Abu Dhabi launches $100m investment fund to attract top restaurants

Financing will support building a culinary school to help with recruitment, training and staffing for the sector

DCT Abu Dhabi will announce the first two recipients of the new Abu Dhabi Culinary Investment Fund in the coming months. Photo: DCT Abu Dhabi
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Abu Dhabi has set up a new $100 million culinary investment fund to help attract the top global restaurant brands to the UAE capital, as it seeks to draw more people to live, work and invest in the emirate.

The fund by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) will support building and establishing a culinary school to help with recruitment, training and staffing for the sector, the government body said on Wednesday.

The school will offer a core curriculum and introduce two new degree programmes that focus on maritime sustainability and food security.

The new Abu Dhabi Culinary Investment Fund will co-invest with local asset partners and incentivise top chefs, restaurants and culinary educational institutions to enter the Abu Dhabi market, the government department said.

“This fund, in combination with the Culinary School, will ensure that Abu Dhabi appeals to even more visitors around the world, who can experience increasingly diverse and high-quality dining in the emirate, centred on our tradition of Emirati hospitality,” said Saleh Al Geziry, director general for tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi.

The move comes a couple of weeks after DCT Abu Dhabi launched a new fund aimed at further increasing corporate events and incentive travel in the emirate, as the UAE capital seeks to expand business tourism.

Abu Dhabi wants to encourage more investors, businesses and highly-skilled people to move to the city as it further develops strategic non-oil sectors, from tourism to advanced manufacturing, as part of wider plans to diversify its economy from hydrocarbons.

The new culinary fund follows Abu Dhabi's development as a rapidly growing gastronomical hub.

Applicants can apply to the fund if they meet the main requisites outlined by DCT Abu Dhabi.

Restaurant brands or chefs applying must be recognised by major awards committees and global culinary guides and must be operating in more than one country.

Applicants should offer a premium casual, lifestyle or fine-dining experience, but without having an existing presence in the region, and make their debut in Abu Dhabi — with a one-year period of exclusivity to the emirate, DCT Abu Dhabi said.

The body is set to announce the first two recipients in the coming months.

Abu Dhabi recently hosted the Michelin team to launch the first Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi.

The guide identified 42 restaurants across the emirate, awarded three establishments with one Michelin star for their high-quality cooking and four with a Bib Gourmand that recognises culinary excellence and value.

Updated: April 19, 2023, 11:58 AM