Interview

FACT Chats: Noor Badaro, Director of Brand and Communication at Play Dining Group


Renowned for setting benchmarks in the industry, Play Dining Group’s arrival in the UAE with their flagship venue was poised to elevate the dining experience several notches. It introduced its 3 pillars, which outlined dining, entertainment, and celebration as the core to the brands foundation. PLAY then delivered a venue that redefined the balance between elite dining, artistic entertainment, and nightlife with a first-of-its-kind mainstream dinner show entertainment concept. We caught up with Director of Brand and Communication, Noor Badaro to find out more.


Could you please tell us about Play Dining Group and why it’s seen as one of the leading restaurant operators in Dubai?

Play Dining Group was founded with the goal of elevating the success of PLAY into a tangible recipe that could be formalised and replicated. One of our core tenets and focal points of pride is that we are a local UAE entity. From the original PLAY restaurant lounge concept to the merging of entertainment, we have continuously broken barriers. Dedicated to the evolution of ideas, Play Dining Group’s goal has always been to elevate luxurious dining, day life as well as celebratory experiences for their customers. PLAY has continuously been a pioneer in practice and was the first F&B lounge in the UAE to break the barrier between dining and nightlife. In essence, PLAY transformed the new norm of fine dining and shattered traditional taboos of dining out past 10pm. PLAY’s philosophy in its conception was to welcome customers from all walks of life that commonly strive for a one-of-a-kind nightlife extravaganza perfectly paired with refined gastronomical expeditions. 


We’ve heard that Play is expanding with new openings in Los Angeles, London, Maldives, Jeddah, and Riyadh. What should we be excited about in the coming months?

Evolution is the key to being a trendsetter in any market. With this ethos in mind, we are not content to merely sit on our existing success therefore, we are working on some very exciting initiatives with strategic partners that extend beyond F&B.

Play Dining Group

What differentiates Play from other ‘dinner and a show’ concepts in the region?

The primary point in separation is that PLAY’s entire identity, from its owners to formulation, is a UAE homegrown concept. From its inception, PLAY was the homegrown pioneer that not only started but surpassed the ‘dinner and show’ concept by operating as a restaurant/lounge with a global entertainment element standard. To ensure this standard of service we have worked with international brands such as Nu’art who created shows for Louis Vuitton, Versace, Medusa Cannes and more to act as a point of reference and comparison for continuing levels of performance excellence. 


What do you think it is about the concept that has resonated so much with diners in Dubai?

We don’t look at our patrons as diners. We look at them as friends and with this philosophy, we proceeded to elevate the dining experience to another level. We transformed the entire gathering social element and made it accessible regardless of proximity and/or if people were sitting at different tables. Our goal was to institute a revolutionary method of the social gathering flow that promotes a feeling of togetherness instead of isolation, which further enriches the overall experience.

Play Dining Group

How do you strike a balance between the brands three pillars – day life. luxurious dining and nightlife experiences?

The day life division is currently being developed and will be launched soon. One of our key practices is to set up each division autonomously where it acts as its own company. We believe centralising creativity is detrimental and negates the creative flow and ultimately, we want to guarantee that all our divisions are operating at their maximum effectiveness.


What do you believe restaurants and nightlife venues have to do to ensure success during these unprecedented times for the industry?

The revenue focus should be secondary in the grand scheme of things and serve as a byproduct of your long-term goals. This industry is about passion and creativity and that should be the primary focus. If that succeeds, then that pays off, and if it doesn’t, you’ll have to re-evaluate your creative formula or try something new. This industry is not for everyone.

Play Dining Group

What would you say sets Play Dining Group apart from your competitors in the marketplace?

The core of The Play Dining Group’s success ultimately stems from its identity as a native brand of the United Arab Emirates. Every facet of Play Dining Group’s structure, from its local shareholders to inherent pride for its nation, has aided in crafting Play Dining Group’s trendsetting philosophy. Our focus lies in our creativity of execution towards both the culinary and overall experience. We invest a legitimate amount of time and resources towards ongoing research and development to ensure that we maintain our status as pioneers/trendsetters in the industry.


Finally, please could you talk us through the expansion plans for Play Dining Group in next five years.

We have several exciting endeavours that are currently in the preparation and development phase that will be announced very soon.


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