UAE. The annual Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Conference & Awards began last night with an unforgettable opening cocktail party hosted by Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) & Maritime Mercantile International (MMI).

Organised by The Moodie Report and sister title The Foodie Report, and hosted by Dubai Airports, FAB is a showcase for the best in travel-related food & beverage.

The event is being held at Atlantis The Palm hotel and leisure resort in Dubai, hosted by Dubai Airports.

Last night’s opening evening saw the Atlantis’s Ossiano Restaurant decked out in amazing themed style, featuring key brands and concepts represented by ELR and MMI at Dubai International’s new Concourse A – Jack Daniel’s (including the Middle East launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey), Heineken, Moët & Chandon and Le Clos wines. The latter is an acclaimed luxury wine & spirits offer at Dubai International.

The Ossiano offers spellbinding views of the Ambassador Lagoon aquarium and its 65,000 marine animals. But last night the giant water tank featured two more talking points – a mermaid (pictured, one of just four in the world) and a giant FAB logo.

ELR & MMI Group CEO Andrew Day welcomed delegates, stressing the company’s ambitions in airport food, beverage and retail and underlining the importance of FAB in championing excellence and raising standards in the sector.

Earlier in the day, around 50 of the 170 delegates visited The Majlis Dubai camel farm. The brand has introduced camel milk chocolate plus a coffee café concept with great success, including a strong presence at Dubai Duty Free.

FAB 2013 has attracted senior representatives from the world’s leading airports, railway station operators and F&B concessionaires to network with their industry peers, share insights and celebrate excellence in this fast-growing sector.

Tonight the FAB awards will be announced, recognising best practice in airport food & beverage.

We’ll bring you more pictures over the next two days, plus a full report in The Moodie Report Print Edition, out later this month.

ELR & MMI Group CEO Andrew Day welcomes delegates to a memorable opening evening
Absolutlely FAB-ulous: A mermaid joined 65,000 aquatic animals to open FAB 2013 in unforgettable fashion
The Moodie Report Chairman Martin Moodie thanks Emirates Leisure Retail & MMI for their superb, unique hospitality
ELR Chief Commercial Officer Kevin Zajax toasts the Middle East launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
(Above and below) Decked out in style: The opening event showcased ELR & MMI’s brand portfolio to stunning effect
Now that’s the way to serve Moët & Chandon
Vintage moments: Martin Moodie and ELR’s Kevin Zajax get ready to sample the best that Le Clos (below) has to offer
What a venue for FAB 2013: Atlantis The Palm Dubai is one of the world’s great resort hotels
Earlier in the day delegates enjoyed a memorable trip to The Majlis Dubai camel farm, source of the world’s first camel milk chocolate
The Moodie Report President Jaclyn Wampler (left) and Vice President Sales & Events Sarah Genest enjoy the day out