Revealed: What, where and how much UAE residents eat

The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, offering a great mix and varieties of dining out options both to the residents and tourists. Be it Italian, Continental, Arabic or any other cuisine, there are some cuisines which are more in demand than the others.

In a place as multicultural as the UAE, operators are constantly trying to find cuisine offers to please the palates of the different population segments. Although there have been a number of new offerings in recent times, the top choices of cuisine in the UAE have largely remained consistent.

While the leading cuisines are similar to 2016, Italian and Lebanese cuisines have edged Indian food in terms of wider popularity. That said, Indian and Lebanese are still the most popular, first-choice cuisines, reveals a study by KPMG report.

The restaurant footprint of Dubai, in particular, measured as number of restaurants outlets per million population, compares well with some of the established global food and beverages (F&B) markets such as Paris, London and New York. In fact, if overnight visitors are considered, Dubai has more outlets per million than New York, underlining the emirate’s position as a global F&B destination.

Similar views on the cuisines were echoed by a number of operators, who indicated that Italian and Lebanese have a stronger than ever appeal with UAE consumers. Other cuisines that are gaining popularity include Peruvian, Greek and Asian fusion.

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A survey conducted by KPMG revealed that the Indian cuisines are the first choice of 17 per cent respondents, second choice for eight per cent and third choice for the seven per cent.

How often and how much?

The trends in frequency of eating out and average spend have broadly remained consistent over the past years, says KPMG report.

Lunch and dinner are the most frequently eaten-out meals, albeit for differing reasons. While convenience drives eating out for lunch, dinners are more about experience and socialising. Similarly, consumers tend to spend more on dinners and brunches when compared with other meals; breakfasts are usually light on the consumer’s wallet.

Though not the same, takeaway and delivery are similar choices; both are witnessing a rise as an increasing number of consumers prefer the convenience of ordering in and enjoying greater choice, says KPMG report.

Price on the rise

According to KPMG report, operators have tried to maintain prices, to the extent that it does not hurt their business and have selectively increased prices through a mix of menu refreshes and price increases on specific items.

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Despite such conscious efforts, such changes have not gone unnoticed: consumers believed they were currently spending much more when they eat out compared with last year. An overwhelming 78 per cent of the consumers felt that it has become more expensive to eat out over the last 12 months.

As a consequence, they are attempting to modify some of their eating-out habits. They are more aware of what they order or opt for more affordable options. Some consumers have also cut down on their frequency of eating out.

Where you eat?

Given the high mall density in the UAE, it is no surprise that restaurants and food courts within these complexes are the most preferred location for eating out.

Nearly 3 out of 4 consumers said they eat out at outlets within malls at least once a month.

For nearly half of our respondents, hotel-based restaurants, which are perceived to be high-end dining experiences, are for special occasions. But they do have a stable patronage, perhaps linked to the fine-dining concepts, as one out of six consumers visit hotels for eating out at least once a week.

Source Credit: Khaleej Times

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