Welcome to the Emirates Man weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businessmen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week, we speak to Mohammed Al Qasimi, Saud Al Qasimi and Hamad Al Obeidli, founder of the must-try food truck in Dubai, RARE. Designed for visitors to embark on a gastronomic culinary adventure, this food truck was born as the UAE’s first gourmet food offering with Japanese and Latin American-inspired cuisine.
Located under Al Wasl Bridge and opposite Al Safa Park, the visually striking food truck cannot be missed and this summer guests can savour RARE’s gastronomic delights from the comfort of their cars.
Guests can look forward to sampling exquisite signature dishes A5 Wagyu Nakkuru curated with high-quality ingredients such as Bluefin Akami Tuna from Japan and full-blood wagyu sourced from Mayura Station in Australia.
To understand more about their entrepreneurial journey in the F&B space, Emirates Man sat down with the founders to see what it took to create an unforgettable dining experience unlike any other.
What was your favourite subject at school?
MQ: Some of my favourite subjects at school were math (not at that time but growing up I saw its importance), art, and PE. I liked math for its logical and problem-solving aspects, art for the creative expression it offered, and PE for the opportunity to stay active and practice different kinds of sports.
SQ: Film and TV was my favorite subject in school. It fascinated me as it explored the perspectives of both producers and viewers. It was a creative and interesting subject that allowed us to cover new perspectives and learn about the art of storytelling.
HO: My favourite subject was Sociology because it interested me to study the human society and social behaviour, and to understand how individuals interact within different societies and cultures. This subject also reflected its benefits on my life specially during my studies in the US.
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What was your first job?
MQ: My first job was in human resources planning, where I gained valuable experience in workforce management and strategic planning. Currently, I hold the position of Head of Training and Development, where I focus on enhancing employee skills and organizational development.
SQ: My first job in the banking industry gave me a clear insight into how people think and behave, which has been invaluable in my career. Dealing with different customers on a daily basis taught me how to communicate effectively, understand people’s needs and expectations, and to provide excellent customer service. This helped me tremendously in my life and work, making it easier for me to connect with people. I’m grateful for the experience I gained in the banking industry, and I believe it has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals and build a strong network of people.
What brought you to Dubai?
MQ: Being born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, I have always been drawn to the vibrant city of Dubai. Its dynamic business environment, cultural diversity, supportive governance and numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth were the key factors that influenced my decision to build my career here. Being amongst the best talented chefs and restaurants in the world, we thought this is the perfect place for RARE to achieve its goal to stir up culinary traditions of having such quality meals only in Fine dining restaurants and bringing it down to the streets of Dubai.
SQ: Having been born and raised in the UAE, I noticed that Dubai offers a favourable environment for small businesses to thrive. Its diverse population, numerous opportunities and the ease of creating what you imagine make it an ideal location for many businesses to start.
HO: Dubai is the city of life. I personally believe Dubai’s standard is the highest in the world. In all aspects of life, not just F&B. There is no better place to launch such a concept. Being surrounded by some of the top restaurants and top chefs in the world, with an environment that supports innovation and revolution, we are here to revolutionize the dining experience. Dubai with its diverse population, bustling and vibrant streets, played a big role in shaping how we see the world. It taught us respect and appreciation for all cultures and backgrounds, and that every culture is beautiful in its own way. There is always something to learn from the people around you here, and what’s a better way to give back to the community than with a mouth-watering exquisite meal. Here at RARE, we combine flavours from two different parts of the world to give you the best of both worlds.
What inspired you to enter the F&B space and launch RARE?
MQ: I have always had a passion for food and a desire to fill a gap in the market. I noticed that while there were many high-quality gourmet dining options available, there was a lack of convenient and accessible gourmet food for people on the go. We wanted to create a concept that offers premium, gourmet food without the need for formal bookings or dressing up. Collaborating with the creative Chef Brando Moros, we developed RARE – Showcasing traditional Japanese grilling style known as Robatayaki, adding a South American twist to it, and creating distinctive and flavourful dishes using premium cuts of Wagyu and Japanese Bluefin Akami tuna aiming to elevate Dubai’s street food to new heights.
SQ: Our decision to enter the F&B industry and launch RARE was driven by our passion for food and the excitement of trying new flavours from around the world. Additionally, we recognized a gap in the market for high-quality food in the food truck scene, which inspired us to create our unique venture.
HO: Growing up, my uncle Saleh, had a passion for cooking and food. He loves grilling and cooking, and he would always host barbeques for the family and friends. He has a fine taste when it comes to food, and also has an exceptional standard when it comes to the quality and the source of the ingredients he uses. He’s been in the F&B industry for a while now, and he supported our idea from day one, providing us with so much knowledge and insight on the market, and he’s our number one supporter. We owe him a lot at RARE. Growing up around him, I slowly started building the same passion and curiosity. I moved to the United States after high school, and after a while, you get bored from eating out, so I had to learn how to cook on my own. I started experimenting a lot with cooking and grilling, trying new cuisines and flavours, and I got hooked and that’s where it all started.
Talk us through the concept of RARE and what are the signature dishes?
MQ: RARE is a culinary concept that blends two different parts of the worlds together focusing on Japanese style grilling adding a South American flair to it. Our menu features a selection of premium Japanese and Australian Wagyu cuts and Japanese Bluefin Akami tuna, showcasing the rich flavours and exceptional quality of these ingredients. Signature dishes at RARE include mouth-watering skewers such as Tsukune Yakitori, Wagyu Beef Tsukune and a selection of steaks including Wagyu Picanha, A5 Wagyu Nakkuru and the star of the show the MBS 9+ Chocolate Fed Wagyu Fillet all prepared with precision and served with unique Japanese-inspired ingredients, as well as the tantalizing starter the spicy Bluefin Akami Tuna tartare and the Buddha Bowl for a healthy and flavourful option, all of which are just a part of a bigger menu that you should experience the exquisite taste of.
HO: For a person to enjoy high quality fresh ingredients with well thought out recipes and elegant presentation, they should go to a fine dining restaurant. That comes with the hassle of a dress code, reservations, etc. We at RARE are adamant on providing exceptional flavours by using premium ingredients while still being accessible to a full range of customers. For this reason, we collaborated with Chef Brando Moros who designed the menu fulfilling our vision and mirroring the elegant presentation and sophisticated dishes you may find in Michelin rated restaurants, making it easy to enjoy on one of our tables, or in the comfort of your car or even by the gorgeous water canal. The concept revolves around quality.
Quality of ingredients, quality of cooking methods, quality of presentation, quality of the experience. You will always get to enjoy the consistency of the final product delivered to you. Without compromising on the quality, we are grateful for mother earth for what she has given us, and we are considerate of the sources of our ingredients, the cooking methods, and the packaging we use, all to minimise the harm to our planet. Sustainability is a core value at RARE. The concept is unique and we believe RARE will be a well-known name in the UAE and in the region.
What are the key elements of your role?
MQ: As managing partner of RARE, my role involves overseeing the overall operations of the restaurant. This includes developing the restaurant’s vision and strategy, managing finances and budgets, ensuring exceptional food quality and service standards, building and leading a talented team, and fostering strong relationships with our fellow restaurateurs in the UAE.
SQ: As one of the co-founders, my responsibilities include overseeing and maintaining our relationship with our customers either through our social media accounts or in person when being around the truck. We as founders of RARE prioritise customer and staff satisfaction and continuously brainstorm innovative ideas to ensure both are kept happy and positive. Listening to feedback is an integral part of our goal to maintain consistency.
HO: Currently living in NYC, I’m keeping up with the global food scene and market trends. Being here made a significant impact on my role. It allowed me to conduct in-depth research on food. NYC is a gastronomy destination and it’s a haven for food lovers, offering numerous Michelin-starred restaurants (fifth most Michelin-starred city), culinary institutions, and iconic local dishes. I believe it’s the best foodie city in the US; it has long held the title of global food capital due to its diverse culinary experiences. The city’s food trucks and cart vendors are an integral part of its fabric, providing fast and affordable options for the residents and visitors. The exposure to a wide range of cuisines, flavors, and culinary trends, provided me with an understanding of different cuisines and ingredient combinations. Also, the highly competitive nature of NYC taught me a lot of valuable business skills especially when it comes to customer service and operational efficiency. More importantly, I participate in weekly Zoom calls with my business partners to stay connected and informed.
Talk us through your daily routine.
MQ: During my daily routine, I begin the day by arriving at work and reviewing operational and financial reports to assess the restaurant’s performance. I then connect with the team to discuss strategies, upcoming initiatives, and addressing any potential challenges. Mid-day, I allocate time for physical exercise to ensure personal well-being. And lunch is always with the family. Throughout the day, I also dedicate some time to networking, staying updated on the latest culinary trends, and fostering creativity by brainstorming innovative ideas for menu enhancements and impactful marketing campaigns.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
MQ: For anyone wishing to enter the food and beverage industry, I would advise having a genuine passion for food and exploring unique concepts that address existing gaps in the market while also being careful with studying the idea and covering all major areas before stepping foot. Build a strong network, and continuously expand your knowledge and skills. Embrace innovation, be adaptable to changes, and always prioritize delivering exceptional experiences to customers.
SQ: One of the most important things to do when starting a business is to set clear goals for yourself. This will help you stay focused, work hard and motivated, and give you a clear direction to work towards them. In addition to this putting in the time and effort is essential to make your business successful.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
MQ: To be persistent and never give up on our dreams and aspirations. This motivated us at RARE to overcome challenges, stay focused on goals, and continue pushing forward even during the difficult times of the pandemic.
SQ: The best advice I received is to believe in myself and not let negative people or situations demotivate me. By maintaining a positive attitude and trusting my abilities, I can overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. It’s important to surround myself with supportive and encouraging people who will help me stay motivated and focused on my goals. With hard work, dedication, and a positive mindset, anything is possible.
And what is the worst?
MQ: We at RARE take all suggestions into consideration but implement only the best and suitable. The worst advise we received was to compromise on quality for the sake of profitability. In the food and beverage industry, maintaining a high standard of quality is essential for building a loyal customer base and sustaining long-term success. Cutting corners or compromising on quality can harm the brand’s reputation and erode customer trust.
What’s the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
MQ: One of the biggest challenges we faced was establishing a strong team and ensuring consistent quality standards. This involved meticulous hiring, comprehensive training programs, and fostering a healthy culture of excellence and continuous improvement. Overcoming this challenge required effective leadership, clear communication, and providing ongoing support to the team.
SQ: You can’t do everything alone. Building a reliable and trustworthy team is crucial to the success of your business. When selecting team members, look for people who share your vision and values, and who have the skills and expertise to help your business grow. By working together towards a common goal, you’ll be able to achieve far more than you could on your own. Remember to communicate openly and honestly with your team, and to show your appreciation for their hard work and contributions. With the right team in place, your business will be well on its way to success.
HQ: Creating a healthy working environment. We at RARE are one family and we believe having a healthy working environment, even if it means taking the longer route, is essential to prosper and succeed in such an extremely competitive industry.
What’s your future plan for the brand?
MQ: In the future, we envision expanding the RARE brand to multiple unique locations like this one across the UAE, catering to a wider audience of food enthusiasts. We plan to further diversify the menu by introducing rare and exciting seasonal dishes. We also plan to provide exceptional culinary adventures by hosting events in rare locations around the UAE exploring our beloved country. Additionally, as part of our CSR and to expand on just abandoning the usage of single use plastics, we aim to explore more sustainable practices and engage with the local community to make RARE a socially responsible and environmentally conscious brand.