For Starters - 7 Management

Interview with Rabih Fakhreddine, Founder & CEO of 7 Management

CEO 7 Management

Rabih Fakhreddine, Founder and CEO at 7 Management         

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To kick off Gulfhost’s For Starters Interview Series, we had an enlightening one-on-one with Rabih Fakhreddine, Founder and CEO at 7 Management. Read about the journey of turning an F&B concept into bricks and mortar reality, his approach to leadership and a snapshot of the hottest industry trends. 

Tell us a bit about how your company started and what it does?

It was while studying, that I first forayed into the hospitality business by investing in bars and restaurants. But it was in 2011 that my entrepreneurial career spang into action with my first bar Faces, located in Beirut’s centre of entertainment, Hamra district. I managed to juggle my corporate career and my entrepreneurial path, but I knew the time would come when I had to put my own vision first.

With the inaugural launch of Beirut’s Seven Sisters in 2015, I quit my job and founded the company 7 Management. Since then, 7 Management has been delivering stellar and unique concepts, including Sayf, The Theater, Antika, February 30, Café Beirut, Black Flamingo and Lucia’s, bringing together my two passions: exquisite food and top-notch entertainment all around the Middle East.

We specialize in creating knock-out, inimitable hospitality concepts. We currently have 12 innovative brands stretching across three countries. Every one of our venues has a unique, experiential story behind it. We create innovative concepts that are groundbreaking, unlike anything else in the market.

What are the biggest projects you’re working on right now?

  • Greece Bagatelle Athens

We are excited to foray into the European market this Summer 2024 with the launch of the iconic restaurant - Bagatelle in the prestigious Astir Marina, bringing the lively French Joie de Vivre to Athens. This marks our first venture into Europe, and we are thrilled to bring the first international concept to the beautiful city of Athens, Greece.

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  • Dubai World Trade Centre

We have been appointed as the new operator for an upcoming project at the award-winning, mixed-use development, One Central Dubai. This exciting partnership will transform the landmark One Central district - the home of Ennismore’s 25hours Hotel One Central - into a new urban lifestyle collective of dining and entertainment concepts, engaging year-round events and elevated experiences for residents and tourists in the city.

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  • NEOM, Sindalah Island

We are working on a very exciting project in Sindalah Island, located within the stunning coastal region of NEOM in Saudi Arabia. A luxury island which will offer unparalleled experiences to guests from all over the world, we will be delivering stellar hospitality experiences. 7 Management will operate seven themed restaurants in partnership with Joel Robuchon, set to open in Q4 2024.

  • Meat The Fish

Dubai's culinary scene is set to reach new heights with Dubai’s very first Meat The Fish, due to open in September 2024. Nestled in Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab, this is set to become one of city’s hottest and most highly anticipated launches made possible by the collaboration between NBL Group and 7 Management. Heralding a new era of global expansion for the much-loved brand that hails from Lebanon, the concept boasts various global locations, including Chelsea and London.

  • Em Sheriff

7 Management and ADIHH have partnered to bring the Lebanese brand Em Sherif Group to the UAE, acquiring franchise rights for Em Sherif Restaurant and Em Sherif Sea Café. The new branches will open in Dubai in 2025. Representing more than just a restaurant, this brand is truly synonymous with a legacy of tradition and excellence, both regionally and on a global stage.  

  • February 30 Pop-Up in Sahel, Egypt

Hailing from Beirut, February 30 has made serious waves on the hospitality scene in Dubai. Located on the bustling West Beach stretch, this beach club is buzzing day and night. In collaboration with Sol Beach, we will be bringing February 30 to the white, sandy shores of Sahel in Egypt this summer. We know it’s going to be a fantastic addition to coastal landscape.

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What does it take to see a concept go from an initial idea to opening its doors to guests?

First and foremost, it starts with a visionary idea, one that resonates with the ethos of 7 Management and aligns with the dynamic landscape of Dubai's hospitality industry. Once the concept is solidified, the real work begins.

Hiring the right people is paramount. This involves assembling a team of passionate individuals who not only possess the necessary skills and experience but also share the company's vision and commitment to excellence. Each member should feel empowered, supported, and confident.

Finding the perfect venue is another crucial aspect. It's not just about location; it's about ambiance, accessibility, and the potential to bring the concept to life in a way that captivates guests from the moment they arrive.

Design plays a pivotal role in shaping the atmosphere and identity of the venue. Working with the best designers, 7 Management brings the concept to life, infusing it with aesthetic charm and functionality. Whether it's sleek and contemporary or opulent and lavish, the design reflects the essence of the concept and leaves a lasting impression on guests.

Entertainment is the heartbeat of any hospitality venture, especially in a vibrant city like Dubai. 7 Management goes the extra mile to curate the best and most unique entertainment experiences in the region, from live performances by world-class artists to the best sets by international DJs.

Throughout the entire process, flexibility and adaptability are key. As the concept evolves and develops, adjustments may be necessary to ensure it remains relevant and resonates with the target audience. From refining the menu to fine-tuning the entertainment lineup, continuous innovation is central to the success of 7 Management's ventures. Resting on our laurels is never an option.

With so many hospitality venues in the UAE, how does 7 Management differentiate itself?

I am proud to say that 7 Management is a trendsetter, in the truest sense of the word. We set ourselves apart by giving every brand a unique story. Each venue has its very own identity, meaning, and values, which creates a connection with its guests. Innovation and a vast imagination are permanent tenants at 7 Management. To stay ahead, we consistently deliver original, knock-out concepts. This way we never have to worry about the competition. In fact, when people copy us, we take it as flattery. Because we set the trend, our brand DNA is never duplicated in other venues.

What are the biggest challenges you have to navigate to make an outlet successful? 

For me, the biggest asset to my business is the people and the same can be said for our biggest challenge. I have a motto I truly believe in “True leaders create other leaders not followers.” With this in mind, we are always striving to recruit and nurture teams that reflect this ethos. This motto isn’t marketing jargon but something my entire business runs on. We are constantly challenged by this and work tirelessly to not only recruit but nurture the best talent.

As a leader I believe in my teams and always strive to empower them, ordering them around achieves nothing for any of us. None of my ideas would have materialized if it weren’t for my empowered team whose opinions and input, are of upmost importance to me.

With so many moving parts of the 7 Management machine, it is imperative for all the departments to work in tandem. I don’t micromanage, I trust my team to do the job as if it were their business. We have regular meetings so I’m fully in the loop with what’s happening in every area of the company, whilst empowering them to make their own calls.

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What are the top trends you’re currently seeing in hospitality and foodservice?

Several prominent trends are shaping the industry.

Here's a snapshot of what we're currently observing:

Experiential Dining: Customers are seeking more than just a meal; they desire an unforgettable experience. From themed restaurants to immersive culinary journeys, experiential dining has become a key trend. Guests want to engage all their senses, creating memories that extend beyond the plate.

Sustainability: With an increasing focus on environmental consciousness, sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity. Consumers are gravitating towards eco-friendly practices, including locally sourced ingredients, reduced waste, and energy-efficient operations. Embracing sustainability not only aligns with ethical values but also resonates with the eco-conscious consumer.

Authentic Experiences: Amidst the sea of dining options, authenticity stands out. Consumers are craving unique experiences and for us this uniqueness is rooted in our unbridled authenticity – it shines through. Providing an authentic experience fosters loyalty and sets us apart in a competitive market.

Don’t Stop, Innovating: Innovation remains the beating heart of the hospitality industry. This sounds like a cliché, but it’s so important. We regularly stop and take stock of what is working and what isn’t. We reassess and pivot but never stop moving. Whether it's enlisting world-class entertainment to enhance guest experiences or pioneering new culinary trends, staying ahead requires a commitment to innovation. Embracing innovation enables us to meet evolving consumer demands and maintain a position of leadership in the market.

Where do you see the UAE market in the next 10 years?

The UAE's F&B and hospitality market is rapidly evolving. We are consistently raising the bar and attracting world-class concepts, accolades, and culinary talent. With its growing international appeal, the market has become a magnet for top-tier awards and prestigious Michelin stars, affirming its position as a global culinary destination. I am consistently impressed by the phenomenal, homegrown venues that now sit proudly on the global stage. It used to be that international brands were imported into the UAE, but now, the world is looking to us for inspiration and growth opportunities.


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