Meals on Wheels: Is the Food-Truck Craze Hitting the UAE?

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The recent food truck phenomenon has thrust gourmet food on wheels into the mainstream and opened people’s eyes to the possibilities of eating delicious food out of a truck. It is estimated that nearly three million food trucks rove the streets of the world today, serving up everything from dim sum to fried chicken and honey-lavender biscuits. The movement, as we currently understand it, evolved from the global recession of 2007, during which time high-end restaurants were forced to downsize and lay off their culinary staff. Consequently, experienced chefs began opening up food trucks – an option that required little startup capital. Today, the food truck industry is valued at an estimated USD 1 billion.

The United Arab Emirates has been comparatively slow to adapt the food truck movement. Ghaf Kitchen, a boutique events and catering service operating out of a vintage Citroen H van and which avows itself as the first restaurant on wheels in the region, opened only this past April. In spite of that, the meals on wheels movement continues to garner the attention of resident foodies and people who appreciate creative culinary techniques.

Recently, much noise has been made about the SALT food truck, which serves up burgers at undisclosed locations around the United Arab Emirates. Like many successful food trucks before it, social media has played a huge role in the popularity of the SALT truck and in telling patrons where to find it. The brand, which does no advertising, relies solely on social media (@FindSalt) and more specifically on its hashtag #findsalt to attract diners. And with SALT’s 13,000 Instagram followers and counting, we’ve yet to see such excitement about mobile cuisine in the region.

From Al Bateen public beach to Hazza Bin Zayed stadium, SALT operates in a catch-us-if-you-can way, appearing at announced locations around the Emirates, offering up not only quick, affordable, and delicious food, but also an experience. “After launching the #findsalt campaign, we learnt about people’s lifestyle and what matters to them most. The locations chosen reflect the different interests of Salt, for people to enjoy a simpler lifestyle,” a SALT representative told Savoir Flair exclusively.

Does this mean food trucks could be the new flashpoint in the Dubai food sector? While strict legislation in the region will make the food-truck venture prohibitive initially, judging by the success of SALT we’re predicting it won’t be long before culinary trucks are roving the streets of Dubai. You heard it here first.

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