Ramzi Abdallah, founder of Mystique Management, talks innovation, concept creation and the pioneering spirit in Qatar.
You have a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. What inspired you to make the move into the hospitality sector?
While engineering might sometimes be perceived as rigid, it also requires a lot of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. This aspect of my background helped me develop unique food and beverage (F&B) concepts, implement innovative solutions and stand out from the competition. Hospitality is a dynamic and rewarding industry that is never boring, I can assure you!
The journey started back in 2008, while I was doing my Masters, when I opened a restaurant in Downtown Montreal for a brand that was created by an innovative Canadian chef. I discovered that I have a passion for this business and decided to grow it when I moved to Qatar. The vision was clear, to redefine the scene in Doha and create unique concepts that either answered a need in the market or offered new experiences.
You started Society, MonkeyTale, Kaia and Glen House. What, in your view, is the secret formula for creating successful concepts such as these?
An F&B concept has a certain life span, yet, a company can last forever. We began by creating Mystique Management, which is a hospitality concept creation company that started in Qatar in 2013; it creates brands from A to Z – from design, to branding, marketing, menu curation, entertainment planning, staffing, the whole thing.
Every venue must achieve the ideal mix of location, ambience, entertainment offering and cuisine. That’s a given. However, keeping venues afloat requires a lot of creativity as the market requires trend-setting concepts with constant evolution, innovation, dedication and investment. Within each brand, we have segmented our offerings to appeal to a wider audience range. An example on this is Society, which has been in the market for the past eight years.
This illustrates a long time-span in the club industry, and it is still on the rise while competing with the best in the region, based on feedback from top international artists we have hosted through the years. While we believe that having a deep knowledge of the industry is essential for maintaining a venue, we consider that its long-term success is built on the core strength of the concept itself and the team behind it. We’ve also learned that guests are on the lookout for lifestyle driven concepts that are timeless and consistent. This is the common factor across all our venues. The inspiration came from renowned international brands and we tailored the offering to suit the local market. Our vision was global with a local adaptation and customer centric focus. The venues we created promise guests everlasting experiences that appeal to both residents and international visitors. Cutting corners is not an option as we appeal to the most discerning customers who are used to high standards.
With Mystique, you branched into marketing for both your own businesses and the wider community. How did you go about setting up in yet another area of expertise?
Recognising the importance of effective marketing, we founded a niche hospitality marketing and consulting agency under Mystique Management. The goal was to uniquely market our own brands at first and then it developed to extend support to other businesses in the market. Setting up Mystique involved assembling a team of skilled marketers, planners, creative designers and content creators, developing strategic marketing plans tailored to each business and leveraging our network and industry knowledge to create impactful campaigns. By branching into the marketing segment, we aimed to demonstrate versatility and a holistic approach to ensure the success of our own ventures and those of others.
Is Qatar a good place for entrepreneurs? And what advice do you have for any budding entrepreneurs in the market?
Qatar’s robust economy is promising and the country is always on the rise, providing ample opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive. Understanding the market and the target audience is essential to continued growth.
It is a favourable environment for those with innovative ideas and a commitment to excellence. Maintaining an ethical business approach, loyalty to clients and constant creativity and persistence would be the top key aspects I would highlight. ✤