May 16, 2021

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Dubai launches a new park for food companies pushing vertical farming



Dubai skyline
Photo Credit: Clint Egbert / Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai will build a new business park to host specialized agricultural companies as the business hub in the Middle East pushes for food security.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched the “ Food Tech Valley ” initiative, which is a new initiative that aims to triple the food production of the United Arab Emirates.

The launch event was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai. His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, First Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of the Emirates Group and Chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs. Maryam Hareb Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food and Water Security. Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Chairman of the Protocols of the Vice President and Prime Minister. And Hisham Abdullah Al Qasim, CEO of wasl Asset Management Group.

The initiative aims to create an integrated modern city that will serve as a hub for food and agricultural products based on clean technology in the future and an incubator for researchers, entrepreneurs, emerging companies and industry experts involved in developing solutions that have the potential to shape the future of the food industry.

The new city will drive innovation and leverage collaborative networks to drive regional transformation and export knowledge about sustainable food systems globally.

It will support the use of applied technologies and research in food processing and agriculture and the application of modern farming techniques – such as vertical farming, aquaculture and hydroponics – to accelerate self-sufficiency in the production of fresh food and reduce waste of resources.

“Food Tech Valley is part of a series of projects aimed at preserving the food, water and agricultural systems of the United Arab Emirates in line with the National Food Security Strategy. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Food and medicine represent strategic sectors that help us ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for the next generation.”

Food Tech Valley is the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Food and Water Security and Wasl Properties to explore urban planning for smart and food-independent cities in the future. Equipped with the latest technology, Food Tech Valley aims to achieve the goals of the National Food Security Strategy 2051 and support a diversified knowledge-based economy.

Advanced farms

Food Tech Valley will host vertical farms, an advanced food smart logistics center, research and development facilities, and a marketplace. Driven by the circular economy model, the city will bring together companies, investors and researchers in an ecosystem for sustainable agribusiness to develop the latest in aquaculture and aquaculture technologies. More than 300 kinds of crops will be produced in the new city using modern farming techniques and the latest agricultural technologies.

With an innovation-based approach to food, the new website aims to boost local food production, diversify investments and drive research to align and influence future food trends and preferences. It will serve as a global hub for startups, SMEs and international companies with a wide range of experiences for knowledge sharing in the food industry.

The perfect timing

Maryam Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, emphasized that the launch of the initial phase of the Food Technology Valley is of vital importance at the present time as the world needs strategic projects to achieve food self-sufficiency, while ensuring sustainability and conservation of resources. Al Muhairi indicated that the initiative translates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to develop projects that will shape the future and build a knowledge-based economy based on innovation. The latest technology in innovation-based food security.

“The Food Tech Valley project represents an essential step towards enhancing food security and will serve as a global destination for expertise in the entire food ecosystem. It will also be an economic zone, which is particularly important given the size of the AgTech market expected to grow from $ 13.5 billion to $ 22 billion. Over the next four years, the project is part of our efforts to achieve our national strategic goals in relation to food security, as it constitutes an incubator for advanced farms – including indoor and vertical farms – with more than 60% of the project area allocated to these activities.

Economic, commercial and research

Hisham Abdullah Al Qassem, CEO of wasl Asset Management Group, said that Wadi Food Tech is a modern economic, commercial and research area in terms of its innovative ideas, advanced infrastructure and specialized role in supporting the smart future. Societies, and the diversity of options it provides to creative entrepreneurs, investors, start-ups, and small, medium and large companies in the ecosystem for food processing and production.

“The project provides an integrated legislative framework that facilitates the development of new food products and access to the market. The incentives and competitive services it provides enable investors to benefit from the local and global demand for the UAE brand and benefit from Dubai’s global commercial and commercial networks to achieve the desired growth.”

Basic principles

The city was founded on basic principles to create flexible legislative frameworks for the food industry, leveraging mutual cooperation and global trade networks to access markets, and providing prompt and comprehensive services to food processing companies in Dubai at competitive costs.

Food Tech Valley will be a vital center for applied research and development to support farmers and food production companies in the UAE and around the world.

It will develop new solutions to solve the multiple challenges facing the food sector, including the weak adoption of modern agricultural technologies, the shortage of a skilled agricultural workforce and the low competitiveness of local products.

Four groups

Food Tech Valley will be home to four major groups: agricultural technology and engineering, a food innovation center, research and development facilities, and an advanced smart food logistics center.

Technology and Agricultural Engineering Complex

The Agro-Technology and Engineering Group will have a vertical farm that uses the latest food technology to grow crops that are vital throughout the year for the smart cities of the future. The group will also focus on developing innovative projects in bioengineering, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence and supporting capacity building across the food ecosystem.

Food Innovation Center

The Food Innovation Center will provide an integrated agribusiness ecosystem to nurture promising ideas and support startups and entrepreneurs. The group, which will have a specialized food factory to produce new foods and second-generation restaurants (Restaurants 2.0), will explore a future model that applies the highest standards of sustainability and production efficiency to reduce consumption and waste of rhesus.

Research and development facilities

The third group will include world-class research and development facilities to train food professionals and support food establishments. The facilities will explore the use of agricultural robots to maximize yields and drought-tolerant crops. Professional researchers will also explore the application of 3D printing in algae cultivation and alternative protein production.

The research and development facilities will also study the use of artificial intelligence to monitor, analyze and manage agricultural crops, and to discover environmental impact and climate change. They will contribute to global food security research efforts by exploring successful saline agriculture, food genomics, agricultural mechanization, and the use of drones in food production.

Smart Advanced Food Logistics Center

The fourth group will feature a fourth generation food storage system that provides intelligent and automated logistical storage services.

The comprehensive smart storage system will apply blockchain and big data technologies in sorting, transporting and distributing various food products. It will track the quality, origin, ingredients, processing, storage and delivery of food to ensure efficient food supply chains.

Attracting investment

As an economic region, Food Tech Valley is a valuable addition to the UAE’s 1,250 legislations that support the agriculture and food production sectors in ensuring food safety, storage and transportation.

With food and beverage investments in the UAE currently amounting to 62 billion dirhams, Food Technology Valley will contribute to attracting more local and foreign direct investments in promising projects that help diversify the national economy, develop the supply chain and logistics.