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In conversation with Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder, Gates Hospitality
1. How has Expo 2020 benefitted Gates Hospitality’s operations across the UAE?
With the commencement of Expo 2020, there certainly has been an increase in business volume.
Expo 2020 Dubai has recorded over one million visits in the first 24 days, figures show. Between just October 1 to 10, a total of 411,768 ticketed visits were recorded – with one in five visiting the site more than once.
One in three visitors have come from abroad as per officially quoted figures – which is a remarkable achievement.
I am sure that when the pandemic travel opens up in other countries and global destinations ease their travel restrictions to fly to the region, there would be an even further increase.
In the context of business, this increase in volume has certainly benefitted the Gates Hospitality operations. It has been even more encouraging to note that we have seven brands inside the Expo 2020 site as culinary entity venues, as well as seven other venues operating in different part of the city.
This global event would certainly be a strong catalyst to catapult Dubai into a truly world-class gastronomical hub in times to come.
2. What is the outlook for business over the coming six months and beyond?
The outlook for business in the city looks very strong and positive in the next six months during the Expo 2020 and in the times ahead.
3. When do you expect recovery to pre-pandemic levels?
By the most conservative of estimates, I would expect recovery of business to reach pre-pandemic levels before the year end.
4. Covid-19 fundamentally disrupted business for the hospitality sector. Did Gates reshape its business strategies to aid recovery?
Yes, certainly - as the need of the hour was and the situation demanded, we did reshape and realign our business strategies to focus more on the local market, working strongly with communities and neighbourhoods unitedly.
Recognition is key to any brand and we took the brands to a natural online extension which did help us succeed in our recovery path during the pandemic.
5. Has there been a permanent change in the way you manage your staff/resources?
We have not embarked on a marked change, as each of our businesses are unique and require a specialised set of skills.
Having said that, out heart-of-house team such as finance, purchasing, IT, sales and marketing, PR and graphic design have all become a consolidated hub, catering to all the brand venues spread across the city.
6. Are innovative disruptions such as cloud kitchens or vertical farming impacting players such as Gates Hospitality?
We strongly believe that cloud kitchens and vertical gardens are an entirely different business model and the emergence of these have not impacted our businesses in any way.
7. Is Gates looking to expand to other markets in the region, such as Saudi Arabia (which is positioning itself as the next big tourist hub in the region) or Qatar (home to Fifa 2022)?
Expansion is always on the horizon and [part of the] plans for us. As and when opportunities arise which we feel is sustainable and we can make a difference, we will explore to expand across all global markets, not just limited to the region.
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