just about designing a place anymore, it’s about designing an experience that flows from check-in to sleeping, bathing and dining. Psychographic profiles are driving design decisions. It’s not enough for a hotel to label itself as business or leisure. People are doing business while they play and they are playing while they travel for business. There has to be a degree of escapism, fun and leisure, even in business hotels. People want to go beyond their routine and try something new. As a result, a guest room has become a cocoon, encompassing functionality, multifunctionality and comfort, all in a space of 35 to 45 m2.

Self-pampering People are taking better care of themselves by frequenting spas. As a result, guest bathrooms have become more relaxing and cozy, less stark and slick, with more natural light. In spaceconscious city hotels, you will see large pampering shower experiences, rather than a tub and shower. The exception is a soaking tub where space allows. The one place in which bathtubs are still a must is in family-oriented resorts and then, usually, only in double-bedded rooms.

Functionality When guests work on their laptops, they do not want to look at a wall. They want to see a view, but they also want to watch TV. They want enough space to indulge in relaxing activities in their rooms as well, hence interiors that are warm and friendly, all while maintaining a design edge for the experience. Guestrooms are getting bigger because they have to be multi-functional. Also, rooms used to give guests a dining table and provide desks. Now, you might see a table on casters that can be rolled up to the foot of the bed. Guest have new working tools that are light and compact, allowing them to work on the bed, a lounger or a couch. The working desk is not a priority fixture anymore. Guests can decide how the table is used, whether as a desk or a table for breakfast in bed. They need a place to relax and watch TV, a place to just lounge. They need to be able to customize the experience by changing lighting levels. Furthermore, the TV itself has to be connectable to mobile electronic devices so the guests can prepare their business presentations or watch the movie or series they previously downloaded.




Hotel de Crillon – A Rosewood Hotel , Paris, France Stephan Julliard

Experience design As an architect by vocation and an interior designer for hospitality and residential projects, I strongly believe in the power of every detail to contribute to the creation of unique experiences. The world has become one and travelers of tomorrow move at a very fast pace. Whether it is for business or leisure, coming back to the hotel room is a privileged moment. Regardless of its scale, range or budget, a hotel room must convey a feeling of intimacy, a sense of being in a curated space, where comfort, yet stimulation of all senses reign! Our design approach is holistic and we like to think of the guest’s journey and scenario as a memorable one. From the overall concept, layouts, color scheme and furniture design to the choice of the tiniest object, art piece and books, every detail matters. This is the way we approached our latest hospitality project, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, in Paris, where the suites were conceived as a Parisian apartment with both clean lines and modern comfort. The use of strong bold marbles evokes a historical edge, drink cabinets are specific to every room, often tucked within a wall-to-wall library, where every object is carefully curated and placed in an artful manner. I like to call these ‘objects of affection’, since their presence triggers emotions and curiosity. They invite the guest to embark on a different experience; touch, feel, read and celebrate the moment! The desk is replaced by an elegant round table for multiple use. The mix of contemporary furniture and classic French armchairs, made modern by the choice of plain textured fabrics, creates the balance between old and new. Seeking spaces with intense resonance in each of our projects, we aim to weave stories which can only belong to one place, bridging heritage and innovation, cultures and their knowhow with forwardthinking creativity.

Pascal Dangin

The attitude


Inn of the Anasazi, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A delicate equilibrium Balancing design and functionality is always a challenge. The story you want to tell with the design and experiences it creates are integral, and even more at the forefront of our thinking these days. In designing a hotel, it’s more than just creating a pretty space; it’s the feeling and experience you have in the space. One size does not fit all anymore! In that respect, the three main criteria are: the brand, location and demographic, all of which should work in harmony to achieve the final effect.

The environment People are extraordinarily savvy these days, and, as a designer, you want to create an experience relevant to the environment they are in. If someone is taking a business trip to downtown LA but will only be there for two days, they still want to have a sense of the downtown neighborhood while they are there. Most cities are big and complex with many different neighborhoods. In appealing to a savvy clientele, the designer really needs to have that understanding and be mindful of it in the execution phase of the project.

The size


We are seeing more hotels with smaller guestrooms, because hotels are shifting importance to a more social environment. The rooms no longer drive revenue for a hotel - the amenity spaces and public areas do. I might visit a hotel to have a drink at the bar or dinner in the restaurant, but not stay there. Increasingly, the public spaces are appealing to locals and guests alike, driving the neighborhood to interact with the property and its guests in a new, more social way.





TRAVEL BOOKING TRENDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST become the default means to pay online. In the UAE and KSA, we already see that mobile bookings are growing at a rate of 155 percent year on year. As the mobile ecosystem continues its rapid evolution, we expect the percentage share of mobile transactions to rise above that of desktop bookings within the next three years.

We’ve known for a while that travel is fast moving online. But what are the specific trends and sub-stories dominating the digital travel market in our region? And what are the broad indicators telling us about the future? Crucially, where precisely does mobile stand in the grand scheme of the regional travel market? Stuart Crighton, CEO of Cleartrip addresses these and other critical issues for HN We set out to answer these questions with the inaugural edition of the Cleartrip MENA Insights Report, the first report to explore unique travel booking trends in the region. Compiled using Cleartrip’s own proprietary data, airline data and passenger behavior information, the MENA Insights Report draws on Cleartrip’s vantage point as an e-commerce leader, working with over 400 airlines to provide an insightful, holistic view of air travel trends in the region.

Mobile phones at the center of travel Among the key insights revealed in the report, which is based on travel data for the period January to June 2017, is of course the breakneck pace at which mobile is putting itself at the center of travel. Transactions via mobile devices made up 20 percent of total bookings, while traffic from mobile stood at 40 percent. This indicates that, as conversion rates keep improving, mobile could soon



Traffic distribution between mobile and desktop platforms remained broadly consistent across major cities in the region, with mobile traffic varying between 40 percent and 50 percent, while traffic on websites was in the range of 50 percent to 60 percent.

Taking the next three spots were Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku, which have seen bookings rise 959 percent, 201 percent and 182 percent respectively during the period analyzed Android is the dominant mobile operating system, accounting for 70 percent of traffic, with iOS making up the remaining 30 percent. In terms of browser share of traffic, Google Chrome emerged as the most popular browser choice for travelers by far, with an 80 percent share, followed by mobile browsers at 8 percent, Internet Explorer at five percent and Firefox at four percent.

Credit outperforms debit Credit cards continue to be the preferred payment method for travelers in both KSA and the UAE. While credit cards had a 77 percent share in the payments pie within the Kingdom, as against 21 percent for debit cards, in the UAE it stood even higher, at 84 percent, with only 14 percent of travelers choosing to pay for flights with their debit card.

Indians dominate outbound travel Indians are the largest expatriate community in the Gulf region and Indian cities unsurprisingly dominated the list of top outbound travel destinations for GCC residents, although the list excludes destinations in the GCC. Kochi and Mumbai emerged as the most popular destinations in India, followed by Kozhikode, Trivandrum and the capital, Delhi. Ranking among the top five

destinations outside of India and the GCC region were Manila, Cairo, Amman, Beirut and Kathmandu.

Ranking among the top five destinations outside of India and the GCC region were Manila, Cairo, Amman, Beirut and Kathmandu Top trending destinations The list of the top 10 trending destinations is perhaps where the biggest surprise lies, with Da Nang in Vietnam finding itself at the top of the ladder. This charmingly quaint city registered a staggering 1933 percent increase in bookings during H1 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. Taking the next three spots were Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku, which have seen bookings rise 959 percent, 201 percent and 182 percent respectively during the period analyzed. Significantly, each of the three destinations offer visa on arrival to residents of the UAE, illustrating the huge benefits that a liberalized visa regime can bring in boosting the travel and tourism industry. The report also throws interesting light on last-minute flight booking trends; two



Rest of the world

Da Nang


Manila Cairo














Mumbai Kozhikode Trivandrum New Delhi

Addis Ababa






Amman Beirut Kathmandu


*Top destinations excluding GCC

*Percentage increase versus same time last year

in five customers were found to book less than seven days in advance, with 11 percent making their bookings just a day ahead of departure. Zero-day bookings equaled five percent of the total number of bookings. Unsurprisingly, UAE residents were found to travel more frequently than their counterparts in other parts of the region, with the average number of trips per individual at a high 1.93. There are many factors driving rising demand for travel among residents in the UAE, the foremost being the excellent connectivity the country offers to Asia, Africa, and Eastern and Central Europe. Add to this the fact that expats in the UAE tend to have higher levels of disposable income as compared to those in other MENA countries, and it’s easy to see why they travel more often. In providing a comprehensive picture of trends and patterns shaping the region’s online travel industry, Cleartrip’s MENA Insights Report aims to serve as a handy tool for all stakeholders of the travel ecosystem to better understand and address the forces of change and make informed decisions that will allow them to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

WHO LOVES TO TRAVEL THE MOST? Average number of trips per individual in the last 6 months KSA 1.61

Kuwait 1.61 Bahrain 1.83 UAE 1.93

Oman 1.71

*Not a subset of the entire population






MEETS THE EYE same year, while providing 1.14 million jobs, representing 9.7 percent of total employment. This share is forecast to rise by 3.7 percent in 2017.

With several UNESCO-listed sites to its name and a huge project pipeline, there’s more to the Kingdom than Mecca, as Tarek Hammoud, offshore team manager and consultant at Hodema consulting services explains Think holiday spots and Saudi Arabia is unlikely to spring to mind as a mustvisit destination, ticking few of the usual boxes mandatory for international tourists. For many, the country’s beaches and local dishes remain a mystery, with media coverage often focused instead on KSA’s strict dress code and alcohol ban. However, as home to Mecca, one of Islam’s most revered holy sites, Saudi Arabia offers another kind of break which makes it hugely popular across niche markets. Mecca attracts up to 2 million worshippers during the Hajj alone, with more than 15 million pilgrims flocking to the ever-expanding western city throughout the year. In 2016, the country welcomed 18 million visitors, with 120 million passengers passing through KSA’s airports. The travel and tourism industry contributed USD 65.2 billion to the country’s GDP in the



A projected GDP per capita of USD 5378 in 2017, up from USD 5184 last year, and a rapidly growing population, which is forecast to reach 37.6 million in 2025, are expected to benefit the Kingdom’s travel and tourism industry. In a further positive sign, investment in the sector is expected to rise by 9.8 percent in 2017, up from USD 28.6 billion in 2016, when it accounted for 14.7 percent of total investment.

Vision 2030: An ambitious strategy for the future While KSA is recognized as one of the top destination for pilgrims, with its tourism industry mostly focused on the religious segment, the cultural niche, which remains largely untapped, has a great deal of potential. The ancient city of Mada’in Saleh, for example, was awarded UNESCO heritage status in 2008 and has been likened to Petra in Jordan for its breathtaking historical beauty. Indeed, the country is home to many archeological and heritage sites, although few foreigners have visited these historical and natural wonders, since visas are rarely granted to international visitors other than pilgrims and tourists from the Gulf. To date, most other foreigners have entered Saudi Arabia on a work visa or to visit relatives. However, the tide could be about to turn. While the government has yet to announce any change in visa

policy, it has given a green light in recent months to several major projects involving huge investments, including the enormous new Red Sea resorts, spanning dozens of unoccupied islands. The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage has also announced an investment of USD 7 billion in tourismfocused initiatives around the country, under its strategic Vision 2030 plan for the Kingdom. The main objective of the National Transformation Plan is to boost the industry by developing inbound and domestic tourism. According to official data, domestic tourism will grow by 7.5 percent per annum until 2020, with inbound tourism expected to expand by 6.1 percent. This ambitious program is aimed at diversifying the economy and boosting the contribution made by non-oil related sectors against a backdrop of oil-price volatility. The government has set three main objectives, the first of which is to increase the number of Umrah pilgrims to 30 million per year. Efforts to facilitate visitors’ journeys to the holy sites range from mosque expansion plans to major infrastructure projects in Mecca and Medinah. With this in mind, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced major airport expansion works in Jeddah and Riyadh. King Khaled International Airport will house an extra terminal, a large mosque, one of the world’s tallest control towers and a new separate terminal for royalty, heads of state and VIPs. King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is also being overhauled. Increased capacity means it will now be

able to accommodate up to 80 million passengers a year. The facility will also have a special Hajj Terminal, offering direct access to Mecca and Medinah via rail. Low-cost airlines, such as Nesma and Flyadeal, have put themselves forward, in anticipation of a growing influx of visitors. The second target is to double the number of UNESCO heritage sites as part of broader plans to boost domestic leisure tourism. Four sites have already made the list, with another 10 under consideration. Thirdly, the government plans to increase public spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9 percent to 6 percent. The recently appointed Board of the General Entertainment Authority is already moving forward with these objectives and has set the bar high, with plans that include the construction of Al-Qidiya, a new entertainment mega-city just outside of Riyadh. With a target completion date of 2022, the project will comprise nine cities or sections focused on entertainment and educational experiences. The theme park company Six Flags has also announced its expansion into Saudi Arabia, with the first center slated to open around 2020-2021. In a separate development, an Islamic museum is planned.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage has also announced an investment of USD 7 billion in tourism-focused initiatives around the country

in just one year. The highly anticipated Abraj Kudai Tower, which, with 10,000 rooms, is set to become the world’s largest hotel when it opens its doors, is also in the pipeline. Increased capacity has had only a minimal impact on rates, which remain stable, having risen from USD 214 in 2016 to USD 216 this year. Khobar, Dammam and Dhahran in the Eastern Province also enjoyed their fair share of growth, helped by the opening of Aloft Hotel. Key numbers reached 6039 in 2016, marking a rise of 1062 on the previous year.

F&B pipeline looks promising Predictably, the F&B sector followed suit, with several high-profile restaurant openings in key cities. For larger purses, the new, high-end Nozomi Jeddah and Khobar, Cipriani Riyadh, Novikov Riyadh, Nobu Riyadh, Okku Riyadh and Em Sherif Café Riyadh are opening in the coming months, with STK and Nusret slated for launch in the city next year. In the casual segment Al Balad, Ihop and Leila min Lebnen have all opened their doors in the capital. New clusters are appearing on the university boulevard and at the Fiorenza complex (Takhassousi), while two shopping malls have been announced: the Mall of Saudi, with 3.2 million square feet of retail and a large snow park, and The Avenues Riyadh, a USD 1.9 billion shopping complex.

With high hopes come strategic challenges For now, early indications are that the Vision 2030 program looks promising. However, the authorities face key challenges in steering the plan forward.

Hotel market review The projects for the hospitality industry also look promising, especially within the midscale segment, which is in particular demand, buoyed by a growing local and international middle class. In Riyadh, where big names such as Nobu and Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences have chosen to establish themselves, 10,053 rooms are under construction. The capital city is looking to attract 88 million tourists by 2020 and position itself as a regional business hub. The opening of Courtyard by Marriott Olaya and the Faisiliah Resort and Spa in 2017 has already increased the branded hotel supply from 8,363 to 10,992 keys and reduced the average rate from USD 200 to USD 185 in Riyadh. In Jeddah, the country’s second city and its cultural hub, the opening of Centro Shaheen by Rotana and Assila Hotel by Rocco Forte group in 2016 has given a boost to the branded hotel supply, increasing keys from 5,646 to 7,274. In contrast, rates have gone up from USD 259 to USD 267 due to stronger market demand. However, Mecca remains well ahead in the game, with 24,133 rooms under construction. The Swissotel Al Maqam is the latest addition to an everexpanding sector, which has jumped from 13,911 keys to 21,093 in branded hotel supply

First comes the impact of oil prices on finances. While oil is currently priced at roughly USD 50 per barrel, stagnating or decreasing prices would make the implementation of major projects more difficult. Security is also an issue; the ongoing war in Yemen is weighing heavily on the government and could generate an internal political and security risk. KSA’s draw is, in itself, a risk factor. Too much enthusiasm could lead to an oversupply of hotels, restaurants, retail, offices and malls that adversely affects overall performance. Closely related is the supply of human resources. The authorities will need to provide adequate training to the sizeable number of prospective employees before they can take up their roles at these places of work. New universities have been established offering degrees, which could additionally help to tackle the country’s unemployment problem across local communities if implemented strategically. The decision to increase taxes for foreigners has also raised concerns. Expats sponsoring their families living in KSA face higher fees and there are fears that foreigners equipped with key skills may, as a consequence, turn their back on the Saudi market. Bold and ambitious, Vision 2030 encompasses the government’s commitment to reducing KSA’s dependence on oil revenues. The fact that KSA is entering unchartered territory means question marks hang over some areas of this long-term vision for the country, though there is undoubtedly no shortage of enthusiasm or financial backing for the implementation phase.










An in-depth look at the latest tax legislation in KSA, what industry players can expect and how to prepare, by Chadi Chidiac, managing partner of PROTOCOL The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are preparing for the introduction of a Value Added Tax (VAT) in the region starting January 1, 2018. The proposed tax will be charged on most goods and services at a standard rate of five percent, other than limited, specifically exempt and zero-rated supplies. Businesses registered offering goods and services at the standard or zero rate are usually entitled to claim a credit for VAT incurred on their business expenses or input VAT. The Gulf Cooperation Council Unified Agreement for VAT and Excise Tax is the framework through which GCC member states will implement their own tax, excise tax and regulations at national legislation level. Member state ratifications, such as that undertaken in Saudi Arabia on January 30, 2017, represent one of the final stages



before the taxes are applied. The publication of the draft tax law is an important step for the Kingdom en route to a trouble-free implementation of the new tax, in line with its efforts to improve communication with taxpayers, while creating public awareness.

The hospitality impact

The law in effect

• Tour operators and packages • Transportation • Hotel accommodation • Restaurants • Ticketing fees • Entertainment and utility fees, such as telephones, television and internet • Recreational fees, such as weddings • Conferencing activities, such as exhibitions • Service charges • Agency services (acting as an intermediary or coordinator)

The excise tax law became effective on June 10, 2017, in KSA on key items, namely energy drinks and tobacco derivatives, at 100 percent, and soft drinks and carbonated water at 50 percent. Input VAT cannot be claimed on supplies of exempt goods and services, meaning that this constitutes a tax cost for these businesses. When it comes to the impact of VAT on companies in the hospitality and leisure segment, there are important issues to note. In most tax jurisdictions, hospitality and leisure supplies are considered taxable. As such, industry players in this area are required to charge VAT on their supplies, mostly at standard rate. They are also entitled to deduct or collect VAT incurred on their expenses. Over the years, GCC states have collectively welcomed millions of visitors, with arrival numbers still surging in most destinations. The likelihood, therefore, in the GCC context is that hospitality and leisure companies will be producing supplies which will be considered as taxable.

The hospitality and leisure arena includes a range of subsectors, such as tour operators, hotels and restaurants, and airlines. The scope of their services is broad, encompassing:

Thus far, the purpose of introducing VAT remains unclear. Personally, I believe that implementing it simply to plug the gap in the deficit makes no sense, since the bottom line will reach no more than three percent of GDP. Rather than seeking shortterm profitability, it will be more beneficial to focus on putting in place sound institutional government structures for the long haul. In brief, recalling the experiences of some other markets, while the benefits of VAT might have included additional income for the authorities, the tax has also helped to produce a greater level of transparency

across the business environment. To give just one example, an organization will immediately have to put regulatory structures in place to report these numbers, which, in turn, will boost the financial and operational infrastructure of the business. The first impression we receive when spending time with hospitality communities across the region is that they feel the new tax legislation will undoubtedly make a difference to their operations in terms of pricing policies and operational process. However, given that VAT will be set at an introductory rate of five percent, well below that of countries such as the UK, (20 percent), and Lebanon (10 percent, possibly rising to 11 percent), the sentiment seems to be optimistic. Several operators are confident that their business will feel no adverse effects and are keen to better understand how VAT will operate in KSA. Further down the road and nearer to January 2018, additional measures and modifications will need to be implemented by hoteliers and hospitality operators in order to be VAT ready. It is imperative that they set up the necessary system for VAT, ensuring that management charge it and that suppliers are VAT-registered, by revising all certifications. Industry players must bear in mind that extensive training will be required, with processes much more complex than simply adding five percent to an invoice. Businesses will typically need between a year and 18 months to become VAT ready. Within your organization, it’s your responsibility to adopt a whole new mindset. The first step is to recognize that VAT brings additional costs, as well as income generation. The second is to be aware that there is now a regulatory requirement by which all stakeholders inside the organization must abide.

were obliged to access a portal and familiarize themselves with it.

Consumers still testing ground The challenging economic conditions in 2016 weighed on Saudi consumers, a trend particularly pronounced in the restaurant and hotel segments. However, a recent ground survey executed by PROTOCOL showed a recovery in sales for the first quarter of 2017, up 10 to 15 percentage points. With a struggling economy producing a plateau in sales, GCA has plunged sharply. Indications are that eating at home, rather than venturing out to restaurants, is a preference for many, according to PROTOCOL’s key performance indicator (KPI) of sales volumes, which showed grocery spending outpacing restaurant spending. The data indicated that checks at restaurants and hotels were 5 - 7 percent lower on average so far in 2017.

Discounted rates – latest weapon for the hospitality industry It has become clear that many restaurants and hotels have turned to discounting in an effort to fight the slowdown in consumer spending. Back in December 2015, food for consumption at home became five percent cheaper in the Kingdom, while restaurant and hotel rates fell around two percentage points. Lower prices can also be attributed to a stronger US dollar.

Impact of the new laws as yet unclear The national policy of replacing expatriates with Saudi nationals in the private sector, known as Saudization, remains a burden for many businesses, especially those looking for low-skilled labor. Around 70 percent of workers in the Kingdom are foreigners. Moreover, expats make up between 80 and 90 percent of the lowskilled labor workforce.

A levy of SR 200 per month is paid by companies operating in the Kingdom on each expat employee they hire over and above the number of local workers. An expat levy to be phased in by 2020 will increase labor costs, especially those of hotels and restaurants, by pushing charges to up to SR 800 per worker. The food and beverage industry will also be directly affected by the 50 percent tax on soft drinks, which aims to curb obesity levels in the country, and the 100 percent tax on cigarettes and energy drinks.

Optimism for tourism A recent hike in development related to tourism has also been evident of late. A total of 170 hotel masterplans have been finalized and transferred to the execution phase in the KSA, 48 of them in Riyadh alone, highlighting the potential for a further surge in the country’s tourism sector. Currently, F&B spending per visitor comprises about 14 percent of the spend in Dubai and 32 percent of that in Abu Dhabi.

Consensus The vision of the Kingdom’s leadership, the royal family, is to aim high, think big and make bold moves. Given current macroeconomic conditions, it won’t be plain sailing, as a diagnosis and analysis of the challenges and opportunities within the KSA’s hospitality sector for the months ahead indicate. However, overall, growth rates look likely to accelerate in 2018. The IMF expects the Kingdom’s growth to rebound to 2.3 percent y-o-y, slightly less than the lender’s October forecast of 2.6 percent, but still heading in the right direction.

How to be VAT ready There are several steps that companies need to take in order to be well prepared for the new tax: 1. Look internally at the data-processing circuit. 2. Examine all procurement channels, regulations and policies, the contracts that are in place, the payment methods and facilities, as well as all agreement terms. If you have contracts that roll over to 2018, you are going to have to amend them. 3. IT systems must be a priority. They will need to be completely updated and transformed into VAT-compatible systems. When the 10 percent sales tax was introduced across Dubai hotels, operators






10% 0%











The world of travel booking has undergone a major transformation, due to the technological advancements and digital tools that have taken the travel consumer’s journey online. According to PhoCusWright, half of all bookings are now made online. Online travel bookings are forecast to reach up to USD 817.54 billion by 2020. Serge Chamelian, managing partner of h-hotelier, explains what this means for businesses in the travel industry The rise of digital has severely disrupted the industry in terms of the distribution channels used to sell hotel inventory. In the travel industry, the hotel product can be available for sale on many distribution channels, such as the hotel’s brand website, the hotel’s mobile app, the central reservation office, otherwise known as the 800 number, offline travel agents and online travel agents (OTAs). The central reservations system (CRS) was handling the transactions performed on the above-mentioned channels with ease until, following the advent of the channel manager, OTA transactions, in particular, began outpacing other distribution channels. This trend has cast doubt on the future of the CRS. To better understand the challenges that the CRS faces versus the channel manager, it’s helpful to a take a step back and look at how booking systems have evolved over the years.



The CRS is a computerized reservation software system used to maintain information, inventory and rates to manage the reservation process and for conducting transactions across both independent hotels and chains. These systems have traditionally played a key connecting role with offline travel agents which make reservations through global distribution systems (GDSs). The CRS acts as a bridge for the various channels, providing them with an inventory and sending a confirmation to the hotel. The GDS acts as a middle-man, connecting offline retail travel agents and corporate buyers to hotels through the CRS. The commission paid by the hotel for securing the booking is expensive as it covers all the intermediaries. Thus, the channel manager has become an attractive option for managing the online distribution channel, cutting the commission in half by providing an effective all-in-one solution. As the channel manager connects the hotel directly to hundreds of OTAs, and since 50 percent of bookings are now online, some are asking whether the era of the CRS is approaching its end and the systems are set to become obsolete.

The channel manager The channel manager handles online distribution channels, such as OTAs, and applies parity of pricing in order to sell hotel inventories to multiple channels across the globe. According to PhoCusWright, 60 percent of online bookings are controlled by a single OTA, which is The channel manager is the only way to effectively reach a global audience without risking overbookings. For example, when a booking is made via one channel, the inventory is reduced across all of the hotel’s other channels. A channel manager allows hotels to control the inventory for sales, the selling price and the terms of each channel,

in order to optimize sales at the hotel and obtain the best prices, based on the hotel’s targets. Launched 20 years ago, OTAs were a natural evolution of offline travel agencies and have, for years, represented a small, but stable distribution channel for major hotel brands. OTAs accounted for just 4 - 5 percent of reservations between 2004 and 2010. However, in recent years, their share of bookings has increased dramatically, reaching 8 percent in 2015 and having now exceeded 10 percent.

The channel manager’s benefits 1. Channel managers maximize the hotel’s bookings and increase its revenue. By giving a diverse range of agents the opportunity to sell your rooms, you’ll be able to sell your entire available inventory at any one moment. This is the most reliable way to continue increasing your revenue over time. 2. Channel managers connect with markets that can be challenging to reach. The more OTAs your channel manager connects you to, the more markets you can tap into, without incurring additional fees based on how many channels you use. 3. Channel managers provide reporting. A good channel manager will allow you to easily track and measure which online sales channels are working. This gives you the intelligence you need to negotiate commissions and end partnerships that aren’t working for you. 4. Channel managers optimize the implementation of price changes across all OTAs in few clicks. For example, if you change your price three times a day over the next 365 days and you have 15 different online channels connected with five different room types and three rate categories, this leads to: 3x365x15x5x3=870,525 price changes.

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TOURISM IN THE LAND OF THE PHARAOHS have been more positive, including a Egypt’s tourism industry rise in internal travel for both leisure has historically accounted and business purposes, which is driving for about 13 percent of the up lodging online retail value sales. The strong presence and activity of online economy and corresponding travel intermediaries have encouraged levels of employment. rising numbers of customers to make While the country’s political their bookings online. In a separate development, Egypt is also sharpening its instability and social upheaval focus on medical tourism as an alternative have severely affected its to attracting mainstream visitors. A medical hospitality industry, the conference was held in March 2017 in country can still capitalize on Sharm El-Sheikh to explore the country’s potential in this segment. Longer term, the sector’s traditional role as heightened security measures, including an engine of economic growth those implemented at the country’s and employment, especially airports, are expected to provide tourists with added reassurance. The government with a brighter outlook has also made a concerted effort to beckoning. Its positive impact improve road infrastructure throughout can be increased, in particular, the country, which will have the two-fold effect of enhancing transportation and by enhancing linkages boosting safety levels. with other local economic employment opportunities for While the market has proven people in communities near resilient to shocks in the past, the antiquities sites

Ups and downs According to Euromonitor, the bomb attack on the road leading to the Great Pyramids of Giza in December 2016 and the kidnapping of two Mexican tourists earlier that same year, raised concerns among tourists about security levels in Egypt. These incidents affected the country’s tourism landscape, as did the decision to devalue the Egyptian pound, since many tourism companies incurred losses as a result of local price increases. Small airline companies, in particular, were badly affected by the economic instability that followed the floatation of the Egyptian pound, with some struggling to survive. Passenger numbers dropped significantly, with customers seeking lower ticket prices. However, other concurrent developments

concerns, with arrivals expected to record a third consecutive year of decline in 2017. While the market has proven resilient to shocks in the past, the government is investing heavily in marketing campaigns to revive visitor numbers. According to BMI Research, the inbound market is expected to contract by 3.2 percent in 2017 to 5.2 million visitors. However, the company noted figures released by Egypt’s Tourism Promotion Authority, which indicated that arrivals were up 51 percent in the first four months of 2017. If these figures prove to be accurate and growth continues, BMI said it would look to revise its forecasts. There were other positive signs for Egypt, with tourism revenues jumping by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017 to reach USD 3.5 billion, Reuters reported. The number of tourists visiting Egypt rose by 54 percent in the same seven-month period to reach 4.3 million, driven up by visitors from Germany and Ukraine. However, that number is still well below the 14.7 million who visited Egypt in 2010, before the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and heralded a prolonged period of political and social upheaval. Europeans made up 75 percent of visitors while Arabs accounted for 20 percent, said an official, who asked to remain anonymous. Egypt hopes the number of tourists will reach 8 million for the full year, up from 4.5 million in 2016. Tourist revenues should hit USD 6 billion in 2017, up from USD 3.4 billion last year, despite an ongoing flight ban from Russia. Russians accounted for a large proportion of tourists to Egypt, notably to the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

government is investing heavily in marketing campaigns to revive visitor numbers

Lower numbers of arrivals With tourism long a key contributor to Egypt’s national economy, existing transport and accommodation infrastructure is well developed across the country’s most established holiday destinations. The short-term outlook for the tourism sector, however, remains poor in light of ongoing domestic and regional security

KEY FORECASTS (EGYPT 2014-2021) 2014



2017 f


2019 f

2020 f

2021 f

Total arrivals, (in millions)









Total arrivals % y-o-y









International tourism receipts, USD bn









International tourism receipts, USD bn, % y-o-y









"Hotel and restaurant industry value, USD bn









Hotel and restaurant industry value, USD bn, % y-o-y









Source: BMI Research


2018 f

SELECT HIGH-VALUE PROJECTS IN EGYPT Rebooting plans According to BMI, the government is investing in a range of marketing campaigns to revitalize the tourism industry and take it back into positive territory. A regional tourism campaign launched in September 2016 has been the main recipient of USD 28 million of investment so far, with further marketing initiatives in the pipeline. Other measures to attract tourists include a proposed tourism harassment bill. If implemented, the law would see hefty fines imposed on anyone found guilty of bothering tourists in key areas such as Cairo. State-led initiatives and improving political stability are beginning to have a positive impact on the Egyptian hospitality and tourism market, which is showing signs of growth. The government has been working to improve bilateral relations with various markets, which could yield opportunities

Project Name

Estimated Value in USD Millions



Estimated Completion Date

Hayat Alex Park (Phase 1)

124 Million


Under Construction


The Address Hotel

300 Million





50 Million




Tropicana Splash Resort

100 Million




The Address Resort Marassi

150 Million




Four Seasons Hotel

100 Million

New Cairo



Fairmont Citystars

120 Million

Sharm Al Sheikh



DoubleTree by Hilton

85 Million




across sectors of the economy, including hospitality and tourism. The industries are also expected to benefit from several major hospitality projects taking shape that are scheduled to come on-stream in the near future.

Major hotels in the pipeline An uptick in tourism will likely create new

demand for additional hotels and resorts. According to BNC Project Intelligence, there is a growing market for branded hotels offering a world-class service. Major cities, such as Cairo, offered 15,652 branded hotel rooms in 2016, including the Ritz-Carlton (245 rooms) and the Royal Maxim Kempinski (331 rooms).


According to Raymond Khalife, executive board member at Semiramis InterContinental Cairo, there are several contributors to the hotel industry’s recovery in Egypt. These include: 1. The devaluation of the Egyptian Pound, which has made Egypt more attractive than any other destination and more affordable for budget tourists. 2. Strong advertisement campaigns and other efforts, led by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, to target the Far East and Russia, alongside other markets, including Europe, which have started to produce positive results. 3. Increased levels of political stability, which have restored trust among major foreign tour operators in Egypt as a safe tourist destination. 4. The mega projects that the government

is rolling out to develop the country’s infrastructure, which point to a revival. 5. The new upscale hotel brands entering the Egyptian market, including the St. Regis and the reopening of the Cairo Sheraton, among others, which suggest bright prospects for the

industry’s future. These factors have combined to produce healthy occupancy levels across hotels in Cairo, while other properties at the Red Sea are recovering quickly, supported by a gradual return of European tourists.






Within just two years of operations, Escobar has grown to become a multi-outlet barrestaurant that has stretched well beyond Lebanon’s borders


Rayfoun, Lebanon

Mark Chehade

The Backyard, Hazmieh, Lebanon

Seasonal summer venue in Printania Villa, Broumana, Lebanon



The Village, Dbayeh, Lebanon

17 years young

Jounieh, Lebanon

In the year 2000, MEC (Managing and Engineering F&B Concepts) saw the light of day, inspired by a young civil engineer’s passion for nightlife and understanding of the market. That entrepreneur was Mark Chehade, whose first endeavor was a pub in Monot called Rounders. This first successful project would pave the way for the launch of a series of fruitful industry concepts that have opened their doors across Lebanon’s bar-and-restaurant hubs, from Gemmayze to Hamra. MEC currently owns and manages five concepts with a total of 10 outlets; Lock Stock in Mar Mikhael, a café/bar; Stairway, a rooftop just above Lock Stock; La Palma, a Tex-Mex bar/restaurant in Hamra’s Makdessi street; Room for Three, a café bar in Badaro; and Pablo Escobar, another Tex-Mex bar/ restaurant. Chehade believes that creating original identities and selecting the right locations for his concepts so that they stand out from the crowd have both contributed to his success. He added that throughout his 17-plus years in the industry, the trend that has stood the test of time is bar-restaurants where visitors can enjoy drinks, great food and entertainment under one roof. “It’s a package deal, where some nights the bar turns into mini clubs with live entertainment,” he commented.

On the rise Chehade has introduced several F&B concepts and also played a part in the evolution of various nightlife ideas. He described pubbing as “trendier than ever”, but added that there has been a shift toward “a bistronomic kind of bar concept”, where food plays a major role in the outlet’s ongoing success.

Dynamic growth Escobar first opened at The Village, Dbayeh, in November 2015, spawning a chain of successful concepts throughout the area shortly afterward. The second outlet opened at The Backyard, Hazmieh, in June 2016 and, just one month later, a third was launched at the Printania Villa in Broumana. This year, three further branches were added to the network; one on Jounieh’s coast at Aigue Marine, which opened in June; another in Rayfoun, which was inaugurated in July; and a third which saw MEC take its success beyond the Lebanese shores to Larnaca, Cyprus, where a branch began operating in May. A new location is planned for Escobar in Beirut, although details have yet to be disclosed. “When it comes to outlets abroad, our next target will be Limassol, and we are still searching for a location,” Chehade said. He added, “We have received offers to open in Dubai, but these are still under negotiation. Our concept is adaptable in the Gulf region as our food plays a major role in the success of the Escobar concept. Alcoholic drinks can be replaced by non-alcoholic cocktails or smoothies in countries where alcohol is not allowed.”

Succeeding in a challenging market

Finikoudess Beach, Larnaca, Cyprus

The Lebanese are a well-traveled, demanding clientele and the local market offers a good base for testing various concepts, although it also brings with it challenges for entrepreneurs and F&B creators. According to Chehade, the country’s political instability remains a major challenge, having a negative impact on the number of tourists and expats entering the country. “Many F&B projects and clusters are opening despite the instability. However, only a few are doing well,” he acknowledged. “You’ve got to choose the project and location wisely, and ensure you give your bar-restaurant a solid identity, while sticking to the guidelines for sustainable success.”





THE WONDERS SERVED Of all the foods the world has to offer, the burger is, arguably, one of the most recognized icons. While much of the burger’s popularity is down to its simplicity, this trait, ironically, also presents fundamental challenges for restaurants when it comes to setting themselves apart from the competition. In the following fast-food feature, HN talks to some of the on-trend, innovative and hip joints dishing out creations that are mouthwateringly irresistible


JORDAN • Q restaurant ( • Volk’s Burger (facebook comVolksBurgerJo) KSA • Hamburgini ( • Sultan Delight Burger ( KUWAIT • Burger Boutique ( • Slider Station ( LEBANON • Burgr Co. ( • El Estez Snack Station (elestezsnack com) UAE • Buns & Cows ( bunsandcowsdubai) • Habibi Burger (




CLASSIC BURGER JOINT Walid Nasrala, Co-founder, Ministry of Food In 2010, an unusual-looking, canary yellow store opened its doors in Beirut which quickly became known as the first of its kind to serve only burgers. A passion for flame-grilled meat has prompted the owners of Classic Burger Joint (CBJ) to increase the number of outlets operating throughout Lebanon to a dozen over the past seven years, while also doubling that number by expanding across the region. Explaining what’s behind this incredible success, Walid Nasrala says, “Apart from using prime ingredients, like our grain-fed Angus beef patties and freshly baked buns, CBJ's burgers are always served with fries and coleslaw. When biting into the burger, you not only indulge yourself with a savory, juicy taste, but you also get to experience a certain vibe which takes you to that New York ambiance and back again.” If enjoying a bite of the Big Apple in public is not for you, never fear; CBJ’s burger truck and catering service allow you to experience the brand’s fare at the venue of your choice – two further talking points that truly set this joint apart.

FERDINAND GASTRO PUB Riad Abou Lteif, Chef/Owner, Ferdinand Quietly nestled in the heart of Hamra, off the main street, is a well reputed gastro-bar unlike any other. From its eclectic furniture to what appears to be an antiquated bar, Ferdinand is a destination that will undoubtedly surprise and delight visitors. Aside from its signature cocktails and vast collection of whiskies, the venue is a go-to destination for mouthwatering food, including its burger, which is a must-try. Riad Abou Lteif, who frequently exits the kitchen to visit the floor, says, “The freshly ground meat is of a superior quality, served on a premium toasted thick brioche bun, smothered with our in-house blueberry jam sauce, topped with cheddar cheese and crispy bacon strips, filled with ranch sauce, and given a hint of sweetness at the end. This combination is free from additives and made with tons of love.”

THE BROS Antranik, Roy and Ralph Balabanian, Managing Partners, The Bros

FROSTY PALACE Zalfa Naufal, Owner, The Food Box SARL Tucked in the bustling Mar Mikhael street, Frosty Palace is a tribute to retro diners, with silver colored booths and bar chairs that add warmth to the interior. Zalfa Naufal explains that the unusual name comes from the movie ‘Grease’, where the main characters ate burgers, sipped milkshakes and dreamt of love and angels. Reflecting on what differentiates the diner, she says, “I sometimes joke about the fact that what differentiates Frosty Palace from other places is that it is the only burger in town made by a woman. Truly, every burger place is unique and each one reflects a different personality. Another striking characteristic is built on a deep feeling that burgers are the ultimate comfort food, as well as the sexiest food on the planet when made with love and top-quality ingredients.” Since its opening back in 2012, Naufal has made around 40 different burgers that are constantly rotated, each tasting increasingly different from the others.

SMOKING BUN Nabil Hayek, Managing Partner, Burger Lab SAL Smoking Bun, a local home-grown burger joint with branches in Hamra and Mar Mikhael, describes its creations as ‘Gourmet Gone Street’. Elaborating on the initial idea behind the store, Nabil Hayek explains, “Our concept is unique because we dared to create only one burger. It’s a simple cheeseburger made using a special blend of Australian high quality beef, freshly grounded and prepared with attention given to even the tiniest details. All the ingredients we use are top quality and freshly procured. Our bun is made using a custom recipe we created and is prepared exclusively for us by our local baker, Le Relais. At the end of the day, we believe that you can only judge a good burger when you go for the simplest one... and that’s the one we serve!”

As a finance graduate, a gemologist and a chef, the three Balabanian brothers might be seen to have a somewhat odd combination of skillsets for breaking into the fast food industry . Yet what really distinguishes this one-of-a-kind setup from others is the amount of heart all three put into the entire eating-out experience. Their story began when they set-up a street food stand in Souk el Akel and, as they gained experience in the F&B industry, they decided to bring the street food and live cooking experience to Mar Mikhael. Describing the concept behind their success, Antranik Balabanian says, “What differentiates us is the emphasis on fried chicken burgers dipped in various homemade sauces, which has become a sort of trademark. Our concept looks and feels like a welcoming Bostonian neighborhood, where diners are friends who come to hang out, while watching their food being prepared. Another competitive advantage is the great price-value ratio, given that our portions are big, the burgers are messy and the relationship we have built with our clients is based purely on loyalty, which is why our outlet is our home!” OCT-NOV 2017 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME





Aaron Allen, founder and CEO of Aaron Allen & Associates, a global restaurant industry consultancy, shares his thoughts with HN on an industry that is generating increasing levels of interest Private equity (PE) is increasingly being accepted as an alternative to traditional bank financing or potential initial public offerings (IPOs) in the Middle East, with companies turning to these firms for growth capital or to monetize their stakes in their businesses. Regional merger and acquisition (M&A) activity slowed in 2016 on the back of low oil prices and market fluctuations. However, it has maintained momentum in the F&B sector across the broader MENA region.

F&B on firm footing While investments led by banks in the MENA region have been slow to recover to pre-recession levels, F&B is one of a few key industries that has shown more promise, particularly within the GCC countries. In 2014, F&B ranked third in terms of value per investment among industries in MENA. By 2016, F&B had catapulted to second in average investment size in the region.

M&As surge in 2016 M&A deals rocketed in MENA during the second half of 2016 to USD 30.5 billion, up almost threefold on the value of those made in the first six months of the year. The activity was largely driven by megadeals, including four transactions above USD 1 billion. In March, Amazon agreed to purchase the Dubai-based Souq. com, a deal described by Goldman Sachs advisors as “the biggest ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world”. The



arrival of Amazon in the MENA region is likely to spur both the digitization of retail and the overall economy. The company will have a major impact on restaurants and foodservice in the GCC. Though currently small when compared to the global average, regional e-commerce is seen as having high growth potential. Investors have already taken note of the trend towards digital. In April, Gulf Capital, one of the largest alternative investment firms in the region, said it had invested over USD 135 million in technology and e-commerce across the GCC. CEO Karim El Solh said the firm forecasts a substantial

increase in technology investments in the GCC and significant returns for the early backers: “The digital economy is having a transformational impact on our lives and economies, and ecommerce is at the heart of it,” he noted. “It is perhaps the top mega trend that will have a profound impact on every business in the GCC in the coming years.”

The biggest F&B deals in recent past The MENA region saw 15 PE deals between 2010 and 2015, 10 of which were F&B group-involved and six of which were concentrated in the UAE.


Quick service restaurant (QSR) brands were among the most popular investments, including: Carlyle Group’s acquisition of a 42 percent stake in Saudi Alamar Foods, the region’s master franchisee of Domino’s Pizza and Wendy’s; and Tharawat Investment House’s acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Hungry Bunny, a Saudi fast-food chain with outlets across the GCC. Global Capital Management, an arm of investment group Global Investment House, fully acquired the Bahrain-based QSR manager Yum Yum Tree Food Court in 2016, which currently operates across Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar and the KSA. The company operates more than 20 international and regional brands including: Vanellis; Subway (in Bahrain only); Teryaki, Pad Thai; and Al Mangal. Alghanim Industries and The Wendy’s Company had signed a master franchise agreement aimed at expanding the Wendy’s brand throughout MENA. Alghanim acquired the rights to develop Wendy's from the Saudi outfit, Alamar Foods. As part of the deal, Alghanim acquired all operational outlets in the UAE, with plans to open additional stores over the next 10 years. The company acquired Costa Coffee Kuwait in 2013. Fajr Capital, a major player in the Middle East PE investment, acquired UAE-based Cravia Group in May 2016, which operates some of the most recognizable F&B franchises across the MENA region. These include: Cinnabon; Carvel ice cream; Five Guys;


The region’s digital economy is set to double over the next three years, with the GCC’s e-commerce sales expected to reach USD 41.5 billion by 2020

through the development of national vision plans. Dubai implemented an Industrial Strategy 2030, containing initiatives not only in F&B, but also in aerospace, maritime, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, among others. Through recent investments in construction and tourism, the region hopes to leverage its infrastructure and airports to serve growing demand for food, specifically halal products. In KSA, a National Transformation Plan will be implemented through 2030. With so many plans in the offing, the region is widely touted as a growth opportunity, including the F&B market, which is projected to expand by 6.5 percent annually over the next four years. Given the number of regional incubators accelerating, the GCC’s VC industry will continue to grow.

and Zaatar w Zeit. Meanwhile, Gulf Capital took advantage of F&B potential in the KSA through its acquisition of Multibrands Trading Co, an industry leader with products serving KSA through franchised chains, hotels, cafes, bakeries and restaurants. Early in 2016, NBK Capital Partners (NBKCP) invested in Amo Hamza, a seafood casual dining chain in KSA. With six additional investments in the region, including Shakespeare & Company and Al Faysal Bakery, NBKCP is an important player in the GCC/MENA region’s F&B sector.

Diversification bodes well for the region There is clearly regional demand for the expansion of both homegrown and international brands. Still, while optimistic, investors remain cautious, due to macroeconomic conditions. As oil prices stabilize, PE in the region is also expected to pick up. Early stage venture capital (VC) style deals with technology startups will attract international and local interest, helping to increase M&A activity in the region. Countries and cities throughout MENA are playing their part, targeting economic diversification





Yum Yum Tree Food Court Co.

Global Capital Management LTD


Alghanim Industries

Wendys International


Cravia Group

Fajr Capital


Multibrands Trading Co.

Gulf Capital


Amo Hamza Seafood Restaurants Co.

NBK Capital Partners


ShaterAbbas Restaurants International

First Investor QSR


Al Faris Restaurants (Johnny Rockets)

Diamond Lifestyle (Al Masah Capital


Al Safadi Restaurants

Audacia Capital Ltd


Kudu Corp

Abraaj Capital: TPG Capital LP


Bateel International

L Capital Asia


Operation Falafel

Awj Investments



Awj Investments



Awj Investments


Shakespeare & Co.

NBK Capital Partners


Chef Middle East


Hungry Bunny

GE Equity Partners || International Investment Bank, Tharawar Investment House


Alamar Foods

The Carlyle Group MENA Fund


Hassan Mohammed Jawad and Sons

Standard Chartered PE


International Food Services

Growthgate Capital


Intercat Hospitality

QInvest Capital

e-commerce sales expected to reach USD 41.5 billion by 2020. Consequently, demand for food delivery and mobile payments will definitely increase. As economies in the region diversify and household income levels rise, the F&B industry stands to benefit, especially in casual dining and fast food. Evolving demographics, including younger populations and working expats, will also fuel F&B growth in the region. Tourism will drive further growth. The World Travel & Tourism Council expects travel to the region to grow at an annual rate of 7.8 percent over the next seven years. Based on recent investment activity in the F&B sector, coupled with the need for major partnerships between international brands seeking new markets and national companies looking for new ventures, the MENA region will remain a hotbed of M&A activity.

What the future holds The GCC’s foodservice industry is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost seven percent to USD 24.5 billion by 2018, up from an estimated USD 18.8 billion in 2014. QSR players represent the largest segment, at just over 58 percent. Still lagging, but with much potential, the full-service segment stands at just over 31 percent. Major expansion is expected in retail e-commerce, a trend that is already beginning to impact restaurants. The region’s digital economy is set to double over the next three years, with the GCC’s

ABOUT AARON ALLEN & ASSOCIATES Aaron Allen & Associates is a global restaurant industry consultancy, specializing in brand strategy, turnarounds and value enhancement for leading hospitality companies and over 2000 senior level strategy engagements across 70 countries and six continents.






Like many other sectors in the MENA region, the F&B business has faced challenging times. A prolonged period of economic uncertainty has resulted in more cautious consumer spending, while operators, too, have been wary of investing in expansion in the wake of rising rents and other external factors that risk impacting their bottom line. Anurag Bajpai, head of retail, KPMG Lower Gulf, shines a spotlight on investment trends in the MENA F&B industry The good news is that the F&B sector has shown more resilience than many other sectors, such as banking, real estate and even retail. According to industry estimates, investments in F&B have been moving from traditional mainstay markets, like the US, to Europe and more recently, the Middle East. Alongside healthcare and education, F&B is one of the few sectors where mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity has maintained its momentum in the MENA region in the past few years. Furthermore, investment from private equity investors and funds are also helping F&B concepts to expand across the MENA region and facilitating the introduction of new concepts. This trend has been on the rise in recent years and is expected to continue in the near term.

Insight into the MENA region The boom in tourist arrivals in the GCC



accounts for a large and growing portion of F&B demand, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both countries receive an average of over 25 million tourists annually who are contributing to a vibrant F&B economy. Additionally, major international events, like Expo 2020 in Dubai, are expected to create a healthy appetite for new players in the market. Certain underlying demographics make the F&B market in the MENA extremely attractive to investors, especially international chains and small startups. These include a highly diverse, growing and relatively young population, large expatriate communities, rapidly expanding tourism and high levels of affluence. Furthermore, as more economies in the region look to diversify their economies away from oil and gas, the F&B sector could potentially benefit from investment in popular restaurant formats, like Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), cafes and casual-dining options.

Mall contribution Mall expansion across the MENA region is also likely to result in added demand for F&B options, as can be seen in the expansion that has taken place in Oman. Muscat took delivery of more than 100,000 square meters of new gross leasable area (GLA) for retail in 2015, earning it 25th spot on CBRE’s Global Shopping Centre Development list, the highest ranking of any MENA city. Majid Al Futtaim also opened its USD 708 million Mall of Egypt in Cairo this year, which features the first indoor ski slope in Africa. In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the largest mall operator, Arabian Centres, is currently rolling out 10 new malls across the Kingdom. Mall developers are now, more than ever, convinced of the potential of F&B and entertainment as drivers of

success at their establishments. As a result, they are increasing the GLA allocated to F&B across malls in the region.

Disruptive technology Technology has been a major gamechanger across retail space and also in F&B. The advent of food apps and other technologyenabled offerings, like online delivery, are fueling investment. Food apps, in particular, are playing a role in restaurant reservations, as well as table management, going well beyond lead generation alone.

Challenges to sustainability While these are all healthy signs of potential growth, certain challenges remain. For many individual operators in more mature F&B markets, like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, increasing competition has resulted in a growing struggle for footfall and revenue. Many establishments also have to juggle high rental costs with the race for space, topline growth, rising food costs and ever-increasing staff attrition. These challenges may force some operators across cuisines and formats out of the market. Trying to achieve growth through continually opening new outlets or rapid geographical expansion could be unsustainable. Operators are becoming increasingly aware that in the longer term, the appeal and the quality of the concept will determine success. The need to test, understand and protect the viability of its concepts is key to an establishment’s success. In a market characterized by discerning consumers and ever-increasing competition, focusing solely on geographic expansion and neglecting the development of strong brand presence could be counter-productive.


RESTAURANTS According to an article published a few years ago in Forbes, mom-and-pop restaurants are perfectly capable of competing with the big chains. With the trend for authenticity firmly established, homegrown F&B concepts in the MENA are flourishing. Naim Maadad, chief executive at Gates Hospitality, a regional hospitality and F&B consultancy firm, tells us how such genuine concepts can drive income and attract growing numbers of clients



1. Be authentic to the last detail Authenticity as a concept needs to be 100 percent in the brand ethos and represent the soul of its very existence. Authentic means genuine in every aspect of the brand, from fit-out and positioning to uniform design and even operating hours. If the restaurant is a sushi specialty venue, for example, it would not be open for breakfast. These intrinsic and minute details in brand evolution are what make food and beverage dining concepts genuinely authentic. Be it uniqueness, innovation, guest service excellence, the sourcing of home-grown organic and sustainable produce, seasonality of ingredients, health consciousness in approach, support for the local community, or enhancing the wholesome guest meal experience to unparalleled and holistic heights, such traits need to be well thought out before setting up the brand ethos.

2. Consider the location and the dĂŠcor carefully The site of the restaurant should certainly match the genuineness of the brand. In addition, local demographics need to do justice to the concept. The guest demographic profile of the venue should be well researched. Also key is the ambience of the restaurant, which should be in sync with the concept in terms of dĂŠcor, artifacts, sourcing of furniture and fixtures, texture of materials used, layout



and every aspect of the theme. Imported glitzy material and shiny fine polished marble floor alien to the region, for example, will only jar in a rustic, traditionally themed restaurant.

3. Create an appropriate menu Menu design and content is another area requiring plenty of thought before finalization. Do the look, feel and food offering dovetail with the brand concept planned for the venue? Ensuring authenticity at implementation stage is a must, even down to the last detail, such as the material selected for menu covers.

The site of the restaurant should certainly match the genuineness of the brand 4. Pick local produce The locally-sourced scene is evolving in terms of produce and a market based on concept needs and wants. It is entirely up to the concept owners/operational management to calculate what they need and to decide whether to source it locally or have their foodstuff imported via professional supply companies. However, if the concept is homegrown, then locally sourced supplies should be the prime focus. Knowing the market is crucial, as is having a precise knowledge of seasonality of products and revising your menu content to ensure profitability. The focus on the local community is often the missing link. Shifting attention back to homegrown and local produce which is fresh and organic, rather than imported supplies, can produce a multitude of benefits. These include bringing down food costs and enhancing the health conscious approach, as well as encouraging the development of the local community which, combined, will heighten the overall guest experience. Homegrown authenticity is undoubtedly the future of the culinary industry in the UAE. However, operators across the hospitality sector need to have a thorough knowledge of market conditions and be aware of the changing industry landscape. The winners will certainly be industry players who create the most authentic and homegrown brands that are genuine in all aspects and detail.

ABOUT GATES HOSPITALITY Committed to the development of world-class hospitality, asset management and F&B products, Gates Hospitality was launched in 2010. It is currently developing a suite of homegrown F&B concepts, and also holds the franchise rights to several strategically handpicked restaurant brands across the MENA region.



Art of Excellence. Catering by design. Catering to you. Catering your special event is a privilege.

Chahin Blg, 3rd Floor, Achrafieh main street, Beirut, Lebanon +961 71 834 038 | +961 3 834 038 | Beirut, Lebanon |


Coffee and Tea 66


Every morning, the world awakens to tastes and flavors that long have become part of our daily lives and to a very large degree, a necessity to starting the day. While some prefer coffee, others enjoy tea, yet both are intricately linked and date back thousands of years. In the following cover story, Hospitality News delves into this colorful world to bring you the most comprehensive report on this year’s global and regional coffee and tea industries

In collaboration with

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RØST sample roaster The RØST sample roaster is engineered to reduce the workload for the user and is easily controlled with the combination of a 5” touch screen and a rotary knob. All the roasting data is saved and is accessible on any device, whether used in manual mode or fully automatic. Through the software, the user can follow the roasting in live view, design new roasting profiles, share them and keep track of cupping data. RØST

BREWING UP A STORM Every passing year brings a wealth of discoveries on the hot beverage front and, while some novelties will make more waves than others, you can bet that the hits will keep on coming

This year was no different, especially for the coffee industry, which global experts believe is gradually maturing into a fifth wave. The first of four pillars to consider is the shift away from a ‘science-centric’ approach to one that places equal emphasis on the actual business model itself, in light of rising concerns about supply and demand. This, in turn, is driving both the growers and major brands to rethink their approach. Another issue relates to the adoption of a more holistic approach in which the in-house roasting element is employed to create a smart boutique feel, delivering a customtailored, artisanal service on a model of scale. This will require the individuals operating within the HORECA industry to acquire a special set of skills, a trend known as hyperspecialization, which, in the years to come, will fuel the sector and drive it forward.



Finally, as consumers’ expectations rise, getting ‘just the right’ cup of coffee, will no longer suffice. As ‘exacting’ standards become the norm, increased investment in new technologies will hit new highs. Once all of these elements fall in sync, the results will yield a highly-focused and more efficient business model, fueled by a collectively sincere passion for the craft. This will lead to the delivery of original concepts that are sure to hit the right note with consumers, especially among millennials who will soon become this sector’s largest market segment.

Riding the coffee wave According to the Global Coffee Platform Organization’s annual report for 2016, demand for coffee will outstrip supply at current rates by 2030. This is partly due to the fact that consumption has doubled in the last 35 years, from 4.9 billion kilograms to 9.5 billion in 2016. As a result, the estimated value of the global industry has risen to more than USD 100 billion, with 120 million people working in the coffee segment. This rise in demand, is fueled by an increase in consumption by drinkers aged 19-24, better known as millennials, market research company Mordor Intelligence concluded in its Global Coffee Market Forecast 2017-2022 study.

According to the National Coffee Association (NCA) report on drinking trends, gourmet coffee is a key driver of the overall increase in consumption. The association found that 29 percent of consumers take a cup of gourmet coffee on a daily basis, compared to 19 percent who drink traditional coffee each day. Given the fast-paced lifestyle associated with millennials, retailers are experimenting with new ways to serve more customers in shorter timeframes. According to the NCA, 2017 was a year in which a number of telling trends were noted. First, the NCA noted, consumption has become increasingly based on public interaction as opposed to a private home affair, thanks in large part to social media. As a result, the emphasis has shifted to the broader experience rather than price. To make full use of this reality, the report advises retailers to invest in more captivating packaging and intriguing labels that prompt consumers to take photos and share them online. It also highlighted the benefits of using the same labels to clearly indicate the brand’s commitment to sustainability. Meanwhile, a separate report by World of Coffee (WOC) 2017 Championships, compiled from interviews with café owners, roasters, equipment manufacturers, competitors and coffee associations, highlighted the rising number of consumers found to be learning about coffee and becoming interested in specialty varieties. As a result, Saudi Arabia, along with other Middle Eastern countries, has begun purchasing relatively large amounts of Baratza’s high-tech grinders to meet growing demand. This trend is expected to result in more micro roasters and cafés popping up in unexpected places.

New machines and app-based smart coffees Due to technological advances, coffee shops are investing in fully automated machinery which has proven to be more stable and remove the ‘human error’ element from the equation, since grindby-weight capabilities allow for greater precision and consistency. Yet while more tech enters the equation when baristas use modern coffee-making machines, the attention is undoubtedly focused on the social element. One example is this year’s best new product winner, titled RØST sample roaster, which, according to the manufacturer, offers consumers the option of downloading an app and allows users to record, monitor and control the roaster via Wi-Fi.

Najjar Raqwa Najjar Raqwa is the revolution in Lebanese coffee that serves the perfect cup of coffee at a press of a button, every time. CAFÉ NAJJAR

The gap between retailers and producers While a number of changes are sweeping through the coffee world when it comes to marketers, sellers and brands, owners of plantations tend to be playing catch-up when it comes to adapting and building on these advances. Brazil International Coffee Week, which brings together 800+ producers across Brazil with international coffee professionals, aims to bridge that gap by connecting the farmers with market innovators, the event’s content director, Mariana Proença, explained. In a March 2017 report, BMI Research described Asia and Latin America as the “fastest-growing regions for hot drink sales over our 2017-2021 forecast period”. Coffee will be the “outperforming category across emerging markets”, the report noted, “driven by rising incomes and high levels of investment by multinational food and drink companies”. BMI added that product innovation, particularly in terms of healthy and ready-to-drink offerings, will support

Supplier spotlight: Café Najjar

Karl Najjar CEO

Café Najjar What, in the past year, have been some of the most interesting novelties introduced? The latest innovation by Café Najjar, is Najjar Raqwa, which elevated the

traditional Lebanese coffee experience to the next level. It is a revolutionary coffee maker that brews a consistently fresh and perfect cup of coffee at the press of a button, thereby combining heritage and innovation for a whole new contemporary approach to Lebanese coffee preparation. Najjar Raqwa coffee maker offers ease of use and convenience, as well as consistency, with a 45-second serving time, the ability to prepare multiple cups with Ashwe, an auto-wash system, auto-boiling temperature control, as well as measured water quantity in every cup (60ml). Each capsule consistently delivers a richly satisfying taste, as it contains five grams of the finest quality 100 percent Arabica beans that were roasted to perfection then ground

and vacuum packed to seal in the freshness and aroma. The two available variants are Classic and with Cardamom.

What are the changes you expect to see throughout the coffee industry? Consumers will continue to ship coffee 30 years from now and demand will continue to increase. However, production might be affected due to climate change, which is especially threatening to the Arabica coffee beans as these are particularly sensitive to temperature variations. According to some estimates, coffee consumption is projected to grow, presenting a worrisome reality as current production is barely keeping up with demand.





growth in developed markets. “Furthermore, global sales of coffee, tea and other hot drinks will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4 percent between 2017 and 2021, reaching a total value of over USD 261 billion annually,” it noted. “Emerging economies will be the principal driver of growth in hot drinks over this period, with sales rising at 7.8 percent CAGR.”

Ready to drink As our world becomes faster paced, sales of ready-to-drink coffee and tea will present highly lucrative opportunities for beverage manufacturers who are constantly looking for ideas to help them increase their market share. Driven by the introduction of new products, especially in the cold-brew market, various brands will be catering to consumer’s busy lifestyles by making beverages more appealing and desirable. These concepts work by encouraging consumers to pick up a bottle of coffee at a local cafe or grocery store without having to wait in line. The main contenders in this market are Coca-Cola, which introduced a new ready-to-drink coffee range in the US under its Gold Peak brand, and Starbucks, whose double-shot espressos and iced lattes are proving to be a huge success. BMI also reported that while tea is the traditional drink of choice for many emerging market households, particularly in Asia and MENA, coffee will be the predominant driver of growth in the hot drinks industry over the coming years. This segment is forecast to expand at a rapid pace due to the range of options and choice available, which include mixing varieties of instant coffee with milk, sugar and other ingredients. Another industry heavyweight, Limitless Coffee & Tea, predicts that consumers will be mixing coffee with tea in the years to come, thereby eliminating the need to choose one or the other. Two such mixes building momentum are Ethiopian coffee combined with organic Moroccan mint tea, and green tea melded with French roast coffee.

New kids on the block While the global coffee production industry is led by Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia, other somewhat smaller, emerging producers like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia have shown themselves keen to increase their market share, primarily by introducing previously unknown flavors. The trend for novelty is likely to support their efforts and gain them more traction in less time than the industry has witnessed to date.

Novelty the buzzword in the MENA region The Middle East coffee market is set to hit USD 4.4 billion by 2021, according to a Euromonitor report published in September 2017. The report highlighted the shift in consumer appreciation toward coffee as an artisan, specialist and quality experience,



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rather than a commodity. “As a beverage with multi-cultural appeal, coffee consumption in the region is growing twice as fast as the global average, putting pressure on the foodservice industry to stay relevant to its customers,” it found. The popularity of coffee and tea in the MENA region dates back more than 800 years and has become ingrained in the history and culture of its people. In a move to investigate these origins further for the brand, Kopi Luwak, thought by many to be the world’s most expensive coffee, conducted a report entitled ‘Coffee Culture and History in the Middle East’. The producer found coffee to be the secondmost traded commodity in the world, with around 2.25 billion cups consumed every day. Its findings indicate that during the 1200s, there was a momentous point at which the Muslim community in Arabia began brewing coffee for its stimulant powers. At the time, the drink was used to keep them awake for extremely long prayer sessions. The beans were parched and boiled to make a drink. Coffee was consumed solely within

The GINO pour-over coffee dripper is hand-blown from dishwasher-safe laboratory grade lightweight glass that is heat and scratch resistant. The angle of the interior cone and size of the three holes at the bottom are engineered to ensure an even extraction for a pure and flavorful brewed coffee, while the doublewalled keeps the heat insulated. NOTNEUTRAL Arabia until the 1600s, after which its reach extended to other parts of the globe. At this time, an Indian pilgrim known as Baba Budan left Mocha with seven beans, having fallen under the beverage’s spell during a pilgrimage to Mecca. These beans proved to be the start of Europe’s love affair with coffee. By the 15th century, coffee was prevalent in Yemen and began spreading to Egypt, Persia, Turkey and Syria, where it was enjoyed within individual homes and at public coffee houses. These public coffee houses were known as ‘qahveh khaneh’ and were frequented by all classes of society.

Local brewing methods and tastes In general, Arab countries employ one of two brewing methods, although the additions that go into the mix vary. The beans can

either be roasted heavily or lightly and since the beverage has a slightly bitter taste, it is often coupled with dried or candied fruit. Furthermore, and depending on the country, the coffee is sometimes brewed with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom or cloves. A coffee pot known as a ‘dallah’ is the main serving vessel. In Egypt, coffee follows the Turkish method of preparation, which involves serving the drink in a small cup with a layer of foam (face) on top, an indicator of sorts that the coffee was properly prepared. Lebanese coffee is generally boiled in one take and has no ‘face’. The most common countries of origin for this coffee are Colombia, Kenya, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Yemeni coffee, meanwhile, has a comparatively mild taste and is slightly lighter in color due to the beans used. The word ‘mocha’ is thought by many to have its origins in this type of bean. Immediately after the beans are ground, the roaster may add cinnamon sticks, saffron filaments or green cardamom, resulting in an aromatic flavorful cup of coffee. According to existing literature, Yemen could also be the birthplace of the modern word for coffee. Referred to as ‘qahwah’ there, the word coffee became ‘kahveh’ in Turkey, which was then changed to ‘koffie’ by the Dutch, before it finally evolved into coffee in the English language. Saudi Arabian coffee is lightly roasted using green beans, with cardamom added before serving, while Turkish coffee undergoes a simmering process and is often blended with sugar.

Middle Eastern specialty coffees A 2016 report in Arabian Business put the number of new coffee shop licenses issued between 2014-16 throughout the region

at 2200, driven largely, it said, by a huge expat community that has had tremendous exposure to a much broader range of coffeebased beverages, qualities and brewing methods. The report listed a number of wellknown specialty coffee companies, including: Specialty Batch Coffee, an all-in-one roaster, equipment supplier and coffee educator based in Dubai; Raw Coffee Company, a specialty coffee chain that focuses on ethically sourced coffee; and Stomping Grounds Specialty Coffee Hub in Dubai, described as where coffee meets art and science. Saudi Arabia’s coffee lovers, meanwhile, can also find specialty coffees at: Tale Coffee; Manual Brew Café; 12 Cups; J Café; Golden Kangaroo; The Roasting House; Mekyal Café; Brew Crew; Alchemy Coffee Roasters; Drip Coffee; Warm and Frosty Café; Medd Cafe and Roastery; Brew 92; and Cup and Couch.

Cold goes cutting edge This year’s coffee-drinking trends are a combination of old and new, largely due to operators’ attempts to garner a dedicated following by setting themselves apart from their competitors. Coffee is still usually perceived primarily as a hot beverage, yet research suggests somewhat surprisingly that cold varieties are becoming increasingly popular. In 2017, market penetration in the U.S. for cold brews reached 21 percent, up from 15 percent in 2015, according to data from the New York-based National Coffee Association, indicating huge opportunities for roasters and retailers alike. As the wave of specialty coffees grows, innovation is following, with companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks already

Supplier spotlight: Nespresso

Manuel Sancho Middle East & Africa Business Development Manager

Nespresso What, in the past year, have been some of the most interesting novelties introduced? On the B2B front, we recently launched two new grands crus, Espresso Vanilla and Espresso Caramel, both of which use one of our bestsellers as the base, the Espresso Forte. It is most balanced yet still intense, a superior choice for flavored coffee. Keep in mind that this is the first time we have introduced flavored coffee in our professional range. These sophisticatedly-flavored coffees are well balanced and can be enjoyed alone or with milk to create interesting recipes for today’s connoisseurs. We’ve also noticed an increasing interest in milk-based recipes and are working closely with our business partners to make sure our machines help them create unique coffee moments for their consumers.

What are the newest market trends? Across the Middle East, we see increased demand for milk-based recipes, such as flat whites using local or regional ingredients. Another main trend we recognize among customers, both across B2B and B2C, is an increased awareness in both provenance and sustainability. Nespresso is proud to be a vocal advocate of recycling and is a company that has been making great strides in contributing to sustainability through its Positive Cup' strategy, which seeks to create positive impact for farmers, consumers and society at large, while caring for the environment. All components of the Nespresso portioned capsules, whether the aluminum or the coffee grounds are also infinitely recyclable. These two elements are separated before being processed by local partner Bee’ah, the Middle East’s fastest growing environmental management company. While the aluminum is re-melted using a low energy process, the grounds are used as natural compost to beautify surrounding areas by fertilizing plants and flowers.




COFFEE & TEA is a coffee that boasts subtle flavors and a complex body devoid of any overpowering acidity or bitterness sometimes associated with heat-extracted coffee.


testing the next big thing in response to rising demand for novelty. The trend for experimentation is also enabling retailers to expand their product offerings and involve new consumers at the outset. One example is the steady 25 percent annual growth recorded by Starbucks, which first introduced the cold brew back in 2015, according to a report by the Chicago-based Mintel Group. The same report estimates that 24 percent of consumers currently drink retail-purchased cold brew coffee, with 55 percent of them aged 29-38.

Specialties and extra specialties One of the main reasons for this drink’s popularity is its taste, which is less acidic and also a little sweeter. Buoyed by the success, Starbucks also introduced another, nitrogeninfused coffee. Both of these varieties have a foamy texture, which gives them a smoother taste compared to more traditional options. For consumers who enjoy taking their time with their coffee, Siphon coffee is currently

enjoying a revival. A more sensory option with great visual appeal, this coffee uses a brewing method that has been around since the mid-1800s. Prepared via an elaborate setup, the coffee is supposed to be consumed in a slow fashion, making it popular with more mature audiences. For a visually-appealing experience on par with Siphon, the Chemex system, invented by an American chemist in 1942, is considered a heavy-weight contender in the coffee-bar industry. The brew relies almost entirely on craftsmanship, using the infusion method rather than technology, producing coffee that has a distinctly rich flavor and is sediment free. The cold-drip, which is also trending, represents the most demanding coffee of them all. This variety takes about half a day to process before it’s ready for consumption and requires operators to soak the beans in water for 10 hours beforehand. Well worth the wait, the result

At the top of the chain and favored by connoisseurs is the single-origin coffee. In the same way that fine wines and single malt whiskies have a select fan base, this coffee boasts a higher quality only appreciated by a few, since the difference is not discernable to most palates. However, aficionados will be aware that this coffee, which is sourced from one origin, constitutes the zenith of character and quality, along with a price to match. For these reasons, single-origin coffee is usually sold in specialty shops. On a lighter note, a concept inspired by a mythical creature with a rainbowcolored mane is also proving to be an albeit unlikely industry talking point. The unicorn has proved to be a draw for numerous global brands, prompting them to introduce a broad spectrum of consumables, including hot beverages. The unicorn-food craze is rumored to have been started in Brooklyn by small independent coffee and dessert stores, eventually spreading throughout the world when Starbucks joined the party. The appeal was heightened when millennials swiftly took to the marketing gimmick and elevated it to the level of digital sensation using social media and harnessing its ‘Instagramability’. Eager to capitalize on the concept’s marketability, the F&B industry employed its most gifted artisans to craft a selection of items, each more visually appealing than the last. Materials used have ranged from algae, chocolate sprinkles, lavender and herbs to berries, natural dyes and rose petals. The sometimes potent and often

Supplier spotlight: Barista Espresso

Roy Daniel Managing Partner

Barista Espresso What, in the past year, have been some of the most interesting novelties introduced? During the past year, we at Barista Espresso focused on diversifying our



capsules’ range. The Chocolate Shot was launched: a novelty product that has received the Gulfood Innovation Award, a prestigious accolade that we are proud of. In terms of coffee products, new blends and flavors will be launched during Christmas, so stay tuned.

Iced coffee, which uses heat to extract coffee, has been replaced by this new trend that uses the time factor: soaking beans in water for 12 hours or more to turn water into coffee. The year 2018 will hopefully be the one in which we introduceour own Barista Cold Brew.

What sort of experience are you offering your customers at the point of sale?

What are the changes you expect to see in the global coffee industry?

We will soon open our own Barista Showroom that will include all our products in addition to a Café corner where customers can enjoy a cup of coffee, freshly roasted from our factory.

I believe ready to drink (RTD) coffee will start invading the region very soon. Specialty coffee and coffee shops will keep on growing. To summarize, however you brew it or serve it, consumers are demanding, more than ever, a good, tasty cup of coffee.

What are the newest market trends? According to a Mintel report, cold brew sales have jumped 580 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Supplier spotlight: Ets. Rafic Abi Nasr other factors, such as the shape of the filter, the tamping force on the coffee and the condition of the showerheads.

What are the newest market trends?

Ets. Rafic Abi Nasr What are the newest machines used and how do they add value to the end result? There is no doubt that the VA388 Black Eagle Gravitech from Victoria Arduino is the espresso machine for all those who dedicate their lives to coffee. This machine was chosen as the official machine of the World Barista Championship 2015-2017. The builtin Gravimetric technology guarantees a perfect espresso, allowing the user maximum precision by ensuring total control at all stages of extraction. The barista just has to set the weight of the liquid in the cup for each blend. That means each coffee cup can be made with the same ratio, ensuring a consistent brew. Furthermore, the technology measures the weight of the liquid extracted directly in the cup. The data is therefore much more precise and, more importantly, is not affected by

What are the changes you expect to see throughout the global coffee industry? Clients are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to coffee. They are intrigued by coffee origins, roasting degrees, extraction methods and preparations of coffee cocktails. Eventually, this will create changes throughout the whole supply chain, especially in how coffee is roasted, blended and packed as single origins, delivered and prepared by the barista.,

exciting mix of coffee and alcohol has nano roaster, which immerses the provided those consumers permitted by coffee aficionados in a world unlike any other. The nano roaster adopts a law to drink with wonderfully creative similar approach to the ‘food miles’ options over the years, while recent concept, which focuses on the distance trends have taken pairing to another level. Mixology suddenly boomed as the that specific food has traveled before being offered for consumption. In this drive for novelty gained momentum. instance, coffee roasters put on a show Simultaneously, the opportunity to and invite customers to become part of be both barista and mixologist raised the actual process the bar to a whole to highlight the new level. This As the wave of specialty coffees freshness of their trend, unlike grows, innovation is following, products. others, emerged with companies like Dunkin’ when someone Non-dairy drive somewhere Donuts and Starbucks already For consumers who thought, “Isn’t it like to mix things testing the next big thing bizarre that we up there are plenty can order coffee of choices when it in a bar, but not a cocktail in a coffee comes to selecting the milk they wish shop?” Some of the notable alcoholic to put in their café latte. While soy ingredients that work particularly well milk used to be the preferred choice with coffee are: vodka; rum; hazelnut of health-conscious individuals, the liqueur; bourbon; kahlúa; whiskey; and market has now opened up. The most the old party favorite, tequila.Another popular non-dairy milk alternative today full-sensory experience proving popular is almond milk, which is also used in cooking and baking. With a creamy that falls under the umbrella of mixing, texture, almond milk has a sweet taste matching and pairing is the in-house

INTHRA HOTELS & RESTAURANT SUPPLIES Badaro main str | Al Khatib bldg 1st Floor P.O.Box 16 6065 | Beirut, Lebanon Tel +961 1 395 595 |


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Firas Abi Nasr General Manager

According to USA’s National Coffee Association 2017 National Coffee Drinking Trends, the consumption of decaf coffee has risen from 0.19 cups per day to 0.39 cups per day, the biggest percentage increase of any category, which is mostly driven by 1824 year-olds at 19 percent. This is mainly due to the fact that younger consumers consider the act of getting coffee as an occasion, a gathering, a business meeting and more. Therefore, and to moderate their caffeine intake, decaffeinated coffee has become a likely choice. Many years ago, we introduced a decaffeinated version of cafe Abi Nasr, which you can find in most supermarkets and the Prestigio espresso decaffeinated line is available in many hotels and restaurants.




and also contains vitamin E, as well as other essential nutrients. Competing in that same category is coconut milk, which has the major advantage of being suitable for consumers suffering from gluten, soy or dairy allergies. This milk is also creamy and is considered ideal for cooking and baking. It is, however, higher in fat content. A third alternative, rice milk is viewed by many as the most hypoallergenic of all milk products. This product has the least amount of fat and is cholesterol-free, but is high in starch and low in proteins. While most consumers rarely, if ever, take the type of water used to make their coffee into consideration, experts will tell you that this element can have a significant effect on the rest of the preparation process. Aside from the various levels of minerals found in different waters, the selection made also has an effect on the longevity of the coffee machine itself. The importance of choosing the right water in coffeemaking was raised during the 2016 World Barista Championship and has remained a topic of debate in the industry ever since. Many consumers and retail shops are already using purified/filtered water in their coffees, while others are promoting sparking water in the hope of appealing to those looking for something a little different.

Turning to tea This 5000-year-old discovery is hotter today than ever, with the biggest name in tea right now undoubtedly ‘Quickly’. Appropriately, the franchise, which is the largest milk-tea concept in the world, happens to be Taiwanese, the birthplace of this product. Dating back to the 1980s, the brand offers more than 250 flavors and has grown to become a global sensation. Its original recipe

Sand Coffee Brewer Taking an age-old tradition and bringing it to new life, chef Samaan Hilal has designed a bespoke machine to brew Turkish coffee for Jnaynet La Crêperie restaurant in Jounieh, Lebanon.

consisted of a black tea, tapioca pearls, a starch extracted from the cassava root, condensed milk, and syrup or honey. This type of product has proven to be a draw for the Arab world, buoyed by the region’s long-held tradition of tea consumption. According to a Khaleej Times article, tea imports are expected to rise in the Middle East over the next decade. The region currently stands second globally for black tea consumption, behind the Far East. With the aim of capitalizing on a highly lucrative industry and the current boom, a wave of local and international tea stores are opening throughout the country. The popular culture has also seen bubble tea gaining tremendous traction, with the first dedicated

concept store opening at the end of 2012 in Dubai, offering hundreds of combinations based on three different types of tea mixed with milk, yoghurt or juice. The other tea popular in the Arab world and India is Karak. This beverage contains black tea, milk, sugar and green cardamom, mixed with either ginger, cinnamon, saffron or peppercorn. While somewhat heavy, this Arabian version of the native Indian masala chai, Karak is full of nutrients and vitamins. Fans have cited its effectiveness in helping with ailments that range from nausea and bloating to heartburn. The four ingredients also combine to produce a beverage that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Supplier spotlight: Café Younes

Amin Younes Managing Partner

Café Younes What sort of experience are you offering your customers at the point of sale? Café Younes is first and foremost a specialty coffee roaster since 1935.



Today, after more than 80 years and three generations, we remain committed to our original heritage of quality and customer service. Genuinely embracing modernity throughout its history, Café Younes is about authenticity, not nostalgia. To keep pace with the expansion plan, while maintaining the products’ quality and building on the coffee experience, we intend to bring the roasting experience to every single one of our outlets. By integrating the roasting experience into the café experience, Café Younes will immerse its customers in a unique concept. Aside from sourcing the best coffee bean possible, we also make sure to communicate to our customers its sourcing journey; how it's farmed, picked, tended, dried and shipped.

What are the newest market trends? ‘Forth-Wave’ boutique coffee roasters are spreading globally, with some even showing fanatical levels of obsession when it comes to their coffee. Personally, I find a good dose of obsession combined with passion, healthy for the industry. Accordingly, Café Younes has recently piloted a new business model by developing a ‘live’ micro coffeeroasting outlet. It is a unique and highly scalable concept, integrating the roasting journey with the café experience, where guests will have a front row seat to the brewing experience. This new model is a unique selling proposition in the coffee industry that would clearly differentiate us from the competition.

Supplier spotlight: The Roaster What are the changes you expect to see throughout the coffee industry?

Gilbert Najjar GM

The Roaster sal What, in the past year, have been some of the most interesting novelties introduced? If you are one of those people who cannot decide between tea or coffee, you are in luck. Coffee – Tea, as it is referred to, is drying the coffee cherry husk and mixing it with tea blends. Sales of coffee-infused teas increased throughout 2016 and are expected to gain more traction in 2017. Manufacturers are creating some interesting and delicious blends including Ethiopian coffee mixed with organic Moroccan mint tea and green tea mixed with French roast coffee.

Overall, as shoppers prioritize experience over price, consumption of gourmet and specialty coffee beverages is on the rise. Even for brands that have not traditionally operated in the specialty space, opening up a luxury line could pay off in 2017. Increased interest in the cold brew industry is further fragmenting the sector into subcategories and introducing consumers to innovations that have yet to enter the coffee category. In addition, a growing awareness among consumers has led coffee companies to improve the quality of organic coffee, fair trade coffee and specialized coffee brewing techniques. More nitro coffee products will be available in 2017, which have a smooth and creamy taste similar to craft beer. The coffee is stored in a keg at high pressure or bottled. Manufacturers are expected to jump into this trend in 2017 and we will see many more nitro cold brew coffees in stores, with coffee shops and offices offering these coffees on tap.





Supplier spotlight: Cafés Richard What are the newest machines used and how do these add value to the end result?

Branislav Beronja Brand Manager and Trainer – MEA Judge for the HORECA Lebanese Barista Competition

Cafés Richard What, in the past year, have been some of the most interesting novelties introduced? Beside fair trade, there are an increasing amount of coffee with more specific labels, which directly incentivize and guarantee traceability of their origins. One of them is our grand cru Sumatra ‘OranGutan’.

When Italian espresso brand, Victoria Arduino, launched a coffee machine integrating something called Gravitech technology, the user gained the ability to get accurate readings related to their coffee extraction process. Yet, most importantly, consistency with every cup was now guaranteed.

What are the newest market trends? ‘Slow Coffee’ is using different filtration methods to extract hot or cold brews. The added value is a kind of sensory experience throughout the preparation ‘ceremony'.

What are the changes you expect to see throughout the coffee industry? Coffee has always been compared to wine or tea. Therefore, I would like a variety of coffee to offered as opposed to serving a black liquid, of unknown origin, in a cup.








ESPRESSO WARS Although Lebanese coffee remains king in Lebanon, the industry’s players have diversified their offerings in the last 20 years by introducing the emblematic espresso shot in a bid to increase their brand visibility, boost profit margins and adapt to a fast-changing society. Nagi Morkos, managing partner of Hodema consulting services, elaborates Lebanon’s coffee market is valued at more than USD 220 million, divided between producers and roasters. With an annual consumption of 5.8 kg of coffee per capita, Lebanon ranks among the world’s top 20 importers, according to the International Coffee Organization, making it a lucrative and globally indispensable market. “More than 70 percent of the coffee is consumed the Lebanese way,” explained Roy Daniel, CEO of Barista, sister company of Café Daniel. Apart from instant coffee, which is entirely imported, production is divided between espresso (20 percent) and filtered coffee (10 percent). In 2015, revenues generated by Lebanese coffee alone reached USD 130 million. Despite the fact that 100 roasters are in operation, the local market is dominated by just a handful of industry players, who collectively hold 80 percent of business. The manufacturing process remains the same for all producers, with the green beans usually arriving through Beirut’s harbor, primarily from Brazil, but also from Colombia, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Indonesia, before they are sent to the roasting plants. They are then grounded, packed and



distributed or re-exported. “The Lebanese retail coffee market consumes about 10,000 tons annually, valued at USD 90 million,” Nadim Dahan, managing director of Café Super Brasil said. “You also need to factor in the amount of sales, unaccounted for, made by the country’s small local shops who offer little, if any, data in that regard.”

A USD 10 million espresso cup According to Georges Najjar, president of Najjar SAL, “The target audience of the local coffee market is the adult consumer, not young workers who have developed other habits.” Dahan added that Café Super Brasil’s customers were used to consuming coffee the Lebanese way, which, from a processing point of view, was “quite demanding” as it required significant time to prepare. “Today, however, society is evolving and everything is becoming more instant, with consumers wanting things immediately,” he acknowledged. The espresso bean has taken root in Lebanon, in line with global trends, since the end of the 1990s, and continued to gain widespread popularity. From Café Najjar, Super Brasil and Abi Nasr to Café Daniel, local roasters have dedicated a part of their production to the espresso and created their own label. Accordingly, they have equipped themselves with specific machinery, capable of transforming the green coffee bean into grain, pods and capsules. Meanwhile, international firms, such as Nespresso, Lavazza, Illy and Kimbo, have also imported their products into Lebanon, mainly through F&B and local hospitality distribution companies. According to some of the industry’s players, the espresso market in 2015 was valued at USD 10 million. “With a kilo worth around USD 40, margins are three times higher than with Lebanese coffees,” noted Nizar Lababki, former HORECA head for Café Najjar. Since its launch in 1986, Nespresso has taken great strides and revolutionized the coffee industry. In Lebanon, the operating unit of the Swiss company, which is part of the Nestlé Group, assigned the Dima Group to handle its business in the year 2000. According to our 2015 estimates, it achieved a USD 4.2million in turnover, selling 6 million capsules. “It is hard to compete with Nespresso, which has its niche and a flawless marketing strategy,” Walid Hachem, distributer of the Italian brand Kimbo in Lebanon, said. The Italian company’s revenue stands at USD 1 million. “But, now that they have lost patents on some of their machines, many companies have launched their own Nespressocompatible pods on the market,” he added. “This can entice consumers to look for a cheaper option like ours, which is 30-40 percent less expensive.”

Let’s take the shot outside While traditional Lebanese coffee remains associated with family gatherings and cozy living rooms, the espresso shot has established itself as the most common brew requested in public. When it comes to Lebanon, the beverage is mainly consumed in hotels, restaurants, offices, shops and banks. This trend makes it easier for the brands to reach a large audience and promote themselves. Some use their espresso offering to sell additional products, such as alcohol and varieties of nuts. To gain market share, local producers and importers have also developed different ordering systems, with some, such as Nespresso and Illy, even opening their own shops. They have also started selling a large number of espresso machines. “Most of our sales come from machines we supply on a consignment basis,” explained Daniel. “You run an office, we loan you a machine and in exchange you commit to drinking a certain amount of coffee each month. It requires a significant investment, since you have to take into account the purchase of the machines and a rigorous maintenance and after-sales service fee.” He added that his company employed more people for maintenance than for sales. Simultaneously, the industry is still targeting households, which is Nespresso pod system’s main market. “Capsules and pods help us enter homes where Lebanese coffee still has the upper hand,” said Daniel who, through his Barista brand, sells Nespresso-compatible products. “These products meet today’s fast-paced society. They are available in supermarkets and require very little preparation.” Hachem acknowledged that making an espresso at home necessitated a small investment for a machine. “You can find one for about USD 100, which may not be affordable

A USD 80 million instant coffee market Nescafe, for Lebanon, is what Scotch is to adhesive tape or Nutella to chocolate spread, becoming synonymous with instant coffee. “Three-quarters of the market belongs to Nescafe,” Dahan calculated. “All of it is imported because of the complicated manufacturing process.” In 2015, the instant coffee market was valued at USD 80 million. Between July 2015 and August 2016, about 73 percent of instant coffee consumed locally was made by Nestlé. However, local roasters remain undeterred. One such example is Café Super Brazil, which imports its instant coffee and distributes it through its brand, Lio.

for all, but it tends to become cheaper with more competitive pricing,” he noted. The espresso trend has gained momentum over the last 10 years, with production on the rise for local roasters and higher imports for distributors. However, industry players dismiss the idea that espresso will eclipse demand for traditional Lebanese coffee. “Demand for espresso is growing and new players are trying to enter the market every year,” Firas Abi Nasr, managing director of the Abi Nasr group acknowledged. “We have managed to earn a reputation thanks to espresso. But Lebanese people also like the tradition associated with drinking Lebanese coffee, which has, over many generations, become part of our society’s DNA. Trying the espresso doesn’t mean you’ll love it!”

Prestigio Espresso Machine – Special Edition Prestigio Espresso Machine is an Italian, built-to-last espresso machine. A special edition line is currently available in the market in limited quantity. Models Available: GOCCE – LAS VEGAS – PACE – RACING – ARANCIA. ETS. RAFIC ABI NASR & SMART LOGISTICS SAL





FUELING COFFEE & TEA INDUSTRY’S GROWTH The same Apex-Brasil study shows that the local hot drinks market will be worth USD 1.01 billion in 2019, up from USD 774.5 million in 2015.

While drinking coffee has long been a tradition in many Arab countries, tea consumption has also finally penetrated the regional market, boosted by the influx of tea-loving expatriates who swear by its numerous health benefits. Neha Mistry, project manager of International Conferences and Exhibitions (IC&E) and Dubai International Coffee & Tea Festival, explains The UAE lies at the center of a vibrant coffee and tea industry in the Middle East. Aside from its high level of consumption, the emirates also serves as a re-export hub for hot drinks, including coffee and tea, along with other, similar beverages. According to a report released by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), the country exported coffee and tea worth USD 368.7 million in 2015, 42.7 percent of which went to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and other key international markets. While coffee still accounts for a bigger chunk of the UAE’s total hot beverage sales, tea and other powder-based hot drinks have been steadily catching up over the year, the report further notes.



Additionally, industry experts are confident that the UAE’s coffee market alone will experience more than 30 percent growth over the next four years, due to a continuous upsurge in demand. Zagat, the F&B online resource, has calculated that more than 4000 tea and coffee houses are now operating in the country, serving 82 percent of the population who admit to drinking coffee daily.

New tastes and demands Young consumers with high disposable income in the UAE are the main market influencers and growth drivers, prompting companies to offer new flavors and ingredients with a modern twist to satiate this key segment’s tastes and demands. Specialty coffees, such as organic varieties, as well as teas known for their health benefits, are fast gaining ground in the region, supported by growing numbers of consumers who are now looking for healthy food and beverage choices and alternatives. Apex-Brasil says it is for this reason that beverages such as fruit tea, Italian coffee and hot drinks with added vitamins and minerals will remain a draw for consumers. The Tea Company’s new brand of loose leaf tea is another example of a healthier alternative beverage, as is the Cold Brew Green Tea. Both have no artificial flavors or chemicals. Cold Brew Green Tea is stored in a refrigerator to bring out its sweet and smooth taste. Cold-brewing is also seen as environmentally friendly, since it eliminates the water heating process, thereby

promoting energy conservation. Other varieties of drinks that are becoming more popular among bolder coffee and tea lovers include the specialized nitro coffee beverages, which are perfected by adding nitrogen to cold brew coffee; coffee-infused teas, which are created by drying the coffee cherry husk and mixing it with tea blends; and the healthy mushroom coffee drinks, which are prepared by adding mushrooms to the blend. With the mushroom flavor hardly noticeable, the latter is not only nutritious but also calming, eliminating the risk of coffee jitters.

A focus on health Healthy alternatives are just one of several influential trends that are reshaping the regional market. Aside from a sharper focus on these beverages, the regional market has also taken a keen interest in sustainability initiatives. Take, for instance, Dubai, where efforts are being deployed to reduce waste and raise environmental consciousness among citizens and residents. As an example, coffee shop owners, in line with Dubai Municipality’s directives, are encouraging patrons to bring their own mugs or cups when ordering their favorite drinks, in a bid to help reduce the use of disposable cups across cafes. Many outlets across the UAE are following suit, as part of their initiatives to become responsible corporate citizens of the nation. Other regional market trends include home roasting and sourcing of green beans from China.



TEA SOMMELIERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST Despite the fact that tea is firmly entrenched in Middle Eastern culture, questions have been asked about the beverage’s current status and its future in the drink segment. Anfal Fekri, founder of Silver Tea Leaf Consultancy (STL), the first regional establishment of its kind to help elevate the standards of tea in the hospitality sector, sheds light Long an essential part of Middle-Eastern culture, tea is the second-mostconsumed beverage after water. Black and green teas are favored regional varieties, with the most common additions being milk, sugar, mint and spices. Even with new trends, like the introduction of ice-tea, flavored and blends of teas, alongside ‘karak’ (tea with milk), the preparation of traditional teas continues to flourish today. Silver Tea Leaf has been collecting and analyzing data relating to the overall perception and consumption of tea since



2013, while also exploring the topic of whether tea sommeliers could emerge in the region to help innovate in the hospitality industry.

Tea consumer: research and analysis At the start of our research journey, we had a few areas that we were keen to cover, led by consumers’ norms and behaviors around tea and their taste and palate expectations. We were able to survey a sizeable quota of respondents in Bahrain, with the aim of understanding a variety of behaviors and norms around tea. These were the results: 1. 40 percent of respondents take their tea in the morning, while 24 percent drink it in the afternoon on a daily basis. The remaining 36 percent like to have tea on different occasions and at alternative timings. 2. The majority (81.6 percent) of people purchase their tea from supermarkets, while the remainder prefer to obtain it from different sources, either online shops, hotels and restaurants, or while abroad during their travels. 3. The top three decisive factors for

purchasing tea are: quality (57.9 percent); flavors available (15.8 percent); and price of the product (7.9 percent). The remaining criteria were distributed proportionally on: packaging design, decaffeinated options, organic and fairtrade brands. 4. The top additions to tea are: milk, sugar, mint and spices. STL also undertook a palate evaluation during its workshops and events in which it looked at tea’s role at various occasions and different aspects of taste and palate. As part of the evaluation, consumers were divided into three groups to test and taste a variety of products and share their experiences. The first cohort of respondents was asked to taste two samples of one type of tea, with one test cup prepared in the correct way and the other over-steeped. In a separate evaluation, the second group tasted five varieties of tea, while wearing blindfolds. Meanwhile, in the third test, tasters sampled tea paired with a variety of flavored chocolates and were asked to compare the taste of the chocolate before and after consuming their tea.



From the first batch of tasters, just 37 percent of tasters preferred the tea that was perfectly steeped, taking time to appreciate its taste and mouth-feel, while 63 percent liked the second sample, even though the tea was over steeped and very bitter and dry. These reactions suggested that the tasters had certain preconditioned expectations about the tea and judged it on the intensity of the bitter flavors and the color of the cup. Members of the second, blindfolded cohort conducted a tasting experiment in which they were asked to describe the taste and mouth-feel of perfectly steeped tea. From the group, 76 percent were able to identify and appreciate the differences in tea sampled, having had the advantage of a heightened sense of taste and smell, thanks to the blindfolds. The third testers were given three varieties of chocolate, each paired with a different type of tea. Over 80 percent of participants noticed the difference in taste and texture of the chocolate before and after consuming their tea. Many of them said they were astonished by the results.

The time is ripe for the Middle-Eastern hospitality sector to consider how it can kickstart the effective sharing of knowledge and expertise related to tea The evaluations revealed several insightful results. In the first tasting, the outcome indicated that knowledge and education levels among consumers around tea remain at a very basic, with samples judged favorably solely on the intensity of color and strength of bitterness. However, the second and third cohorts showed themselves able to step outside of their comfort zone and enjoy tea prepared and steeped in the correct manner, while simultaneously discovering new tastes and flavors in other food that suits being paired with tea.

Tea sommelier: a key component in the Middle-Eastern hospitality sector’s future STL has also been evaluating the overall operations and educational aspect of tea in the hospitality and restaurant sector. Throughout our research and observation, we have noticed the need across the sector for a strong presence of professional and well-trained tea sommeliers and tea stewards who understand every aspect of the drink, what’s involved in managing and running a tea lounge and, most importantly, the palate of demanding customers.



We also concluded that while consumers in this region demand diversity and innovation in the food and beverage products and services offered by the hospitality sector, they still want authenticity and tradition when it comes to the various methods of tea preparation across the range of MiddleEastern countries. The role of the tea sommelier is to provide the most suitable choice for the consumer and also recommend pairing options for a dish or tea. The role of the tea steward is another crucial one, requiring an understanding of the types of tea and the ability to differentiate between caffeinated and non-caffeinated teas in order to best

serve the consumer. The steward is also responsible for preparing and steeping tea at the right temperature and for the correct amount of time. The time is ripe for the Middle-Eastern hospitality sector to consider how it can kick-start the effective sharing of knowledge and expertise related to tea as a means of driving the segment forward. In scenarios where consumers demand more alternatives and options for consumption, hotels and restaurants should consider recruiting additional tea sommeliers and stewards. Hospitality schools should also play their part by providing a comprehensive education around tea preparation and serving.



THE COFFEE SHOP Top commercial grade products and equipment selected by HN

Victoria Arduino - VA388 Black Eagle Gravitech The built-in Gravimetric technology guarantees a perfect espresso and allows the user maximum precision by ensuring total control at all stages of extraction. The barista simply has to set the weight of the liquid in the cup for each blend. This means each coffee cup can be made with the same ratio, ensuring a consistent brew. Furthermore, the technology measures the weight of the liquid extracted directly in the cup. ETS. RAFIC ABI NASR & SMART LOGISTICS SAL,

Honduras (Pure Arabica_Organic & Fairtrade) This unique cru, grown by small producers, creates a round and ample coffee with refined aromas. It has a bright acidity with fruity notes of mirabelle plum and raisins.

Maroun Tawk Training Manager

Automatic Brewers

Nespresso Professional Barista Machine, The Aguila 220 With a smaller footprint and the same pioneering technology as the Nespresso Aguila 420 first launched in 2011, the Aguila 220 is designed to meet the needs of all premium large HORECA establishments, such as hotels, restaurants, cafés and bakeries. It also proposes an unmatched choice of onetouch gourmet recipes for extraordinary coffee quality and exceptional coffee moments. NESTLÉ NESPRESSO SA


Electronic Ottima Espresso Machine

Prontissimo by Lavazza Prontissimo! is an extraordinary glutenfree medium-roasted, smooth and wellbalanced 100 percent Arabica instant coffee blend. G.VINCENTI & SONS S.A.L



The Ottima commercial electronic espresso machine can cope with nonstop coffee production, using boiler heatexchangers to minimize any thermal effect on the coffee machine. The machine is available in groups of two or three and in standard or tall models, with an 18cm group clearance for tall cups. ARMOBEL

The Japanese-styled iced brewed coffee dripper tower is popping up in coffee shops. However you can also use it at home and enjoy the same coffee quality. These brewers are grabbing our attention in coffee shops because they are made from mouth-blown glass and handmade wood. Guests can enjoy the process while having a coffee drink, complete with a curly tube section, through which the brewed coffee slowly drips down and finally falls into the carafe. The process can take anything from three to 11 hours, depending on the concentration needed and coffee grind to complete a full batch. Freshly roasted coffee is a must to enjoy a fairly mellow concentrated cup of coffee, muted acids and a nice rounded body taste. Ice water has a different extraction process than hot water, producing a low acidic coffee taste. This is because some elements are much more resistant to extraction with cold water than they are with hot. Using a 1.5 second per drip ratio (40 drips per minute) makes for a good starting point. Bear in mind that drip speed can fluctuate depending on the coffee and grind. The resulting brew is close to room temperature, so you need to put the carafe in the fridge before serving.

Hario's Cold Water Coffee Dripper




Granarolo Frozen Mozzarella Mozzarella Granarolo for cooking has a soft texture and a slightly milky taste, which makes it the number one choice for every authentic Italian pizza recipe.

Benina Kashkaval

Invest in the right products and equipment to make cooking easier. Here’s a good place to start

Frozen Pasteurized Egg White

Made from 100% sheep’s milk aged for one year, Benina Kashkaval offers an exceptional taste within its category.

Available in both wholesale and domestic quantities and in different packing sizes; free from added salt, preservatives, additives, colors and flavors, but can be customized, according to clients’ requirements.



Monells High quality gluten-free, meat-processed products made in Spain. SOCIETÉ JABRA


APS Snack Holder Baskets Meia Duzia Freshly The delicious range encompasses hearty peanut butter, tasty chocolate spread and honey. ORIENT PROVISION AND TRADING Co. LTD

Bauscher An open range, packed with exciting pieces and accessories, collected from every corner of the world, which can be exclusively designed and realized. EASTERN IMPORT ME, S.A.L


From Portugal, Meia Duzia brings with it a delightful range of more than 40 flavors of honey, tea, chocolate and jam. ALB CO SARL,

Valor Valor sugar-free chocolate bars made with the best cocoa beans in the world and with Stevia, a natural sweetener, allow you to enjoy a true gourmet treat with zero guilt.

Eye-catching snack holder baskets. Stainless steel, new color, gold look. MG HOTEL SUPPLIES


Pomati T5 The easiest and smallest desktop semi-commercial chocolate tempering machine in continuous mode, tempers chocolate in 10 minutes. VRESSO S.A.L.


SpaceCombi with Magic Hood Ser Gas The RP2 Gas Pizza Oven with rotating ceramic deck, curved glass frames and internal lighting offers direct visual checking of baking procedures. ARMOBEL

The MKN SpaceCombi with Magic Hood is the ideal professional solution for those with restricted space and fresh air, as well as pleasant room climate requirements. MKN MASCHINENFABRIK KURT NEUBAUER GMBH & CO. KG





A 30-person office consumes on average 83 cups of coffee per day. World coffee exports recorded significant growth this year, reaching 9.38 million bags in July 2017, compared to 8.45 million bags back in July 2016.


Worldwide, more than 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed per day, with the UAE recording the top rising market by volume in the world. The country’s coffee market is projected to grow by 34 percent in the next five years with a whopping 6 percent YoY growth. More than 4200 tea and coffee houses are now operating in the country. The UAE consumes twice as much coffee as other GCC states, more than 80 percent of its residents have coffee on a daily basis.


With around 320 outlets in its portfolio, HB Brands and Coffee Planet, a Dubai-based specialty Arabica coffee roaster signed a 10-year franchise agreement to open 70 outlets in KSA. Brand expansion territory include Qatar, Pakistan and Malaysia in the near future.


Coffee consumption in the Middle East region has tripled over the last decade.The Middle Easterns have always been coffee fans, however the region is now witnessing a thirst for brew specialty. This will drive suppliers and providers to change their approach to be in line with the growing demand for more refined products. 1 October #InternationalCoffeeDay

The Middle East and Africa are set to record the fastest growing coffee consumption worldwide through 2019 in terms of retail brewed volume, and the second fastest in terms of retail value, increasing by an absolute total of USD 1.5 billion in retail sales.

Between 2006 and 2016, Specialty coffee beverage consumption climbed in the region: From 11% to 37% among 18-24 year olds, and from 14% to 42% for the 25-39 age bracket

Blending Traditions Infographics by





EMF TRADING LTD - BARRY CALLEBAUT Callebaut & Cacao Barry’s 'single origin chocolates' prepared from cocoa mass with cocoa beans from a single geographical area, country or plantation. Salon Du Chocolat Beirut sponsored by EMF - CALLEBAUT

When it comes to the chocolate industry, the tastes and flavors available today have exceeded some of our wildest expectations. What follows are four interviews conducted by HN with regional and international players offering their take on an industry that is as sweet as it is bitter

What are the major challenges you are facing? Challenges are what feed the business mind by pushing it to go beyond just achieving a certain target. The general challenge we constantly face is not only to maintain our leadership in the chocolate business, but to properly maintain the services we extend to our customers and partners, while constantly investing in research and development (R&D). EMF and Barry Callebaut tackle this challenge with constant investments in product developments through technical support, chocolate academies and training centers. This also allowed the creation of various specialty chocolates to meet the increasing demand for ‘healthier’ products, such as chocolates ‘with no-sugar-added’, ‘rich in anti-oxidant and good for blood vessels’, ‘lactose free’, ‘tooth friendly’ and others.

What are the current top trending themes in chocolate?

Maurice E. Feghali CEO

EMF Trading Ltd – Middle East Coordination for Barry Callebaut Do you employ brand ambassadors to promote your offerings? We have brand ambassadors for each product line, whose mission is to transfer their chocolate knowhow and techniques to other craftsmen in order to support the development of new products, concepts, packaging, recipes and training workshops. Their responsibilities also include ensuring quality, creativity, knowledge of ingredients and process leadership. Chocolate technology, chocolate bonbons, entremets, desserts by the plate, sculptures and decorations are some examples of what they are able to perform.



Consumers nowadays want unique, authentic flavors for a matchless experience. This is where, for instance, the concept of Callebaut and Cacao Barry’s ‘single origin chocolates’ comes into play, which is very much in vogue. These chocolates are prepared from cocoa mass with cocoa beans from a single geographical area, country or even plantation, while all traditional chocolates are blends. Additionally, chefs are leaning toward setting themselves apart through their products and personalized recipes by using unconventionally exotic and local flavors in their chocolates, such as passion fruit, raspberries, cream cheese, tiramisu, pepper, chili, karawiya, ousmalliya and others.

In terms of future diversification, what do your plans include? Our tactic is to use the recession and political instability as a tool for expansion by being more active, creative, risk-takers and more aggressive than the competition.

Considering the political instability in the majority of the 16 countries we operate in, the only way to survive and grow is through diversification by targeting different market segments and expanding our operations in the region.

What would you say are your key strengths and how are you playing to those? When it comes to the Middle East, our philosophy is to invest in time, resources, manpower, international networking and knowledge of the market in order to skillfully supply and recommend the right product to the right customers. Innovation, specialized technical assistance, dedicated training, certified man-power and training centers are some of the many services available at our disposal. After all, success comes from education, dedication and delegation.

What is currently in season and what is in vogue? Chocolate professionals are getting inspired by their trips to Asia. They try to include strong Asian flavors that are mostly sour, like Matcha green tea, Miso and Wasabi in their truffles and bonbons, using caramel to make everything go well together. Turmeric is taking over chocolate laboratories and kitchens. Given its beneficial properties, it is a favored spice among health-oriented brands. It pairs incredibly well with dark chocolate, sometimes giving it a yellow color, depending on the quantity used. Although cardamom isn’t new to the chocolate scene, it’s popular in both dark and white chocolate applications. This herb has a very distinctive flavor that sharply divides consumers into lovers and haters. Figs are a sweet fruit that intuitively pairs well with chocolate and black figs seem to be the variety currently preferred by many chefs.

HORECA 15 - 17 JANUARY 2018


11:00am - 8:30pm

Kuwait International Fair - Hall No. 8


FOR THE HOSPITALITY AND FOOD INDUSTRIES AN EVENT BY Kuwait City, Murqab, Omar Bin Al Khatab St, Shayma’a Tower, 6 th Floor

P.O. Box : 22194 Safat 13082 Kuwait, Tel : (+965) 22253803 / 4 - Fax : (+965) 22253805





Alioune Diop Area Manager - GCC Countries & Maldives

Valrhona Do you employ brand ambassadors to promote your offerings? Valrhona is a chocolate brand available for all chocolate lovers and gastronomy professionals. In order to imagine the best in the transmission of flavor and expertise, our four schools in Tain l'Hermitage, Paris, Tokyo and New York are welcoming every year Écoles Valrhona over 15,000 professionals across the world. Our 30 pastry chefs are supporting our clients on a daily basis in our individual and group technical consultancy, as well as in our overarching approach that aims to constantly encourage professionals’ creativity. We are also honored to welcome exclusive guest chefs from all over the world to share their knowledge and bring their own personal techniques and unique twists to specific classes. L’École Valrhona helps our partners to develop their identity thanks to targeted classes that are adapted to all areas of expertise, including chocolate, pastry, baking, ice cream and plated desserts.

What are the major challenges you are facing? We are now an international company, making it necessary for us to adapt to local specificities. Our launches need to take into account each culture and taste. We are going global, but need to act locally for our brand image and recognition. We are also facing some challenges in certain countries when it comes to product registration.

What are the current top trending themes in chocolate?



It is said that people in the Middle East like milk chocolate. According to our findings, that is not entirely true and tastes are primarily country centric. In the UAE, for example, our bestseller is a dark chocolate (Guanaja 70%, created in 1986). Local people travel a lot and they become increasingly educated in term of taste. They know what they are eating and have higher expectations, which is good for the industry, but challenging for the chefs. To accommodate this broad range of tastes, Valrhona launched, in January, a new innovation, rather than a traditional line, called INSPIRATION, which is fruit based, allowing the chefs to think about pastry differently. In September, strawberry inspiration will follow, then passion fruit, all of which have been made to enhance the ways we can use fruit in chocolate, pastries and ice creams. The INSPIRATION range will give chefs the pure, natural flavor of fruits, combined with the unique texture of chocolate.

In terms of future diversification, what do your plans include? Valrhona has a presence in more than 70 countries. At Valrhona, we are confident in our ability to face tomorrow’s challenges, which is why we are implementing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan called ‘Live Long’, aimed at building a sustainable business model, promoting gastronomy professions, halving our environmental impact by 2025 and working closer with the cocoaproducing communities.

What would you say are your key strengths? Valrhona aims to improve the world of gastronomy. Our strengths are our capacity

VALRHONA - INSPIRATION In September strawberry inspiration will follow then passion fruit, all of which have been made to enhance the ways we can use fruit in chocolate, pastries and ice creams. The INSPIRATION range will give chefs the pure natural flavor of fruits combined with the unique texture of chocolate.

for innovation, which runs in parallel with our expertise throughout the whole cocoa value chain. We are planters, sourcers, producers and creators. Our sourcers travel the globe in search of the finest cocoa beans, which will allow us to make exceptional chocolate. We build long-term partnerships with farmers. In 2013, we cemented our commitment to a sustainable supply chain by rolling out our Buyer Code of Conduct and our Sustainable Purchasing Charter. We want to make the best chocolate in the best way possible.

What is currently in season and what is in vogue? The chefs will soon start thinking about their creations for Christmas. In turn, we will present them with our new range of chocolate, as well as our decoration range. Chefs love to sign their creations, they also love to add an extra design that will make their creation unique. Valrhona Signature is a decoration offer, which allows them to customize their desserts.



develop and produce exceptional chocolates, which excel and exceed expectations.

Mohamad Hashwi CEO

BANO Trading Do you employ brand ambassadors to promote your offerings? Bano, as a whole, is the brand ambassador of all its products. It plays diverse roles in marketing, sales, technical demonstration and customer service to deliver a seamless brand image.

What are the major challenges you are facing? Without existing challenges to tackle, the market will remain stagnant. However, our major challenge has always been to compete through offering the highest quality products and the price range to match, because we believe that we deliver no less than excellence in all categories.

What are the current top trendingthemes in chocolate? The chocolate industry is a diverse one based on the cocoa bean, so trends are introduced by chocolate lovers who indulge themselves in the different chocolate flavors that best suit their tastes. The real Belgian chocolate called Belcolade, which is the only chocolate still owned by the Belgians, continues to



In Europe, the dominant trend that has been making the rounds for the past couple of years is the Belcolade ‘Origin’. It comes in dark, milk and white chocolate versions, each of which has a very distinct flavor based on the country it was originally sourced from. These include Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela and Congo. However, the Arab world has not yet reached that level of maturity, as our society tends to stick more to the classic selection of cocoa-based chocolates. In our region, however, the trend in chocolate has become a representation of 'Chocolat au Patisserie', having the flavors that are known in pastry to be created as fillings for chocolate; flavors such as, brownies, crème brulee, salted butter caramel, baklava, speculoos, etc…

In terms of future diversification, what do your plans include? The sky is the limit as creation and innovation never stop, nor does the learning process.

What would you say are your key strengths and how are you playing to those? Bano’s role relies on the constant search for the best ingredients and equipment to elevate the local and regional markets. Our perseverance and confidence in this industry are key to our strength and success.

BANO TRADING - BELCOLADE In Europe, the dominant trend that has been making the rounds for the past couple of years is the Belcolade ‘Origin’. It comes in dark, milk and white chocolate versions each of which has a very distinct flavor based on the country it was originally sourced from.

What is currently in season and what is in vogue? In the food sector, there are always new and changing market trends which depend on the changing needs of the consumers. And what's in season is 'clean label' products with no artificial preservatives or colors or additives, giving customers high quality natural products. In chocolate, the 'real' chocolate including no preservatives or hydrogenated fats. Also, the malt chocolate, containing containing 'maltitol' replacing sugar. One of the major trends Bano has launched is the sourdough bread mixes and flavors, which produces signature breads and mouth-watering crusts that consumers love.

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16 – 18






What are the current top trending themes in chocolate?

Bilal Ballout CEO

BMB What are the major challenges you are facing and how are you going about overcoming these? The challenges today come in many different waves. In the past, you could split the demand between clients who were cost conscious and clients who were quality conscious. In today’s environment, chefs are rightfully requesting the correct formula between a customized recipe which is of a high standard and a low price point. To achieve this, it’s no longer possible to purchase commodities from one source because everything, from weather conditions to the political environment, can affect supply and prices. The advantage of Benoit is that the same recipe is sourced from various reliable suppliers around the world to ensure we always achieve stability on both levels. The most important aspect of what Benoit offers is flexibility; the option to customize your chocolate recipe or fillings or cake decorations and in small quantities. This, we believe, is the way forward in today’s economy.



One of the key innovations we have recently launched is personalized chocolate decorations to be used on cakes and pralines. Through the technology we have implemented in one of our plants, we are able to offer clients a customized, engraved logo on chocolate in an efficient way that has never been done before. Since customization is what every business is looking for today, we believe this will be a big hit throughout the region. We have also developed and launched a new range of innovative chocolate fillings, such as ‘Riz b Haleeb’ and ‘Mistika’. These have been very well received in the market and the range is continuously evolving, even though it has an age-old sense of flavor and familiarity.

In terms of future diversification, what do your plans include? The brand is already present through partners in the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait, Spain and Canada. However, our main growth strategy is based on regional expansion, which is why we are considering a presence in Middle Eastern countries offering interesting opportunities in the coming year.

What would you say are your key strengths? The range and quality of our products are our strengths as a brand. When we look for a partner to distribute our products,

BMB - BENOIT CAKE The advantage of Benoit is that the same recipe is sourced from different reliable suppliers from around the world to ensure stability in both levels. The most important aspect of what Benoit offers is flexibility.

we are offering them a diverse range, from chocolates and fillings all the way through to cake mixes and jams. Such diversity is instrumental when considering the possibilities for creation.

What is currently in season and what is in vogue? The chocolate industry is constantly evolving and trying to pinpoint the next big thing is going to be is quite a tricky proposition, especially since there are many trends that appear out of nowhere and then fade away after being replaced by other trends. Speculoos and red-velvet are examples of such trends. I think it is important to stay tuned to the global market trends and be ready to act on these as quickly as possible.

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WORLD OF CHOCOLATE Whether from Belgium or Mexico, international flavors come alive with the help of top chefs and the Finest Belgian Chocolate

GIANDUJA SPREAD WITH COCOA NIB CHIPS Created by Luis Robledo - head of the Chocolate Academy™ centre in Mexico City - Mexico Ingredients • 30g water • 80g granulated sugar • 65g glucose syrup DE 60 Preparation • Combine in a sauce pan and cook until a light caramel color appears. Ingredients • 250g Cream EVEN (35.2%) • 40g invert sugar Preparation • Warm up and pour over caramel.

Ingredients • 335g Callebaut - Giandujas Dark gianduja • 50g Callebaut - Finest Belgian Dark Chocolate Recipe N° 811 Preparation • Pour hot cream over chopped gianduja and chocolate. Emulsify with a hand blender and pour into jars.

COCOA NIB TUILE Ingredients • 150g sugar • 2g NH pectin Preparation • Mix together. Ingredients • 120g butter • 50g glucose Preparation • Melt in a saucepan and add the

previous mixture using a whisk. Boil. Ingredients • 175g Callebaut - Cocoa Nibs - Nibs • 10g water Preparation • Add to previous mixture.

PISTACHIO AND APRICOT SABLÉ Created by Alexandre Bourdeaux - chef and owner of Pastry&Chocadvice Belgium Ingredients • 150g butter • 140g light brown sugar • 60g egg yolks • 150g flour • 20g yeast • 125g pistachio powder

Preparation • Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and then the dry ingredients. Place the mixture in a rectangular mould using a piping bag, and decorate with apricot.

PISTACHIO DÉLICE Ingredients • 135g Cream EVEN (35.2%) • 135g milk • 50g pistachio paste • 60g caster sugar • 90g egg yolks

• 27g gelatin Preparation • Make a custard using the first five ingredients. Remove from the heat and add the gelatine. Pour into a mould and freeze.

LEMON CREAM Ingredients • 210g lemon curd • 150g whole egg(s) • 110g sugar • 125g butter • 30g gelatin Preparation • Boil the lemon curd. Add the

eggs and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat; add the gelatine. Cut the butter into small cubes; using an electric mixer beat into the mixture. Using a piping bag, apply a thin layer on top of the pistachio délice and freeze.

VANILLA AND MILK CHOCOLATE BAVARIAN Ingredients • 150g milk • 150g Cream EVEN (35.2%) • 25g sugar • 60g egg yolks • 150g Callebaut - Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate -

Recipe N° 823 • 250g Cream EVEN (35.2%) Preparation • Make a custard using the first four ingredients. Pour over the milk chocolate Callebaut 823. Chill and add the cream.

Finishing and presentation Place the sablé base in a rectangular mould, garnish with the vanilla milk bavarois. Position the pistachio lemon insert and cover with vanilla milk bavarois. Chill, remove from the mould and glaze. Decorate.

EMF Middle East t. +961 9 938732 |





15 June

Batchig brunch gathering to celebrate Vartivar Batchig offered a brunch gathering in its garden to celebrate Vartivar, the Armenian celebration of summer. More than 100 attendees indulged in delicious Armenian and Lebanese bites and after brunch, they kept the Armenian Vartivar tradition alive with a refreshing water battle.

10 August

Bartartine launches its new outdoor bar on the Dbayeh terrace With the slogan ‘To Cocktails & Good Times’, a large gathering of bloggers, influencers, media and bartartine loyal customers joined the celebration and raised their glasses to summer and fresh sensations.

22 August

Phoenicia Hotel hosts Gastronomic Delights of Pakistan Dinner Under the patronage of Ghattas Khoury, minister of culture, and Pierre Abi Assi, minister of social events, and in the presence of H.E. Aftab Khokher, ambassador of Pakistan, the week-long celebration at the Mosaic included creations prepared by two chefs from Serena Hotel Islam Abad.



2 August

The return of SKYBAR Fifteen years after its inception, SKYBAR reopened its doors. The launch highlighted the extensive and creative work undertaken on the iconic nightclub, notably the preliminary layout designs done by Sari el Khazen, following the project development masterminded by sister architects, Tessa and Tara Sakhi of atelier2té.

18 August

Jardin #3alLebnene at Le Royal The 'Le Royal Hotels - Beirut', proud member of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), launched a new dining concept known as ‘Jardin 3al Lebnene’ around the main pool area at ‘Les Jardins du Royal’.

18 August

A fun approach to public health education with Boecker and KidzMondo Building on a four-year partnership, Boecker® and KidzMondo held a two-day meet-andgreet activity to bring young explorers a oneof-kind, hands-on experience in public health pest management awareness.

5-6 September

Valrhona event at Four Seasons Beirut Valrhona and Pierre Azar Trading were delighted to welcome 16 'chocoholics' for an exclusive hands-on classes held by Guillaume ROESZ at the Four Seasons Beirut. The aim was to share secrets of key ingredients, learn specific techniques and taste unique pastries. In a comfortable and intimate atmosphere, Valrhona chef Guillaume Roesz shared his knowledge and expertise with guest chefs, fostering exchanges between chefs and providing active input immediately applicable. After few hours of preparations and lots of chocolate tasting, chefs ended the course with a magical themed Christmas buffet.

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Hospitality News Middle East - Oct/Nov 2017 (Issue 114)  

The go-to source for the latest news, trends and developments in the hospitality and foodservice industries throughout the MENA and beyond....