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Texas entertainment brand set to expand to the Middle East

Each Dave & Buster's has a full-service restaurant and a video arcade
Each Dave & Buster's has a full-service restaurant and a video arcade

Dave & Buster’s, an entertainment and hospitality brand based in Dallas, is expanding to the Middle East.

Following the signing of a 10-year franchise agreement with Saudi firm Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Group, the aim is to open the first of eleven venues next year.

Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Coppell, Texas, the company owns and operates 148 stores across 41 American states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

It is known for its combination of restaurant and entertainment, with attractions such as bowling, laser tag, arcade games and virtual reality.

Antonio Bautista, chief international development officer, told AGBI the partners are aiming to open the first venue in 2023, with the others spread across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

“The agreement covers the right of first offer for the rest of the GCC,” Bautista said.

Although its restaurants usually offer alcohol, Bautista confirmed that the Saudi venues would refrain from doing this.

“There will be a regionalisation; localisation to an extent. And we will do that hand in hand with the local knowledge from our partners and our understanding of the global consumers,” Bautista said.

“Obviously you want to retain the brand DNA, but whether it is the menu [or] the type of arcade games that we have, [there will be] a degree of regionalisation.”

Some of the arcade and virtual reality games in the US venues are themed around popular entertainment brands such as Star Trek, Transformers and Top Gun.

“Dave & Buster’s is a preeminent entertainment brand, and this franchise partnership marks a strategic milestone for our organisation as we continue expanding our entertainment and hospitality portfolio across the region,” Mishal Alhokair, deputy CEO of Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Group, said in a press statement.

Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Group was founded in 1975 and operates 92 entertainment centres and 35 hotels across Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment earlier this month reported record second quarter revenue of $468.4 million, an increase of 35.9 percent compared to the same period in 2019 and a year-on-year increase of 24 percent.

Despite this, net income totaled $29.1 million for the quarter, compared to $52.8 million in Q2 2021 and $32.4 million in Q2 2019.

The fast-growing Saudi entertainment sector has expanded in recent years, with the opening of cinemas, lounges and clubs.

Qiddiya, the kingdom’s new entertainment city, which will include a Six Flags theme park, is set to open next year.

According to a report by Research and Markets, the Saudi entertainment and amusement sector will be worth around $1.170 billion by the end of the year 2030.

Saudi news outlet Argaam reported a 906 percent increase in commercial records issued for the entertainment and arts sector last year, the highest growth rate since 2015, citing information from the Saudi Ministry of Commerce.