Popular Dubai chef Izu Ani, the man behind a number of restaurant concepts in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been awarded a UAE golden visa for his dedication to the restaurant industry.
With the golden visa, a programme announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in May 2019, Ani will have a renewable 10-year visa in the UAE.
He says he feels honoured and proud to be a recipient of the golden visa.
"To me, Dubai is not a transient place, it is somewhere that we can call home, rather than just pass through. It is a destination that allows us to grow," the Nigerian-born London-raised chef said.
“When we invest in ourselves, in our passions and projects, we plant the seeds of development. Dubai enables us to see the world with the eyes of a child, to explore and build our dreams into our realities, and for that I will always be grateful.”
Ani, who began his career in London and then lived in France for six years, relocated to Dubai in 2010 by joining the award-winning La Petite Maison (now LPM Dubai). He then moved to La Serre, also in Dubai, before launching YSeventy7, his own creative consulting and management agency, specialising in the food and beverage industry.
Through the agency, he's launched many popular dining concepts in the region, including carine, The Lighthouse, Izu Brasserie & Bakery and Gaia, in partnership with restaurateur Evgeny Kuzin, in the UAE. Throughout the GCC, he's also launched Sum+Things in Riyadh and Izu restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, Doha.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, is a regular at some of Ani's restaurants.
Earlier in April, Ani, along with Kuzin, launched Kitch-In, a food-technology platform that will deliver premium cuisine at affordable prices. The service will initially be launched at the Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City.
"With every restaurant, I put myself in a different situation," Ani told The National in an earlier interview. "It allows me to adapt, to make myself relevant. It's my way of discovering who I am. If you do the same thing over and over again, why does a person come and need to try it a second time? I believe that each concept needs to have its own identity. It really isn't about me; I'm just in the background."
The 10-year golden visa programme was initially awarded to 6,800 investors and businessmen. In November 2020, the UAE significantly expanded the system to attract more foreign professionals and encourage them to settle for longer.