Food for thought
*This post is inspired by a conversation with a good friend.
My friends from Oman were in town this week and I was busy taking them around (does that excuse my absence?). We went on a serious eating spree, hitting most of Kuwait’s popular restaurants and cafés in less than a week. That’s quite an accomplishment because there are a lot of good restaurants here. In fact, I often argue that there are too many restaurants in Kuwait and here’s why.
A friend once said that the increase in restaurants is entirely normal, if not logical (words to that effect). She went on to compare Kuwait City to other capitals around the world, namely NYC, pointing out that the food industry is blooming everywhere. On one hand, her statement makes perfect sense. But when I spent some time thinking about her statement, it fell apart as a fallacy of sweeping generalization.
Although I couldn’t get my hands on enough information about Kuwait, here are some official figures about New York City (mostly from http://www.nycgo.com).
- The population of New York City was approximately 8,346,794 in 2009.
- The population of Kuwait City is approximately 151,060 (latest statistics). The population of the whole country is 2,595,628 as of 2011, including 1,291,354 non-nationals.
- Kuwait’s GDP, real growth rate: 2% (2010 estimate)
- New York state GDP: 7.68% (2010 estimate)
- Total international visitors to NYC in 2010: 9.7 million
- Total domestic visitors to NYC in 2010: 39.1 million
- Total visitor spending in NYC in 2010: $31.5 billion
- As of 2010 there were 23,499 active restaurants in NYC
- The average cost of a dinner in NYC (2010) including drink, tax and tip was $41.81 (that’s KD 11.5 according to the current exchange rate)
- How much do you think an average dinner costs in Kuwait?
- Is the growth in restaurants proportional to the number of residents and visitors in Kuwait?
- And for those who are not in Kuwait: does an increase in restaurants lead to higher rates in national obesity, heart disease and diabetes?
- Is the growth in restaurants a normal occurrence? Does it positively affect a country’s economy?
- How can the food industry evolve in a country?