A restaurant chain based in Dubai plans to sell noodles back to the Chinese.
Noodle House, well known for its noodle-shaped pens, could also soon be springing up in Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Jumeirah Group owns the South East Asian-style restaurant brand, which employs an order system in which diners tick boxes on disposable menus, and it has ambitious global expansion plans. This is a rare move for a home-grown restaurant brand that sits alongside an ever-growing number of international names in the UAE dining scene.
Jumeirah Group, part of Dubai Holding, manages luxury hotels including the Burj al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, and Essex House in New York.
"What we're saying is that we want 150 Noodle House development agreements by 2012," said Phil Broad, the managing director of Jumeirah Restaurants.
Noodle House has outlets across the GCC and in locations including Australia and Cyprus. Its sixth restaurant in Dubai opened in Deira a month ago.
The restaurants abroad are based on a franchise model, with Jumeirah owning and operating its Noodle House restaurants in Dubai.
The company plans to open branches in Bahrain and Egypt in the next few weeks, as well as a second Noodle House in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Broad said the company was also in discussions to take the brand to China. "Jumeirah Group is also moving there with their hotels. There is a synergy between us and Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts."
With Dubai a popular destination among Russian tourists, Mr Broad said there had been significant interest from partners who wanted to launch Noodle House there.
"Some of that is driven by the amount of Russians that come into this market as a holiday destination," he said.
The casual dining segment in the UAE is worth Dh2.2 billion (US$598.9m) per year and is expected to increase by 47 per cent to Dh3.24bn by 2015, according to a report released yesterday by Horizons, a food trend analyst.
Noodle House is "a good tidy concept", said Stefan Breg, the chief executive of the food and beverage consultancy Tribe Restaurant Creators. He said other local companies had ambitions for international expansion, but that Noodle House seemed to be leading the way in terms of exporting a home-grown restaurant brand. "It's of the same genre as Wagamama."
Mr Breg said there was demand for such restaurants globally. "There's a growing middle class, people have more disposable income."
One of the brands Jumeirah is investing in is its Dubai branch of The Ivy, the popular restaurant in London's West End.
Jumeirah Restaurants said more than 84 tables and about 350 guests were already booked for The Ivy in Emirates Towers.
"We will potentially open in May, but we're taking bookings from June because we can't give the exact date yet," the company said.
The Ivy is replacing Scarlett's, which closed at the beginning of the year for construction on the new property. The Ivy and brands such as Le Caprice and Scott's are owned by Caprice Holdings.
Last September Jumeirah took over the Middle East rights for brands from Tatweer, which, like Jumeirah, is also part of Dubai Holding.