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Diageo drinks to the Middle East

Diageo drinks to the Middle East

We may be living in a dry part of the world, but that doesn’t stop alcohol from being one of the fastest growing industries, it seems.

December 14, 2010 3:29 by

Reuters this week reports that Diageo, the huge British drinks group, hopes to double its sales in the Middle East and North Africa over the next five years. The company reports that in 2010, liquor sales in the MENA region have soared 16 percent, with Gulf Arab countries contributing 44 percent of the sales.

“We strongly believe that the combination of global travel (retail sales) and Middle East and North Africa is set for growth,” said Jane Ewing, managing director for global travel and the Middle East at Diageo. “Key elements of the business can double over the next five years.”

Despite the conservative nature of many of the countries in question, economic and developmental growth is attracting an influx of expatriate labour, ensuring a healthy demand for alcohol in the region’s limited outlets. In addition, many countries have targeted tourism as an attractive business sector, and provision of alcohol to thirsty tourists is seen as essential.

For Diageo, Abu Dhabi in particular will be a core market over the next decade, apparently. Hugo Mills, general manager for the Gulf region proved as much when he said the emirate “will be a core market for us within the next 8-10 years”. See?

That’s if licensing will allow, however. A report earlier this week claimed restaurants and bars at a well known new hotel in Abu Dhabi are virtually empty thanks to the fact that it has yet to receive licensing. The five star Grand Millennium Al Wahda says it has been beset with problems in securing an alcohol license because of bureaucratic procedures.

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