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Wed 11 Jul 2012 08:58 AM

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More restaurants set to close on Pearl Qatar

Restaurants have seen revenues decline by almost 50 percent after alcohol ban

More restaurants set to close on Pearl Qatar
Views of Pearl-Qatar

More restaurants on Qatar’s flagship Pearl development are expected to close as they struggle to maintain revenues amid an island-wide ban on selling alcohol, analysts have warned.

Restaurants have seen revenues slump by almost 50 percent in the wake of the ban, which has already seen the closure of several outlets and forced a number of operators to abandon plans to open new eateries.

“Restaurants that cannot easily adapt their menus and concepts to a clientele that appreciates a purely dry offer will only be able to survive a few months more. I feel sure that other restaurants will follow suit [and close down],” hospitality analyst Guy Wilkinson told Arabian Business.

Several international firms have scrapped plans to open new restaurants in the wake of the ban, which was introduced in January. US-based Ruth’s Chris Steak House said in June it was about to sign a deal for the Pearl-Qatar, but pulled out at the last minute when the ban was imposed.

“The volume of the expats [in Doha] is the bread and butter and we need to cater to them. Not everyone will like to have a $100 steak with a glass of grapefruit juice,” said Michael Szczepanski, general manager at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Address Dubai Marina.

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay closed down his Maze Doha restaurant in March, after just two years of operation.

Restaurateurs operating on the development said they had seen revenues decline as much as 50 percent in the last six months.

“In Qatar we are suffering – business has dropped almost 45 percent and unfortunately there is no indication about the ban being lifted. It is very unfortunate for us and for the entire Pearl [project],” Raffaele Ruggeri, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Italian chain of restaurants, Bice, said.

The sale of alcohol in the Gulf state brings with it certain responsibilities and restaurants that rely on the sale of alcohol may need to adjust their plans, said Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, head of hotel advisory, for MENA at Jones Lang LaSalle. “There are responsibilities that go with an alcohol licence,” he said.

“The case of The Pearl came as a reminder that there were lines not to be crossed. I am sure that the hospitality industry and the tourism authorities in Qatar in general will know how to find a reasonable and sustainable solution to the situation. In the meantime, the business plans of some restaurants on the Pearl might need to be adjusted,” he added.

United Development Company, the developer of the Pearl Qatar, did not respond to requests for a comment.

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Red Snappa 7 years ago

What message does this send to FIFA, who forced Brazil to change their alcohol sale laws to be able serve beer at the World Cup stadia, as that is a mandatory requirement for the host country.

The fact that you cannot buy beer in restaurants, on what will no doubt be a heavily frequented and focal island location for supporters dancing a conga down its streets, should have already set the alarm bells ringing at FIFA HQ, more so than the summer heat.

Silver 7 years ago

Yet another case of acting first and thinking later from the authorities.

procan 7 years ago

Red Snappa are the restaurants in The Pearl not frequented mainly by expats buy a considerable margin ? If so could a alcohol free area not be created to sustain this vital tourist area. Just askin eh.

SuperSport 7 years ago

Qatar has it is own culture & religion and I am not sure why people are angry about this. If they choose to impose a ban then so be it; corporations need to make a decision to continue operations or leave.

Saudi Engineer 7 years ago

Mr. SS,
I'm all for culture and religion. And I'm one of the first to support and even applaud any kind of alcohol ban.
BUT, a deal is a deal. You can't tell business owners that they're allowed to serve alcohol, and let them invest in the restaurants, and then change your mind with no prior warning.

Saudi Engineer 7 years ago

If we subscribe to the theory that Qatar bought or paid/bribed to host the world cup, then I'm sure the payment would have included terms and conditions about the consumption of alcohol.

I'm only saying "if"...

ppm 7 years ago

Read the news.... Blatter and co are for sale and Qatar has more than enough money to buy them.

PPM 7 years ago

If their culture were dictating this move then why would so many other venues in Qatar be legally allowed to serve alcohol? Seems it depends on who one takes as one's business partner more than any consideration of culture.

Business Man 7 years ago

What it says to the world is "Dont Invest Here, Try SE Asia"

Marco 7 years ago

guys u wake up the next morning qatar and dubai have new rules ! ...businesses have suffered alot they have put so many expenses that its even hard to survive if ur a self employed !