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Just recently we have had a talk – a pitch to be precise with onestraw-man-31612_1280 investor / owner of a restaurant group. And when the topic came towards the market, this person mentioned, that the Dubai market isn’t mature enough.

While I have been quite diplomatic in this specific situation, a comment like this rather eats me up inside. I have heard this several times and it almost provedwrong:

  • The alcohol supplier said that the market is not mature enough, when I asked for craft beer. Now it is the fastest growing segment in their portfolio.
  • When I just started in Dubai in Vu’s Bar, some people have given me “good willed” advises, that Dubai is not mature enough, to offer premium (and more expensive) cocktails. Today – there are a lot of bars which do “mixology” and offer premium drinks – and a lot of guests are enjoying those.
  • I have heard the phrase anytime, when I was looking for some unique ingredients: produce, spirits, liqueurs, wine etc. a lot of those products are now here and are rather popular.

I find, that this is a lazy straw man argument. And the supporting arguments often don’t hold up, if you are checking them…

E.g. As I mentioned, I looked for craft beer about 6 or 7 years ago, but all supplier said, that they have nothing such. Then I found one outlet in Dubai serving Brewdog. Hence I went back to the suppliers to ask for it – and several times (within several weeks), both supplier assured me, that they would not have the respective brand in their portfolio – nor did they special imported it. But finally after consistent nagging, one supplier (which previously told me, that they don’t have Brewdog) confirmed, that they in fact have this beer brand available. Hence I ordered it. Without a lot of luck – because the logistics of the company didn’t new anything of the beer brand neither – and basically ignored my order. After I have followed up again with the account manager, they finally “found the product” – but their information was wrong – some of the SKU’s were not available (while others which were not listed were available). This all took several months to sort out – and I was quite happy, when I received finally my first craft beer in the UAE. I sold a couple of different craft beers of Brewdog rather successful – however after a few months, the beers were short expiration and finally discontinued by the supplier. The reason: craft beer doesn’t sell in in the UAE – and the drinkers are not mature enough.

I respectfully disagree – not only did the suppliers failed to advertise (or at least informed anyone of) the respective product, it hasn’t been listed and it seems, that everyone involved actively discouraged me (as client) to buy the product. To say then, that the market is not mature enough, is simply a lie.

Talking about bars, there are a lot of reasons, why a bars don’t work properly here. Inconsistency (quality, message, concept etc.) is one of the reasons. Sheer quality (or better said, the lack of it) is another reason. Leadership, vision, investment are all points as well. But honestly I don’t believe in one second that the market is not mature enough. Dubai is the hub for so many people, with so many diverse backgrounds – and a lot of them a well traveled. There are tourists, residence, business travelers. And the restaurant scene is also thriving… So – the market is mature enough, but often the entrepreneurs / restaurateurs / operators aren’t.