What was the inspiration behind the new venue?
After thorough market research in Dubai, we thought this concept would fit the market perfectly. The Theater is a live entertainment, dinner show venue. It’s where East meets West and that’s where the idea first started. We believe Dubai has a lot of brands that cater for the Western clientele and at the same time a lot of brands that cater for the Oriental clientele. What we’ve managed to at The Theater is the best of both worlds. It’s the Oriental Moulin Rouge and at the same time the Vegas experience.
Socially the trend is shifting from the hardcore nightlife to the dinner and lounge experience, especially with Covid. The brand should have launched in January but due to the live entertainment restrictions we had to postpone. We’re witnessing that people previously used to go from one place to another, whether it was bar hopping or nightclubbing, but now the clientele prefer to have a full experience in one place and go home satisfied. One of the main strengths of The Theater is we have a bit of everything. We have a full line-up of the best artists in the region, whether it be Western or Oriental.
How important is the food?
We focused a lot on the dining experience. That’s why we brought one of the best chefs from London, he’s an ex-Michelin-starred chef. At The Theatre it will be Italian and Japanese cuisine – the best of the fine dining cuisines. Japanese is more for the people that are looking for nibbles, looking for sharing food, and everyone loves Italian so that’s why we gave a touch of Italian twist as well. As important as the entertainment and the food is the location. We are in the heart of Dubai, at the Fairmont Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. We firmly believes this is a legacy location, all Dubai knows it. We’re hoping it will allow easy access to all the people that want to come and try The Theater.
How did Covid affect operations?
Like all players in the entertainment and F&B industry, we had a big hit. Covid was aggressive in this regard, but we managed to be proactive. We cut costs and thought outside the box on how we can pass this phase and we are still here today – we managed to keep the company on its feet. Hopefully we are at the end of the tunnel and we can see the light, particularly here in Dubai. It’s no longer a regional destination, Dubai is now on the international map. When you say London and Las Vegas, you say Dubai, and that’s why international brands are expanding here.
What are your expansion plans?
We strongly believe Dubai is the place to be and that’s why 7 Management has an aggressive expansion plan. We’re launching six brands this year. The Theater is the first one. We’re launching Lucia’s a festive Italian concept at Address Sky Views. There’s February 30, a beach club which will be at the West Palm. Café Beirut, one of our homegrown brands, at Downtown Dubai.
We’ll also be launching BO18, a legacy brand from Beirut, at Media City, and a French concept called Le Rosé at Address Fountain Views. So quite a big expansion. We’re also expanding across the region. In Saudi Arabia we’re launching two pop-ups which are Antika and Café Beirut hopefully by Q4 2021. We’re also focusing a lot on Egypt on Cairo and the north coast, and we currently have Antika at the Kempinski Hotel in Qatar. We’re also expanding to Europe with our brand February 30 next year in Athens in Greece. I believe that Athens is a market that has a lot of potential, we will do a lot there across our portfolio. We also have aspirations to have The Theater in London and Las Vegas in the next two to three years.
How positive are you about the future of Dubai?
As a person I’m very optimistic in general. The pandemic was a hard time on everyone, the uncertainty was high, so we had to always give the positive energy to everyone. Dubai is a positive place to be – I personally consider it as my second home as I relocated here post-Beruit’s explosion and I brought my family here because I believe that Dubai is the place to be. I truly believe in Dubai’s vision that in 2040 it will be the best city in the world to live in. The people in Dubai can feel it already and our industry specifically will have a big boom in Dubai. It’s a destination and everyone is coming here so I will be managing the regional expansion of 7 Management from here.