A Touch Of Fusion At Dubai's Heart

    MEF conducted an exclusive interview with the Emirati partners Ghanim Al Qassim and Mahmood Alkhamis, Co-founders of Origami restaurant. It is a home style Japanese Arab food concept born in the UAE. This fusion of cultural elements in Origami’s innovative dishes and décor is a tribute to cultural similarity and to a contemporary, minimalist Japanese-Arabesque concept.

    Q: What Can you tell us about Origami Dubai concept?

    Ghanim Al Qassim: The vision of Origami was to create a concept that serves the highest quality Japanese cuisine in Dubai, infused with its own unique taste and ambience. 

    Q: What made you marry Japanese and Arabic food concepts together?

    Al Qassim: We obviously found a lot of inspiration in Japan and saw similarities between Japanese culture and our own culture. This idea is conveyed in our design aesthetic by combining Arabic and Japanese calligraphy as an example. If there is one thing that brings people   together it is food and culture which we see every day in Origami.

    Q: What makes you so good at what you do? What distinguishes you from your peers?

    Al Qassim: What distinguishes anyone from another is the work we put in. I think talent is one thing, but hard work and determination always pays off. We’re pretty resilient when it comes to adverse situations or problems. In addition, the focus on quality and consistency adds the unique experience at Origami. 

    Q. How do you fit in the MENA region F&B market and how much of the Japanese food lover scene do you occupy right now?

    Mahmood Alkhamis: We’ve done well in the last 3 years and we’ve seen a rise in demand for what we offer. We’ve had guests like his highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, as well as Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of foreign affairs dine with us at Origami. Let us not forget the famous Hollywood actor Will Smith and we got to the point where we had no choice but to open a second space. . Currently we have a loyal following and a “regular” oriented client base.

    Q. What’s your long-term plan for keeping the Dubai foodie attracted to your delicacies?

    Alkhamis: Our goal is to be authentic and always explore new flavours. We believe if we stay true to ourselves and do things we get excited about then our customers will connect with that and be excited about the same things that we feel passionate about. There is no substitute for authenticity and people have an instinct for authentic concepts and ideas.

    Q: You are planning an expansion with an ambition to conquer the Japanese lover scene in different MENA countries?

    Alkhamis: We’d like to see how far we can share our concept without pushing it before it’s ready. At the moment we’re taking it one step at a time. We’re enjoying the growth of our concept and moving forward at a steady pace where quality and taste of food will not be jeopardized.

    Q: Given that you work with experts in Japanese and Arabic cuisine, do you plan to open Origami in Japan?

    Alkhamis: Opening in Japan will be a dream come true. It’s also a bit intimidating. We’ll be in the country where we drew a lot of inspiration from and it will be interesting to  receive feedback from the birthplace of sushi. 

    Q: Would you like to combine other cuisines in the MENA region for the future?

    Alkhamis: Yes this is always an option. First and foremost we need to have an experience that we fall in love with. This is always a possibility when we travel. The world has so much delicious food to offer. And if we can be instrumental in connecting the world through delicious cuisine then that is what we will do.

    Q: What is the most annoying obstacle that you face today? How do you plan on overcoming it?

    Alkhamis: It’s always tough developing a menu. It’s a trial and error experiment and we sometimes need to make tough calls. We can’t keep everything we like, the menu would be too long. On the upside we get to work on the options that didn’t make it and perfect them.