Interview: Jad Matta
Enjoying the nightlife scene in the UAE is not just a pastime but a necessity in order to meet new people. Partying has become the new networking and with exclusive venues like PEOPLE by Crystal at Raffles Hotel Dubai it’s never been so sophisticated or fun!
So popular is PEOPLE it played host to Ahlan!’s very own Hot 100 Bars & Clubs party where guests included the crème de la crème of the region, and also Hollywood with Jade Jagger making an appearance.
The uber-chic venue is part of the renowned Crystal Group, who look after some of the most amazing nightlife venues in the Middle East. At the helm is general manager Jad Matta, who oversees the whole operation in Beirut and Dubai.
If the crowds at our Hot 100 party were anything to go by, Jad is at the top of the game, though the modest businessman from Lebanon insists he’s not there just yet, claiming, “I haven’t reached my career high yet,” though hinting at something more spectacular to come he adds, “but hopefully soon…”
Jad is clearly proud of his brands. “I look after PEOPLE in Dubai,” he says before explaining the venue’s characteristic design. “At C Bar we were a little limited in terms of architecture, however, with thanks to the Raffles Hotel architecture, we were able to unblock and unleash our creativity and make the best of what the last two floors offered.”
While Jad’s helping shape the nightlife scene in the Emirate, his career journey, before setting up Crystal Group with his partner Mazen el Zein in 2004, was eclectic.
“The first job I undertook only lasted for two days in the kitchen of a hotel,” he reminisces, “but I realised I didn’t belong so I was appointed waiter and it worked very well for me; this experience gave me a better understanding to client servicing.”
Three months later he was again promoted to assistant manager of an open bar in the mountains of Beirut, getting his first taste of the nightlife industry. “I soon became the club’s manager and this is where I got the opportunity to start my small event management company.”
Adding, “Following its success I started partnering with other clubs until I partnered in a beach club in the South of Lebanon, it was the first beach club concept but unfortunately it only worked the first year. After that, I moved to Kuwait to work with American Food Company where I was exposed to the corporate world and one year later I was approached by my actual partner Mazen el Zein...”
Recalling the hardest parts of his journey, he says, “In Beirut the biggest obstacle is the country’s instability on all levels (financial and political); yet, the Lebanese have always managed to overcome political issues. In Dubai the biggest obstacle was the financial downfall, but we managed to overcome and control it.”
Despite Crystal Group’s already apparent success, Jad insists it’s going to continue to get bigger and better – “Our aspirations are to expand the Crystal Group to become a multinational hospitality services company and have a strong presence worldwide.”
Asked who his idol is he admits, “Mark Zuckerberg, because he managed to gather 3.5 million people in a virtual club without being physically there.”
Though not one to sit back and admire others, Jad aims to be bringing the millions to his clubs, and with PEOPLE just a taste of what’s to come we’re certain he’ll match his idol.
Jad Matta's top 5 places
La Petite Maison, Dubai For the simple cuisine and fresh ambiance.
Al Quoz Industrial Art Galleries, Dubai The talents exposed are breathtaking.
Caramel Bar, Dubai Good food and nice atmosphere.
Jumeirah Beach Club, Dubai For the cosmopolitan crowd.
Al Qasr Hotel Majesty of the hotel along with excellent service.