Gulfood 2023 reaffirms Dubai’s position as the food capital of the worldWed 22 Feb 2023
Dubai: Organised by the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), Gulfood, the largest annual global food and beverage sourcing event in the world, is being held from February 20 to 24, 2023. Gulfood has become a major event in Dubai’s food scene, showcasing its culinary prowess and diverse food industry. It has cemented the city’s position as the food capital of the world. In the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, the event will have a special emphasis on sustainable initiatives and unveil several projects aimed at promoting sustainability.
Gulfood 2023 has launched its new global sustainability initiative, Gulfood Green, to promote more sustainable food production and consumption. The event presents topics related to sustainability, such as reducing food waste and building a more sustainable food business. Gulfood has also launched its international tree-planting campaign called Gulfood Forest to help conserve, restore, and grow trees globally, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, said: “Following the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who has announced ‘environment and sustainability’ among the UAE’s top 5 priorities for 2023, we are proud to be launching several sustainability initiatives at Gulfood 2023.
“In the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, these initiatives will help to promote responsible and sustainable practices across the F&B industry in Dubai and beyond. From reducing food waste and promoting healthy eating to sourcing sustainable ingredients and reducing carbon footprints, these initiatives will help to ensure that Dubai remains at the forefront of the global food and beverage industry, while also supporting the city’s wider sustainability goals.
“We believe that sustainability is not just an obligation, but a responsibility, and we are committed to working closely with our partners and stakeholders to create a more sustainable future for our city and our planet. We look forward to continuing to drive innovation, excellence and sustainability across the F&B industry, and to welcoming visitors from around the world to experience the very best that our city has to offer.”
The 28th edition of the show is 30% larger than the previous edition, with more than 5,000 confirmed exhibitors, including 1,500 first-time exhibitors. The event brings together F&B communities from around the world in Dubai to discuss the future of the rapidly evolving sector. This year, Gulfood Plus, a new hall with 10,000 sqm of added floorspace, has been introduced, where first-time exhibitors are showcasing product innovations.
Gulfood Green Awards will also be held to recognise excellence in sustainability across the F&B industry. The Gulfood Inspire Conference, which includes ministers, F&B leaders, entrepreneurs, civil society, and industry experts, will discuss sustainable food production, food security, nutrition education, waste reduction, securing international supply chains, and food service trends.
Gulfood has partnered with Mintel, a market intelligence agency, to create a thought leadership programme for the F&B industry. Gulfood Green aims to help shift towards more resilient and sustainable food production and consumption to reverse the trends of inflation and rising costs of consumer goods, food, utilities, and fuel. Gulfood 2023 gathers the global F&B industry to offer a platform for business opportunities and innovations while leading the way in sustainability.
Gulfood is also set to launch two new events. Gulfood Green and Gulfood Agrotech will take place from 24 to 26 September 2024 and will focus on showcasing smart agriculture technologies and innovative practices that support climate-friendly food access, sourcing, production, transportation, logistics, and distribution. The events will particularly emphasise the impact of these practices on developing countries. The events aim to provide a critical annual platform to address the socio-economic and environmental challenges facing the global food industry. They will bring together stakeholders to collaborate and exchange innovative ideas for improving global food security.
Dubai’s F&B sector continues to record steady growth, with the emirate now home to 13,000 restaurants and cafés serving a variety of cuisines, from fine dining to street food, that shape the city’s delightfully international F&B landscape.
Dubai has been recognised as the food capital of the world, with the arrival of culinary guides like Gault&Millau UAE, Michelin Guide Dubai, and Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants. Leading restaurants in Dubai are creating new and original concepts by blending cuisines, styles, and ingredients, reflecting the city’s cultural diversity. Showcasing the best of Dubai’s gastronomy, Michelin Guide Dubai features 69 of the city’s finest restaurants.
Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “Following the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate has its sights set on becoming the most visited destination in the world. The growth of the F&B sector reflects Dubai’s business-friendly and transparent investment environment, marked by exceptional ease of doing business and high levels of security and safety.”
One of the world’s most popular tourist hotspots with a stated ambition to become the best city in the world to live and work in, visitors and residents now increasingly see Dubai as a global gastronomy hub. “The increase in the number of restaurants and cafés is also driven by Dubai’s dynamic entrepreneurial landscape and investor confidence in its growth prospects,” said Kazim. “The city has accelerated the tourism momentum over the past two years, ending 2021 with 7.28 million visitors and 2022 with 14.36 million international visitors, a 97% year-on-year growth,” he added.
The inaugural Michelin Guide Dubai revealed in June last year firmly puts the city on the global gastronomy map. Michelin said the Dubai guide, its first in the Middle East, ‘celebrates Dubai’s spectacular culinary map, that is as vibrant and diverse as it is energetic.’
“Dubai is a leader in culinary excellence. We are honoured that the city has been included in the Michelin Guide. Home to nationals from 200 countries, the city is a gourmand’s delight. A sustained increase in its population and unprecedented tourist growth has made Dubai a hotspot for international cuisines,” said Kazim.
The Dubai World Cuisine initiative is being launched at Gulfood 2023, where celebrity chefs will showcase their signature dishes. Seven iconic global chefs will collaborate for one night only to present a never-seen-before menu across the city. The Dubai World Cuisine initiative focuses on partnering Dubai chefs with their peers from other international culinary hotspots, with a focus on Michelin-starred chefs from Singapore. This inaugural year of Dubai World Cuisine will offer a unique culinary experience to food connoisseurs.
Dubai has emerged as a leading destination for food lovers, thanks to a diverse culinary scene that showcases cuisines from around the world. The cosmopolitan city has become a melting pot of cultures, attracting top chefs and culinary talents from around the globe. Dubai’s food culture has been shaped by its unique geography, with its location at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa. The city boasts a rich tradition of Arabic cuisine, but also offers a wide variety of international dishes, from Italian and French to Indian and Chinese.
In recent years, Dubai has witnessed a surge in food carnivals and events, including the annual Dubai Food Festival, which attracts thousands of foodies from around the world. The city is known for several events with a special focus on food, including the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, Eid in Dubai, and Ramadan in Dubai, in addition to the various independent activities organised by malls and large restaurant chains.
The city has also become home to numerous high-end restaurants, offering a range of dining experiences from casual street food to Michelin-starred cuisine. Dubai’s position as a global hub for travel and tourism has also contributed to its rise as a food capital. The city’s airport is one of the busiest in the world, connecting Dubai to over 200 destinations across six continents. This has made it easier for tourists and visitors to sample the city’s diverse food offerings.
With the growing demand for food, it is imperative to ensure that food safety and hygiene standards are in place to protect the health of residents and visitors. To this end, Dubai Municipality has taken a proactive approach to enforce best practices in food hygiene through periodic inspections in cooperation with relevant authorities.
According to Dawoud Abdulrahman Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, “Ensuring food safety is a critical issue that has a direct impact on the health of individuals and the reputation of the destination. Therefore, we take food safety very seriously, and it is our top priority to ensure that all food establishments comply with international standards and benchmarks.”
Al Hajri added: “Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department is committed to enhancing confidence in food safety by designing integrated systems that align with both local and international best practices. We establish and utilise unified procedures for controlling imported food and food establishments in Dubai, ensuring the safety of imported food products, food activities and products, as well as investigating and monitoring food-borne illnesses. We aim to promote food safety awareness and ensure the highest standards of food hygiene in the city.”
The risk-based inspections carried out by Dubai Municipality are rigorous and cover a range of areas, including food handling, storage, preparation, and serving. Inspectors ensure that all food handlers have received adequate training and possess the necessary skills to handle food safely. They also check that food is stored at the appropriate temperature, that utensils are clean and properly maintained, and that the environment is free from pests and other potential sources of contamination.
In addition to regular inspections, Dubai Municipality also offers a range of resources and services to help food establishments maintain high levels of food safety. These include training and awareness programmes, guidelines and a digital platform that food business operators can use to manage their day-to-day food safety checks, manage their suppliers and contractors, evaluate their performance reports and receive guidance on how to improve their food safety practices.
“We believe in our role in creating awareness in society to ensure the highest levels of health and safety. These campaigns provide essential information on food safety, covering safe shopping, proper methods of storing and preparing food, ordering food through smart apps, and more. This includes a list of requirements for food delivery services and training workers in food establishments to ensure the application of food safety and public health standards during the food delivery process.
“The outreach efforts are also extended to school students through workshops and educational films, with messages about proper nutrition and recreational activities for children to enhance their knowledge. Ensuring food safety for all is a joint responsibility, and the efforts will continue through the Foodwatch portal and other means to achieve effective communication and participation. Ensuring food safety is not only a legal requirement but a moral obligation towards the community.”
Dubai has established itself as the food capital of the world, offering a diverse range of cuisines that reflect the city’s cosmopolitan culture. With its rich culinary traditions, top chefs and global food events, Dubai is set to remain a top destination for food lovers for years to come.