Blog: Hannah Abdullajust-food all set for Gulfood

Hannah Abdulla | 6 February 2015

Dubai - the modern day New York, with its towering skyscrapers and bright lights - and at the centre of many a food manufacturer's business in the Middle East.

PepsiCo opened its first innovation centre in Dubai - one which is designed to serve the entire Middle East region. Mars pumped US$460m into its factory in the city to up capacity.

But some big names have been in Dubai for some time now. We spoke to Nestle and Mondelez International at last year's Gulfood show - both operate production facilities in Dubai that serve as their regional hubs. Arla Foods also has its regional HQ in Dubai.

So what exactly is the fuss about when it comes to this city? Well, it's not so much the city as it is the region. Dubai - and even the wider UAE - is almost like opening the lid of a treasure box.

Many multinationals who have their base in Dubai have commented there is a certain ease in trading from there. As just-food learnt from its last visit, the governing authorities in the UAE enable foreign entities to invest into the market with certain liberties you would not get elsewhere in the GCC.

And the country's central location has also been a point of attraction. Rasmus Malmbak Kjeldsen, director of operations for Arla's business in the Middle East and Africa, said the dairy group chose the city as it "serves as the perfect hub in terms of getting around". Mondelez operates its Russian, South African, Moroccan and Pakistani operations out of its Dubai office.

"Geographically, Dubai is well positioned - especially if you are managing the region, it is extremely well connected," Vishal Tikku, Mondelez's director of operations in the Middle East told us last year.

And it appears more and more food manufacturers of varying sizes are becoming aware of the city when considering their expansion into the Middle East. Singapore's Yong Wen Food told just-food it had its eye on Dubai at SIAL 2014, and UK free-from firm Doves Farm has also mentioned it has Dubai as part of its growth plans.

With that in mind, we're again flying over to the city for this year's annual Gulfood exhibition, which this year is showcasing 4,800 companies. We plan to bring you live updates and news from the show, as well as exclusive interviews with some of the biggest global names in food.

Interested in the opportunities Dubai and the Middle East could bring to your business?

Check just-food in the coming days to learn more.



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