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Food & Drink

Food & drink news from the Middle East. All the important stories, exclusive interviews, plus authoritative opinion and analysis

Agtech

Farming tech startup moves HQ from Europe to UAE

A Finnish tech startup is swapping the green countryside of Northern Europe for the Arabian desert as it looks to grow its urban farming business. iFarm was invited in November to join the incentive programme of Abu Dhabi’s Hub71, the technology project led by Mubadala Investment Company and backed by the Government of Abu Dhabi.  […]

Drink Dry

Forget ‘Dry January’ – more Gulf drinkers ditching booze all year

Dry January, the initiative of abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year, has become a yearly fixture in many people’s lives since it was launched by Alcohol Change UK in 2013, and the Middle East is no exception.  “We definitely see sales increase in the UAE,” Erika Doyle, founder and managing director […]

Talabat managing director Tatiana Rahal previously worked on data analytics for Visa and Mazda

Cashless economy is at the door, says food delivery boss

A cashless economy in the UAE is no longer just an ambition, according to Tatiana Rahal, managing director of food delivery giant Talabat UAE. “The future in the UAE is digital and we see cashless payments as the primary currency,” said Rahal, the company’s first MD who has previously worked on data analytics for brands […]

Investors are increasingly interested in startups aiming to improve, expand and optimise the agricultural and food industries

Agtech startups and Egypt are hot prospects for Mena funding

Startups across the Middle East and North Africa region raised $125 million in funding in December last year, with Egyptian companies leading the pack, ahead of regional powerhouses the UAE and Saudi Arabia. A joint report by Wamda and Digital Digest showed that Egyptian startups secured $45.7 million across 11 deals in December, more than […]

Dubai hotel Radisson Red Silicon Oasis is partnering with cloud kitchen firm Krush Brands to offer food variety to both guests and the local community

Gulf hotels and cloud kitchens join forces to cook up extra profit

Partnership between hotels with spare capacity and fast-growing cloud kitchens is a “no brainer”, say industry experts. Radisson Hotel Group in Dubai recently announced a partnership with food technology company Krush Brands, with the first cloud kitchen location at Radisson Red Silicon Oasis. Cloud kitchens are companies that prepare food solely for home delivery without […]

Dubai's alcohol tax

Dubai’s alcohol tax cut met with some cheers but more booze

Dubai’s move to suspend the 30 percent tax on alcohol has triggered differing views about its impact on retail and hospitality businesses and their customers. Some experts say it will result in a short term boost in sales and will deter residents from travelling to other emirates to buy cheap liquor. But industry insiders disagree […]

Raw Coffee has seen a major shift in consumer use as people have taken to perfecting their drink at home

Success brewing for UAE’s speciality coffee culture

Three years after the Covid pandemic broke many businesses, a new landscape is brewing that could fundamentally change the UAE’s coffee culture. Coffee shops were among the first to shut their doors in 2020 and bear the brunt of prolonged lockdowns. But the pandemic has changed customer behaviour and palettes, and the country’s independent operators […]

Morocco food

Abu Dhabi’s Dana turns focus on Moroccan agtech solutions

Dana Global, a desert tech venture builder and investment platform based in Abu Dhabi, is partnering with Agadir Horticultural Complex to help transform agriculture in Morocco. The Agadir region forms the heart of Morocco’s agricultural industry and provides 9 percent of national GDP while processing 90 percent of the country’s fresh produce market. The region […]

Food security

$5.5m initiative for food security in Mediterranean countries

A new $5.5 million package of technical assistance to improve food security in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the West Bank and Gaza has been agreed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. The joint initiative, which will be launched in January, is […]

Food Presentation, Food, Glove

Dubai restaurants report tasty boost from World Cup

Dubai restaurants have seen revenues rise by an average of 20 percent during the World Cup, with increased deliveries to homes and offices. “We had anticipated a 20 percent increase in business during [the World Cup] and we are more or less achieving it,” said Sanjay Vazirani, CEO of Foodlink Global Restaurants and Catering Services. […]

Aerofarms

Abu Dhabi backs women-led food security startups in Mena

Dana Global, an Abu Dhabi-based venture builder and investment platform that supports women-led startups in agricultural technology (agtech) and water solutions, has announced a new partnership to tackle the food security situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Its agreement with Silal, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s $110 billion state holding company ADQ, focused […]

An Emirati farmer inspects a passionfruit on his Dubai farm. Gulf governments want to grow more food locally

GMG-Silal deal aims to dish up customers for 1,100 UAE farms

More locally grown food is set to be sold in UAE supermarkets under a link-up between retailer GMG and agri-food business Silal, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund ADQ. Under the deal, which was signed at last week’s Abu Dhabi International Food Exhibition, up to 1,100 UAE farms contracted to Silal will be supported to […]

Hardhat, Helmet, Clothing

Mubadala-backed Getir buys fast grocery rival in $1.2bn deal

Turkish delivery company Getir has bought German rival Gorillas in a deal worth $1.2 billion that will merge two of the remaining companies in Europe promising groceries in minutes. Serkan Borancili, who founded Istanbul-based Getir in 2015, shared the price tag on Twitter on Friday and said the combined company was now stronger. The deal […]

Slattery

Irish aviation tycoon to help grow Gulf agtech startup

Irish entrepreneur Dómhnal Slattery, best known for scaling companies in the aviation sector, has been appointed a special adviser to one of the Gulf’s biggest startups, and is open to more potential investments in the region. Pure Harvest Smart Farms, the agtech startup based in Abu Dhabi, in July raised $180 million in funding from […]

Saudi prince backs US lamb-flavoured plant startup

KBW Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, was one of the prime investors in a $12.3 million fundraising round by a San Francisco-based foodtech startup developing plant-based meat products that taste like lamb. Founded in 2019, Black Sheep Foods also attracted investment from other US-based plant-based venture veterans […]

A vertical farm in Sharjah. Similar facilities are being developed around the Gulf

Gulf reaches for vertical farming to bolster food security

A joint venture has been set up to develop a network of indoor vertical farms across Saudi Arabia as GCC governments seek to reduce their reliance on imported food. Mowreq Specialised Agriculture Co and biotech firm YesHealth Group have founded Vertical Farms Company, which will begin by building the kingdom’s largest indoor vertical farm in Riyadh.  The […]

Food, Snack, Fries

KFC Mena franchisee generates $105bn in orders for dual IPO

Americana Restaurants, the Middle East and North Africa franchisee of KFC and Pizza Hut, has set the final offer price for its upcoming initial public offering at $0.71 per share in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the UAE state-owned WAM news agency reported. The dual listing on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the […]

Vertical saffron farm spices up UAE’s agtech sector

Agtech company Veggitech opened the first vertical saffron farm in Sharjah this summer, with the harvest of the expensive spice, known as red gold, peaking at the end of November.  The UAE saffron farm is the largest in the Middle East and North African region, spanning only 165 square metres but equivalent to 3.5 hectares […]

food waste turned into compost

Coffee Planet using its waste to help turn desert into fertile soil

A partnership between Dubai-based coffee shop company Coffee Planet and sustainability startup The Waste Lab is helping to turn parts of the desert into arable soil. Desert soil is not completely unusable, but it lacks the organic matter needed to grow crops or vegetation. Coffee shops, meanwhile, have an abundance of organic matter, in the […]

Cost Coffee Saudi

Branded coffee shops expand across the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa’s (Mena) branded coffee shops market has grown 10.5 percent to 8,874 outlets in the past year. Saudi Arabia, which named 2022 the year of Saudi coffee, is the largest market in the region, growing 18.5 percent to reach 3,556 outlets and accounting for 40 percent of all stores in […]

Budweiser campaign curbed, not crashed, by Qatar beer ban

A last-minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums will seriously limit Budweiser sales in the Gulf state, but will not derail its owner’s global campaign during the tournament, industry analysts said. Soccer world governing body FIFA’s announcement of the ban on Friday, just two days before the event kicks […]

Beer to cost nearly $14 per half-litre at Qatar World Cup

Half a litre of beer will cost QR 50 ($13.73) inside the main fan zone at the soccer World Cup in Qatar, a source with knowledge of alcohol sales at the tournament told Reuters. Major World Cup sponsor Budweiser has exclusive rights to sell beer at the finals and will serve its products at the […]