The ruler of Dubai has laid out new plans to transform the city’s food production output, through an expansive new development called Food Tech Valley. The new plans aim to triple food production in the UAE’s second biggest emirate.
There will be four main clusters at the new site including a food innovation centre, R&D facilities, an advanced smart food logistics hub and a cluster dedicated to agricultural technology and engineering.
Commenting on the launch, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai said, "Food Tech Valley is part of a series of projects that aim to sustain the UAE’s food, water and agricultural systems in line with the National Food Security Strategy. Food and medicine represent strategic sectors that help us ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for the next generation."
The ambitious aims of Food Tech Valley
The new site is being described by officials as a ‘city’ - a nod to the sheer scale of the project. The ambitious, future-focused hub will focus on clean tech-based food and agricultural products. It will also provide an incubator for new food production ideas, offering support for researchers, entrepreneurs, startups and industry experts involved in developing solutions for current issues in the food industry.
Mariam Almheiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Food and Water Security said: "The Food Tech Valley project represents an instrumental stride 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 significant considering that the size of the AgTech market is projected to grow from $13.5 billion to $22 billion over the next four years. The project is part of our efforts to achieve our strategic national goals with respect to food security, as it constitutes an incubator for advanced farms - including indoor and vertical farms - with more than 60% of the project’s space allocated to these activities."
"The project features a food innovation centre that has been designed to resemble a head of wheat and will incorporate laboratories, research centres and prototype agricultural systems. Strategically located close to universities and academic institutions, it will support the R&D ecosystem and explore and deliver sustainable solutions around food," she added.
The development of smart food technology
A key focus for the new hub will be the development and use of new farming technology. The new site will be home to vertical farms, aquaculture and hydroponic sites, with the aim of increasing sustainable food production and self-sufficiency while reducing resource waste.
According to the team behind the project, more than 300 varieties of crops will be produced at the new site.
Food Tech Valley is the outcome of a partnership between the Ministry of Food and Water Security and Wasl Properties. The hub is part of a wider National Food Security Strategy 2051 in the UAE and supports the country’s goal to create a diversified knowledge-based economy.
Hesham Abdullah Al Qassim, CEO of Wasl Asset Management Group commented, "the Food Tech Valley is a state-of-the-art economic, trade and research zone in terms of its innovative ideas, advanced infrastructure, specialised role in supporting smart future societies, and diversity of options it provides to creative entrepreneurs, investors, startups, and small, medium and large companies in the food processing and production ecosystem."
"The project provides an integrated legislative framework that facilitates new food product development and access to the market. Its competitive incentives and services enable investors to utilise local and global demand for the UAE brand and leverage Dubai’s global commercial and trade networks to achieve the desired growth," he added.
Investments in the UAE’s food and beverage industry are currently around £12bn (AED 62 bn), which the new Food Tech Valley is expected to significantly boost through local and foreign direct investment.