Singapore may be getting all the headlines as the latest destination for food tech, but another up-and-coming place to watch is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The country recently launched a major new food tech hub in Dubai meant to boost internal food security while also turning UAE into a global superpower for food tech. The facility includes laboratories, research centers, and prototype agricultural systems, all situated on a single campus.
Dubbed the Food Tech Valley, the project is the first phase of a wider initiative designed to assist the UAE with meeting its National Food Security Strategy 2051 targets. Among the Strategy’s goals are increasing food production and agriculture in the country, adopting more food technologies, achieving zero hunger in the UAE, and introducing legislation that improves nutrition while reducing waste.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Food Tech Valley at the beginning of May.
The facility, which was designed to physically resemble a head of wheat (see image above), is divided into four main areas:
- A dedicated area for ag tech and engineering will include a vertical farm as well as projects on bioengineering, robotics, and automation.
- A food innovation center that will function as an incubator for promising food tech startups and businesses.
- R&D facilities will be dedicated to a number of different topic areas that include making crops more drought-resistant, alternative protein production, 3D printing, and crop monitoring and analysis.
- A food-storage system aims to make food storage, distribution, and transportation more efficient through the use of more technologies.
The UAE currently ranks 42 among 113 countries on the Global Food Security Index, which grades countries based on the affordability, availability, quality, safety. and resilience of their food systems. The Index lists “agricultural research and development” as a major challenge for the country currently.
UAE is a bit like Singapore in that a lack of arable land makes traditional agriculture and livestock production difficult. While UAE isn’t quite as high-profile as Singapore in terms of food innovation, its entirely feasible that will change over the next several months and years. Already, vertical farming companies such as Vertical Field and AeroFarms are working in the country alongside local players. With the launch of the Food Tech Valley, many more companies, local and global, are expected to join.