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Restaurants and food service in GCC - statistics & facts

The global restaurant and foodservice industry is worth around 34.25 billion U.S. dollars and is estimated to grow to 56.3 billion U.S. dollars by 2027. According to estimates for 2020, the worldwide number of foodservice establishments was around 23.13 million. Only around 300 thousand of those were based in the Middle East and Africa.

Importance of the food service industry in the GCC region

Going out to eat is an important part of socializing and spending leisure time outside the home in Middle Eastern culture. This is slightly different from other regions where bars, clubs, and dancing establishments are important places for socializing. Almost 40 percent of foodservice establishments in the Gulf Cooperation Council region are quick service or fast-food restaurants. In contrast, just 6.5 percent are lounges and bars.

The United Arab Emirates as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led in the number of restaurants and eateries in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. The sales value of restaurants in the United Arab Emirates was estimated to grow to 7.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2022. The majority of customers in the United Arab Emirates spend less than 14 U.S. dollars on their food order, making it comparatively affordable to eat out frequently.

Impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic impacted the worldwide gastronomy sector. In the Gulf Cooperation Council region, it led to a major paradigm shift from eating out to ordering in. The frequency and value of food orders as well as the usage of food delivery apps have seen a surge during the spring of 2020, while lockdown rules were mandated in the region. The leading food delivery apps in the United Arab Emirates for example were Talabat, Deliveroo, and Careem NOW. It is expected, that the popularity and the use of food delivery apps will continue even after the end of the safety measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.


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