At Dh11,000 per TV screen to show the World Cup, Dubai restaurants hope for bumper crowds

Outlets pay more for subscriptions to show matches from Doha

Muhammad Sharida said they are expecting plenty of fans for the World Cup matches at Toma Lounge in Barsha Heights. Image: Toma Lounge
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Thousands of Dubai food outlets are gearing up to cater to hordes of football aficionados that live in the city and the thousands that are expected to use the emirate as a base for the World Cup.

Interest locally will be from supporters of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco, who have qualified for the tournament alongside host Qatar.

We had a setback in business during Covid-19 but I believe this season will make up for some of the losses
Mohammad Dalalaa, restaurant owner

The flags of teams competing in the Fifa World Cup are already hanging outside Toma Lounge in Dubai's Barsha Heights.

The extra large, widescreen TVs have been moved into place, ready for the start of the month-long tournament.

Like many restaurants and cafes that serve shisha in Dubai, they're expecting a surge in customers for World Cup matches, which have kick-off times from 2pm to 11pm.

“We certainly expect to see a stronger footfall of fans coming to watch the games on our screens,” said Syrian Muhammad Sharida, sales head at Toma Lounge.

Investing in extra screens

Fans in Abu Dhabi watching the Africa Cup of Nations in February. Shisha cafes will be popular venues for fans watching the World Cup this year. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

To show the World Cup on commercial premises, cafes and restaurants have to pay Dh11,000 per screen to official broadcaster beIN Sports.

Mr Sharida said the Syrian restaurant paid Dh44,000 for four screens.

“We had three screens and added a fourth just about two weeks ago,” he said.

“It was a few thousand dirhams difference between the cost of an annual commercial subscription and the one specifically for the duration of the tournament.”

The restaurant will be able to cater for 100 fans and the owners are expecting to get a decent return on their investment.

“I believe we will have a full house during the tournament which should make up for the subscription fees,” said Mr Sharida.

The restaurant is considering five options of set menus to offer customers but expects that most will opt for a drink and shisha.

“We are considering one of five options but football enthusiasts usually go for a drink and shisha so I think that's one option we might go for,” he said.

Making up for losses from last two years

The Pastel Cafe and Restaurant on Dubai’s Sheikh Rashid Road is known for showing major football matches.

Owner Anwar Hassan Shabana told The National he has installed two big screens, in addition to four small ones already there, that will show all the matches.

“The World Cup is a big chance for us to attract more customers who love to watch the matches and dine at the same time,” said Mr Shabana.

“I heard hundreds of thousands of football fans are coming to Dubai for the World Cup and this is promising that we will see more customers.”

The restaurant, which serves Arabic cuisine and shisha, is expected to be operating at full capacity during the tournament.

“We have regular customers who come to watch European football and Champions League matches but with the World Cup we added two big screens as a special treat to build up the excitement,” he said.

Al Terrace Restaurant and Cafe on Ajman Corniche accommodates up to 160 customers in smoking and non-smoking zones and is expecting a full house on many nights during the World Cup.

It has paid Dh66,000 for its six screens.

“We had a setback in business during Covid-19 but I believe this season will make up for some of the losses,” said restaurant owner Mohammad Dalalaa, from Jordan.

He said the World Cup is a special event that needs no advertising.

“I was a customer and came here to watch the World Cup games and cheer for Germany before I bought the place,” he said.

“But this tournament I’m a Qatar and Saudi teams fan.”

Broadcaster beIN Sports has been contacted for comment.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 6:44 AM