Gulfood 2023: The UAE’s biggest annual F&B event

Gulfood 2023: The UAE’s biggest annual F&B event

- Ankit Anand

February 20th, 2023 sees the return of the Gulfood event to Dubai. The exhibition which is the largest annual food and beverage (F&B) sourcing event in the world, will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre between the 20th and 24th of February and will showcase over 500 major global brands from 125 countries.

It is a unique opportunity for aspiring chefs, up and coming food and beverage businesses and established brands to demonstrate their skills, present their products and make valuable business connections.

The event brings together many of the major figures in the F&B industry and provides a platform to learn about new industry trends, witness some of the world’s best culinary talents in action and hear from industry experts who will discuss major themes influencing the future of the food and beverage industry.

What to expect

As well as the exhibition itself, there are several events which are taking place over the exhibition’s five-day period. These will provide local businesses and F&B service providers with insights into new industry trends, the chance to source new products, networking opportunities with government associations and leaders in the F&B industry, and the chance to witness Michelin star chefs sharing their culinary techniques and industry experience.

What events are there?

Gulfood Youth X

Youth X is a competition that brings together young, talented chefs from leading international hotels and restaurants and gives them a platform to showcase their skills to a wider audience.

The competition, which consists of three phases, began in October last year with a casting, followed by regional finals. It culminates on 23rd February, with the international finals at Gulfood, where the winning team will be announced.

The four finalists are from leading international hotels and will be challenged to prepare a three-course menu in 60 minutes, using a range of sustainable ingredients. They will be judged on their ability to demonstrate sustainability and zero waste in their dishes as well as presentation and taste.

Gulfood Inspire

Gulfood Inspire brings together thought leaders, innovative entrepreneurs, renowned chefs and industry commentators to have open discussions around four main themes: E-commerce, zero waste, Gulf food change makers, and women leaders and chef talks.

Some of the topics which will be discussed over the 5 days include:

  • What does sustainable food production look like?
  • Food sovereignty vs food security
  • Nutrition education
  • Balancing profits with feeding the planet in tumultuous times
  • Setting up an F&B business in Dubai – Why and how
  • Alternative protein power, promise and plight
  • Making the dairy industry less carbon intensive
  • The alternative seafood wave: Challenges and opportunities in the global protein transition
  • Health, nutrition and diet trends and evolution
  • Investing in Saudi Arabia’s bright food future
  • Food regulations and food safety systems in Dubai
  • Digital solutions and ecosystems allowing SMEs to access international food markets
  • Metaverse opportunities and initiatives for F&B businesses
  • Foodtech startups Dragon’s Den
  • Growth and opportunities in cultural and religious diet sectors

These presentations, roundtables and interactive segments will provide a fantastic chance for UAE investors to obtain important insights into current trends in the F&B industry, the challenges facing businesses and where opportunities are likely to open up in the future.

Gulfood Green

This is a new global sustainability initiative, which aims to use the platform that Gulfood has to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable food production and consumption and generate momentum towards a shift in food production systems and practices.

Part of this initiative is Gulfood Forest, a global tree planting campaign. The first four locations chosen for this project are the UAE, Uganda, Ecuador and Indonesia and it is hoped that the fruit-bearing trees that will be planted will help to support local communities and enable them to become self-sufficient.

Top Table

This is a key feature of the Gulfood event and will see world famous chefs from diverse food communities showcasing their latest dishes and giving the public a glimpse of some of the food trends that are expected to emerge into the wider market over the coming months and years.


This section of the event explores how technology is influencing the F&B industry.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see how Web 3.0, the third phase in the evolution of the internet, is changing consumer habits and innovating the industry.

Visitors can learn about real-life applications of the metaverse and participate in one-to-one workshops with crypto experts on blockchain, deep-tech and NFT’s.

Gulfood Meetings Programme

This is perhaps the best part of the event for aspiring and up and coming F&B service providers. It is a one-to-one business networking tool that matches businesses and individuals with complementary skills or business objectives to help them further their businesses.

The meetings programme team help you to schedule meetings before and during the event so that you can get the most from your time at the event and connect with the right people.

How do I set up a F&B company in UAE?

The chosen type of formation will depend on how the company will be setup. The formation type will depend on who the company is working with and a number of other factors, but in most cases it is best considering setting up either an LLC or Foreign Branch in the mainland. However, there is also the option to setup a freezone company, in freezones which may specialise in specific company and activity types.

A general guidance on the options available to setup a company in UAE, you can consider the options of either a mainland setup or freezone setup. Mainland benefits include, direct access to government departments in UAE, and the ability to directly sell products to UAE. However, it is also possible to setup a freezone company, in freezones which may specialise in specific company and activity types. Companies in freezones are restricted to work within the freezone itself or with International clients. Mainland Setup can either be 100% foreign owned, or in some cases may still require a local shareholder. A freezone setup will allow 100% foreign ownership. In both cases, there might be certain external approvals required depending on the activity required.

What are the steps to set up a UAE F&B company?

  1. 1. Identify the correct location, jurisdiction and activity – Mainland, Freezone, Abu Dhabi, Dubai etc
  2. 2. Prepare the legal constituent documents – MOA, POA, Board Resolution and POA if required
  3. 3. Trade Name Reservation and Initial Approval with the relevant licencing authority – DED for mainland or Freezone Authority
  4. 4. Notarising the Memorandum of Association (MOA) – mainland setup
  5. 5. Obtain lease agreement / commercial space rent that conforms to licence requirement – Ejari or Tawtheeq for mainland , Freezone office space for companies setting up in a Freezone
  6. 6. Regulatory approvals relevant to the activity and location, such as from Dubai Municipality
  7. 7. Obtaining the Trade Licence and Commercial Registration.

For a more detailed bespoke step plan and specific requirements related to the individual jurisdiction please contact a member of the PRO Partner Group Team below.

Final Thoughts

If you are currently working in the F&B industry or considering setting up a new food and drink business in the UAE or GCC region, this is an event that you can’t afford to miss. Many exhibitors use the event as a launchpad into the market, and by gathering together everyone in the F&B community in the UAE under one roof, it provides a great opportunity to make valuable connections and take advantage of the huge number of partnership and sponsorship opportunities on offer.

How can PRO Partner Group help?

If you’re considering setting up an F&B Business in the UAE, we can advise you on the best licence for your business, help you obtain all required government approvals, product registration and process all work visas and other documentation on your behalf.

If you need assistance with this or any other related onshore or offshore company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman, Qatar or KSA, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

Share this article

Expert Advice

Book a call with one of our company formation specialists.

Please enter a message

Meet the Pro Partner Group team,
a vastly skilled and experienced UAE team