USA: Dubai’s AWGAL in talks to purchase Texas cattle farms

Arabian Business – By Claire Valdini

AWGAL plans to invest in US burger chain Mooyah.

Dubai-based AWGAL Investments is in advanced talks with farmers in Texas to invest in cattle farms to produce Halal-certified US beef, its president and CEO told Arabian Business.

AWGAL plans to invest in US burger chain Mooyah.

The firm, which started operations earlier in the year, plans to invest up to AED50m (US$13.6m) opening three US-based fast food brands, including burger chain Mooyah, Dunn Bros Coffee and chicken-wing brand Wingstop in the UAE, said Zubair A Razzaq.

“We are probably going to be investing in our own ranches for American beef. We’re far ahead in negotiations and they’ll be reared in Texas for the GCC and MENA region,” he said.

“The appeal is simply the fact that people prefer American beef; it’s the best. We want Halal-certified American-approved beef,” he added, declining to give a figure for investment.

AWGAL Investments, which distributes and owns franchise rights for several US-based food and beverage brands, plans to open 15 Mooyah-branded outlets and ten Dunn Bros Coffee stores in the UAE over the next ten years.

It is also currently in talks with Wingstop to franchise in the UAE, said Razzaq. “For Mooyah we are building a restaurant now in Ibn Battuta for the first location,” he said.

“We are in discussions with Wingstop, a chicken-wing brand out of Texas and we are looking at a coffee chain called Dunn Brothers, we are in advanced talks.

“Over the next ten years, we’re going to make a concentrated five-year expansion plan per brand. The investment will be something north of AED50m,” he added.

The company is also in negotiations to invest in LifeAID Beverage Co to distribute its GolferAID, FitAID and PartyAID-branded drinks in the GCC and MENA region before the end of the year.

Dozens of mid-sized US fast food brands are eyeing franchise opportunities in the Gulf in a bid to bolster their revenues as increased competition stalls growth in their domestic markets.

US-based chains are set to open some 250 outlets across the Middle East over the next decade, as profits slow in their domestic markets. Brands including IHOP and Steak ‘n Shake have both debuted in the UAE market in the last year under tie-ups with local firms.

Dubai is the second-most attractive emerging market for retailers after China, in part because of high disposable income, according to management consulting firm AT Kearney.

Retail accounts for 30 percent of gross domestic product in the emirate, which is home to about 40 shopping malls, Standard Chartered Bank estimates.