Our Correspondent EMIRATES BUSINESS
Dubai is by far the epicenter of cultural exchange, landmarks that can be seen from space and a place where the world’s cuisine gathers in a gastronomical extravaganza. As the world braces for the showdown leading to Expo 2020 which is set to take place in Dubai, the construction industry is at a frenzy creating new cities and parks that would stand in the forefront as a beacon to Dubai’s global stand as a Megacity.
Samantha Sabah is at the forefront of PR and Social Media for the food industry in Dubai, being the co-founder & CEO of Le Pear Societe, a PR and Social Media company based in Dubai that only works with food outlets. She says, “Food has always been a passion for me, it makes me see the people behind a certain cuisine from the ingredients, décor and presentation of their food. A dish also has cultural significance and historical significance, a bite is often the best way to immerse into the deeper roots of a certain culture.”
A clash of cultures and tastes defines a metropolis such as Dubai, and citizens are spoilt for choices on food, fashion, art and culture. The food industry has played a significant part in Dubai’s growth and witnessing a great migration of ideas from home grown brands showcasing culinary delights as well as an influx of Michelin star chefs coming and representing in Dubai.
Samantha has an eye for culture and food and it is her thoughts and branding professionalism that makes a food brand talk to its customers. “How we look at food is very different than how we look at other things, food is very personal because we consume it, and it’s more personal than just touching it. It becomes part of us and thus we become part of the culture and history behind the origin of a certain dish” she adds.
There are over 6000 restaurants in the UAE and that is set to grow to 19,000 outlets by 2019 according to Euromonitor International. In the UAE, there is a restaurant that would fit the budget and taste of any individual, such is the diversity of the industry. The restaurants from the subcontinent are numerous as well as all the major international chains but there are unique hot spots of African and South American restaurants that would not be normally present in many metropolises.
As a Canadian, Samantha has been primarily exposed to North American dishes. “At home, we would mainly cook pasta, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and greens and when we would go out it would be for steak. Don’t think that we are a bunch of unhealthy hoggers, we do have our quota of organic greens to supplement. Here in Dubai, the varieties of steak is enormous, we can choose from Argentinian steak houses, to the more traditional American ones as well as get our hands down to some prime USDA certified ones. This we did not have back home” says Samantha.
Being in love with anything related to food, she had decided that Dubai was the place where she can do what she love and make a living of it. Thus this led to the Samantha’s PR & Social Media company. She deems that her team members love food as much as she do and they take a different approach when they talk about food.
Food critics and social media influencers are the norm of the day. These individuals not only have a great following but they understand whether a certain recipe is done right. The trends have changed when it comes to food. UAE residents look at reviews in ZOMATO and their favorite food bloggers in deciding where they would dine. It is word of mouth that strengthens and also breaks a restaurant. Competition is stiff, the tastes are now more mature and varied. People understand great food and are critics themselves. The food and beverage industry in the UAE is always growing, there is always more room. Dubai’s expansion plans are creating opportunities for home grown brands and encouraging them to be different. A clash of intellectuals as you say, but this time they are flowing their creativity into their menu. The means of communication has become taste.
Food always brings a smile on Samantha’s face, “How can we not love the smell of spices and fresh ingredients, I get butterflies when a dish lands in front of me. My friends always notices the change in my personality as I become more vocal as I take a bite. From adjectives like ‘mmm’ they know that my senses are working overtime and I should be better left alone.”
Though not a food critic herself, Samantha see’s the industry as a third person and this helps her clients, as she can relate her thoughts and communication skills based on a customer’s point of view. This eye on a customer’s take is important in feeling their pulse on the industry.
As the country grows, Le Pear Societe under the firm yet playful gaze of Samantha is poised to take on the challenges on new PR and Social Media strategies. Engagement, talks on ingredients, chef tutorials makes a restaurant an extension of one’s kitchen. As Dubai grows, so does this industry and Samantha and her team have an upward struggle of maintain their weight in a never ending struggle while scoping out their competition.