50 Best will launch the highly anticipated Middle East & North Africa's 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, with the awards being held in Abu Dhabi in February 2022, shining a much-deserved spotlight on the region as a world-class culinary destination.

The launch of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants will mark the first time since 2013 – when both Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants were established – that 50 Best unveils a new regional restaurants list and awards programme.

The event programme will be hosted in the UAE capital in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) from February 4th–11th 2022, as part of the Abu Dhabi Culinary Calendar, with the gala awards ceremony taking place on Monday, February 7th. The inaugural list of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants will be revealed in a live countdown, along with a series of special awards, culminating in the announcement of The Best Restaurant in the Middle East & North Africa 2022. The ranking will reflect the best restaurant experiences collated from more than 250 voters, made up of anonymous restaurant experts from 19 countries across the entire region.

William Drew, Director of Content for 50 Best, says: “We couldn’t be more excited to launch our new regional restaurant awards programme for the Middle East & North Africa with the backing of our host destination partner, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. The diversity of cuisines and rich gastronomic landscape across this wide region will ensure this new list is a vital addition to the international gastronomic landscape. We are delighted that Abu Dhabi will be playing host to the awards ceremony next year, as the UAE capital has been establishing itself as a culinary force over recent years.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with 50 Best on the launch of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants,” said HE Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi. “The time is indeed right to celebrate the best restaurants in the region, honouring the talented members of the industry and shining a spotlight on the region’s culinary gems. Abu Dhabi offers a diverse and inspiring mix of unique, experiential and world-class dining offerings in incredible locations and we are excited to be the host city for these very special awards. The Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards is an important addition to the high-profile international events Abu Dhabi hosts that are contributing to the changing landscape of entertainment and tourism in the region.” 

This launch marks a critical step in 50 Best’s continuous drive to inspire people to travel and explore, seeking out new culinary adventures, putting the spotlight on up-and-coming chefs and food trends, and showcasing the subtlety and complexity of various cuisines from around the world. The inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants event programme – including the awards ceremony and unveiling of the list – provides a unique opportunity to unite chefs, gourmets, and food and travel media from all over the region at a captivating celebration of cuisine and hospitality, while also promoting the culinary strength and diversity of the region as a whole to a global audience.

Highlights for the programme in Abu Dhabi will include the thought-leadership forum #50BestTalks and a series of collaborative dining events featuring leading chefs from across the world, as well as the best regional talent. Other events will include a series of live Chef Masterclasses, a Chefs’ Feast showcasing the finest produce and cooking from the United Arab Emirates, and the awards ceremony and countdown itself. Key events in the programme will be open to food-loving consumers on a ticketed basis, with further details revealed in due course.

In 2020, 50 Best pivoted from publishing its annual ranking and hosting live events to focus on fund-raising and supporting the hospitality sector through its 50 Best for Recovery programme, which included raising $1.29m with the support of its partners, including S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. 50 Best for Recovery distributed grants to more than 200 restaurants and bars and donated to a series of non-profit organisations in the food and drink sector. The evolving 50 Best for Recovery initiative will also see the organisation revisit a selection of grant recipients to highlight their stories. This year brings opportunities for positive change as the sector rebuilds and remodels itself with a greater focus on inclusivity and long-term sustainability. 50 Best will take the opportunity in 2021 and 2022 – with the launch of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants – to amplify diverse voices and positive messages, foster progressive discussion and cross-border collaboration, and encourage greater gastronomic discovery and exploration.