Abu Dhabi halts new food truck trade licences

The Department of Economic Development has temporary halted new trading licences for food trucks in Abu Dhabi as it seeks to introduce new regulations.

The move is aimed at ensuring food trucks are regularly maintained and located in suitable areas, and will also ensure the market does not become saturated. It comes following several complaints from the public regarding poorly maintained and distributed food trucks, a department spokesperson told local media.

Authorities will reveal a number of terms and conditions which owners must abide by, the spokesperson said, explaining that the new regulations will be aimed at improving the business of food trucks, which have become increasingly popular in the UAE following a law that allowed the mobile eateries in public spaces and events.

In 2018 alone, 436 permits for food trucks, and 927 licences for food truck owners were issued by the department.

While it is not clear how long the temporary freeze on new trade licences will continue, the department said existing food trucks will not be affected by it.

The cost of setting up a standard size food truck in Dubai is around $36,758 (AED135,000) on average, according to the co-founder of Bespoke Trailers, a UAE-based mobile unit manufacturer and retailer.

In December last year, Jamal Wick said setting up food trucks which are smaller in size costs between $9,530 (AED35,000) to $16,337 (AED60,000), while rent space costs between $4,000 (AED15,000) to $6,800 (AED25,000) a month.

Wick founded the company in 2016 after failing to attract enough funding for a brick and mortar business. The lower capital investment required to start a mobile unit allowed him to establish eight food trucks in Dubai including meat concept Sir Loin & Sons and Cuban eatery Cubano.

“We saw a wave of food trucks coming to the region and we couldn’t afford to go on full brick and mortar investment with big real estate developers in Dubai, because we had no funding for it. We thought food trucks require low capital investment and they’re trendy, cool and hip,” he said.

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