Dubai’s virtual waiter startup Opaala sees a surge in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic



That’s what Opaala, a platform launched in Dubai by Giles Wright and Marwan Saab in 2019, can do.

Opaala creates bespoke menus for individual diners by offering their favorite dishes, taking allergies and dietary requirements into account.

“Opaala is (also) a virtual waiter,” Wright says. “Customers have got the menu in their phone, in their hand … They can ask for the bill, they can pay their bill, or they can put an order through directly to the kitchen.”

Customers scan a regular QR code, but Saab and Wright say it’s the technology behind the platform “where the real magic comes in.”

The duo call the platform a “dynamic menu.” By using AI and machine-learning, Opaala can track a user’s eating habits and create increasingly personalized menus over time.

The data is not only improving the user experience, say Saab and Wright — restaurants are using Opaala’s analytics to adjust their menus according to diners’ preferences.

One venue “built their entire menu based on our data,” Saab says.

The company has flourished since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and restaurants around the world turned towards contactless solutions.

“When Covid came along, a lot of people … took a hit,” Wright says. “But we found that Opaala was perfectly placed … we were contactless, we were paper free, we were smart.”

Saab and Wright say Opaala has spread to more than 350 venues in 14 countries, since it launched.

“Hopefully, give us a year and you’ll see us absolutely everywhere,” Saab says.


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