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Abu Dhabi sets up $100m fund to elevate restaurant scene

Fine dining restaurant table Unsplash/Jay Wennington
The Abu Dhabi Culinary Investment Fund aims to draw top-level chefs and restaurants
  • Department of Culture and Tourism has launched $100m fund
  • Aims to attract leading chefs and brands to Abu Dhabi
  • Three Abu Dhabi restaurants have been granted a Michelin Star

Abu Dhabi has set up a $100 million investment fund to help attract more global restaurant brands to the city.

The Abu Dhabi Culinary Investment Fund, announced by the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi, will also support building and establishing a culinary school. 

The school will offer an established core curriculum and introduce two new degree programmes that focus on maritime sustainability and food security.

The fund aims to further elevate the culinary scene by co-investing with local asset partners and incentivising top chefs, restaurants and culinary educational institutions to enter the local market.

“The main requisites for successful fund applicants are brands or chefs recognised by leading awards committees and global culinary guides, with a multi-regional presence,” said Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, director general for tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi.

Applicants should offer a premium casual, lifestyle or fine dining experience and must be making their debut in Abu Dhabi – with a one-year period of exclusivity to the emirate.

DCT Abu Dhabi is set to announce the first two recipients of the new fund later this year as it looks to rival its neighbour Dubai for top dining brands. 

Abu Dhabi’s dining scene has recently launched its first Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi, which lists 42 restaurants and has awarded three establishments with one Michelin Star for their menu quality.

Max Grenard, co-founder of the UAE Restaurants Group and corporate food and beverage director of Wasl Hospitality & Leisure, said the launch of Michelin in the UAE has been “very positive”.

“It’s about time that the UAE upgrades its standards to be more recognisable internationally. I am proud to say that Dubai is among one of the top cities in the world when it comes to importing international brands.”

He said the launch of the guide would motivate local restaurateurs “to be on top of their game”, adding: “The UAE has always been a location that gives brands wide exposure and expansion opportunities, especially for international operators.”

The UAE Restaurants Group is a not-for-profit entity that supports efforts to make the UAE one of the fastest-emerging gastronomical hubs in the world.

Michelin-Starred restaurants in Abu Dhabi

  • 99 Sushi Bar is a Japanese restaurant run by Spanish owners who import most of the seafood from their native country.
  • Hakkasan’s Abu Dhabi outpost is located within the Emirates Palace Hotel and serves Cantonese cuisine. 
  • Talea by Antonio Guida celebrates family-style cooking dishes such as maccheroncelli alla Genovese, turbot with Mediterranean guazzetto and tiramisu.