Interview with Maha Ghalayini
Maha is an active Food Blogger, and is planning on creating a book based on her blog and recipes.
Please tell us a little about yourself, and why you decided to become a Food Blogger.
I’m a new mom trying to create something for myself while I’m at home with the baby.
I moved to Dubai in 2013, when I met my now husband and decided to start an Instagram page with the food I bake and cook, with all the new flavors that I was introduced to in Dubai.
I’m a Cypriot with Lebanese roots, now Living in Dubai, so the food in a way is similar in cultures, but Dubai gave me the opportunity to meet more flavors.
Back at home, I would always be the host, seeing my friends around the table enjoying the food I cooked gave me so much pleasure. I believe cooking is a relaxing way of art and you should always treat your plate like it’s a new piece you’re working on , I like quick easy recipes that look like something our grandma used to make ! I hope to one day have my own cookbook especially for people that work and want fast and tasty recipes.
What are your thoughts on the F&B scene in general?
You have a wide variety of restaurants, all cuisines covered, at least most of them, but maybe having too many in the one cuisine – which i think is the Asian, and I feel its impossible to try them all, because new places keep opening up, it’s quite extensive, but again the good gourmet venues are all mostly situated in one area.
What are the Top 3 factors that customers consider before choosing a place to eat?
Dubai being very popular with families, the first 3 factors would be:
Location near home, quality of the food, and the cuisine itself.
Once again, we face the same fact I pointed out earlier – most good cuisines are found in one place, and we are faced with many repetitive nearby.
How important are Mobile Apps and Social Media in the decision making process?
Social Media and Apps have helped the customer get a closer picture of the restaurant before even having to drive there, they can read the reviews, view the prices to see if it meets budget, and of course, view the photography – which many people are so drawn by.
In addition, the Apps now also provide the maps which are again another important factor for UAE residents, how far the place is, where they can park and so on.
The other side of Apps is the delivery, you can now with one-two clicks order your food and pay it, saving you time on the phone, repeating your address, and worrying about cash, even though many now also offer credit card payment.
How could F&B businesses in the UAE improve their service both online and offline?
Improving the F&B in Dubai, I would personally say, as someone who cooks, someone who comes from both western and Middle-eastern background – is the flavours.
You notice many cuisines being cooked with the same flavors and spices, and at the end of the day people want variety, that is why we choose by cuisine.
Another factor coming from a mom is working on the kid’s menu.
I have heard this point from more than one mom, who has had to take her children’s food with her, as the kids menu is usually chicken nuggets or spaghetti or pizza.
Also prices – if we can focus more on the customer service, staff being more aware of their menu and cutting on the price.
Online, not all restaurants provide menus, apart from the delivery restaurants, not much to say about online as it is doing way more than on-ground but in general we are still way more advanced in Dubai than any other place, and these are very minor changes.
What predictions do you have for future F&B trends?
My predictions would be, more restaurants for sure, more daring cuisines, more live cooking restaurants, and a lot of the food truck concepts since they are very fast moving at the moment, something with various food-trucks under one roof, also all old-style comfort food, basic food, organic is coming back. I do feel we lack bakeries open evenings something like you would find in Europe.
Where can we connect with you Online?
You can find me on my food blog on Instagram