With years of hospitality experience, Naim Maadad, the founder and CEO of Gates Hospitality is the mastermind behind several stunning culinary experiences in and around the UAE. Pallavi Biju catches up with the man for whom curating fun, fine dining is serious business
Hospitality is an industry built on offering attention and care to its patrons. So, it goes without saying that only a person with pure passion finds success in this space. Naim Maadad, the CEO and founder of Gates Hospitality, who has also been at the helm of many resorts and hotels around the world, is a person built with a certain caliber who fulfills all the requirements to the T.
With the restaurant business in his veins, courtesy of his family’s heritage, Maadad was able to pursue his dream from a tender age and admits that this passion for hospitality and the culinary industry was carved into his destiny. With his initial fondness for the culinary trade and finely honed skill at his job, his journey, thus far, has been tremendously exciting.
BUILDING AN EMPIRE
Established in 2008, Gates Hospitality has ascended to position itself as a leading hospitality company in the UAE, representing elite concepts that caters immaculately to its affluent guests’ lifestyles. With over 45 years in hospitality, 23 restaurant launches, and 11 hotel launches, the company also offers advisory services including hospitality guidance, asset management, pre-opening foundation, and day-to-day operations. It is firmly committed to developing world-class hospitality services and is keen on developing a suite of self-made F&B concepts while franchising alongside certain handpicked brands of restaurants both in the MENA region and abroad. Notably, in 2018, the company proudly franchised the Red Farm Restaurant to Covent Garden in London, United Kingdom.
The four principles that the company abides by are ‘Enrich, Engage, Belong, and Innovate’. Naim Maadad ascribes the company’s success to its strong brand ethos and pillars that they do not compromise under any circumstance. Every brand under the company is unique, offering authenticity rather than a run-of-the-mill experience. He believes that his tenure, having led several established hotels and resorts, has helped scale Gates Hospitality to new heights. Maadad says, “Every aspect of culture, heritage, business ethics, hospitality standards, lifestyle, and holistic approach has been imbibed in the formation of these brands which are varied, unique, and trendsetters in their own right.”
His brand’s international forays have helped him realize that an authentic concept that attains success in one region cannot be duplicated in another region, for it must hold its own inimitable appeal. The geography and topography of the place have to be a part of the hospitality experience that the customer receives. “The industry varies in each region by imbibing the uniqueness of that place and offering their traditional cuisine in innovative ways,” says Maadad. After establishing one of his restaurants in the shopping and entertainment hub of West London, Covent Garde, Maadad now aims to take his brand to other destinations in the GCC, Australia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UK, and the USA.
Although Gates Hospitality has achieved many accolades and awards by acclaimed platforms, the founder sees the company’s biggest achievement as the team that believed in the venture and took their first steps together in 2010, still part of its story and going strong. He affirms that this passion is what drives the success of any organization.
A brand-new feather in the cap of Gates Hospitality is them handling six venues at the large-scale and elaborately staged Expo 2020 Dubai. “We are extremely delighted to be part of the Expo 2020 journey, and it is wonderful to be involved in bringing never-seen-before brands to the vibrant city of Dubai – contributing in its endeavor to become the culinary capital of the world in future,” says Maadad.
POWERING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
The global pandemic wreaked havoc in every industry, and the hospitality industry was no exception, one of the worst-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Gates hospitality managed to overcome the obstacles through pure willpower, hard work, and innovative strategies. Staying firm and uncompromising on their business values, ethos, vision, and mission, they have been able to skilfully steer through the challenges and are now slowly starting to thrive again.
Through the isolation and uncertainty of lockdowns and quarantines, the company reconnected with its clients and well-wishers. They kept the ball rolling with events like online cooking classes, cookery boxes, online quiz nights, murder-mystery-themed virtual nights, and other engagements, which helped them stay connected with their business stakeholders and their loyal client base keeping them connected with the unmatchable Gates Hospitality experience. These events were highly appreciated by their customers and clients, and some even become hot-trends adopted enthusiastically by their competing brands.
As a part of their community efforts and to give back to society during the turbulent pandemic, Naim Maadad, along with award-winning author Flavel Monteiro, released the book ‘Come Together for India’. The e-book featured recipes from Indian-origin chefs from across the world and launched on August 15, Indian Independence Day, costing an affordable $5. All the contributions from the e-book were routed through reputable charity organizations like Dubai Cares and Vibah.org to India via the consulate. “We felt it was an apt way to reach out and support India in its efforts in fighting the pandemic,” says Maadad, who co-authored the book.
THE WAY FORWARD
As someone who has been a part of the hospitality industry for decades, Naim Maadad believes that the post-pandemic growth would imbue renewed passion and energy in the business, boosting it towards success in the times to come. In addition, Dubai is set to host many global events in the near future which will further drive tourism, thus expanding the hospitality industry. According to him, Dubai will be the “culinary hub” in the times to come and is buzzing for the exciting journey.
The hospitality industry is an ever-evolving and dynamic industry. Especially with the new trends in technology and innovation, the hospitality sector is set to grow leaps and bounds in the near future. Therefore, Naim Maadad’s parting advice to the new generation of people in the hospitality industry is to “strongly believe, be passionate and chase your dreams without giving up.”