22-tonne glacier ice arrives in Dubai after 20,000km journey; next stop, your glass

'Purest ice on Earth' formed over 100,000 years in the Arctic has been shipped in from Greenland


Sahim Salim


Waheed Abbas

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar
KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar

Published: Tue 16 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 16 Jan 2024, 11:39 PM

The world’s ‘purest ice’ has arrived in Dubai after an epic journey that saw the 22-tonne crystal-clear cargo sail 20,000km. Harvested from glaciers that formed over 100,000 years in Greenland, the ice was shipped via Denmark in nine weeks.

Photos at glaciers: Supplied
Photos at glaciers: Supplied

Khaleej Times visited Natural Ice factory in Al Quoz where the precious cargo has been stored in sub-zero temperatures.

According to Arctic Ice — which shipped the ice to the UAE — there has been a “strong interest” from restaurants and hotels for the product. “Our ice can be used for all kinds of beverages, drinks and food products. Some of our clients use it for beauty and ice baths, because it’s the purest H20 on earth,” said Samir Ben Tabib, chairman, international relations at Arctic Ice.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

“We have received pre-orders for the ice. We will do our due diligence and then proceed further. The ice will not be sold to everybody… Our exclusive product and the venue must match.”

The company has finalised the packaging, with deliveries set to commence in a month.

Tasting purity

The purest ice on Earth is stored just as regular cubes are.

The Arctic Ice executive said glacier ice melts slower than the regular one — making it last longer in drinks. “Our iceberg ice has little to no taste, ensuring it doesn’t alter the flavour of beverages as it melts, unlike ice made from tap or mineral water. With regular ice, you never know how it changes beverages, but with ours, the drink tastes exactly like it should.”

The ice has not been polluted in any way by modern industry, he added.

KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar
KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar

From glacier to glass

Tabib didn’t disclose the cost of shipping the product to Dubai or how much it will be sold for, but said it will be stocked at high-end restaurants, cafes, and homes of high-net-worth individuals.

KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar
KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar

The company has four founders, two of whom are Arctic engineers. The slabs were shipped in environment-friendly boxes during its 65-day journey.

Explaining how it is harvested, he said: “We do not take any ice from glaciers. Tonnes of ice break off glaciers every year during the warmer months. Our very limited production thereby has a very insignificant impact. It can be compared to taking 1-2 grains of corn from a giant corn silo.”

Each slab is carefully and manually selected and inspected before being lifted onto a production vessel using a crane.

Once harvested, the ice is processed and placed into food-approved insulated transport crates. After it arrives in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, it is packed into refrigerated shipping containers for international transport.

The next shipment

Depending on sales and orders, the company is eyeing the next shipment in a couple of months.

“We calculate everything in advance. We proceed slowly but safely. The aim is to ensure that the ice doesn’t melt and nothing goes to waste during the transportation process,” said Tabib.

The company is looking to reduce the time to transport the next shipment to five weeks by routing it through Germany instead of Denmark.

He added that Arctic Ice is building close relationships with companies in the Middle East and looking for partners in the region.

“Saudi Arabia is also a very interesting market moving forward. We have got interest from Switzerland and India. We are doing the due diligence to open up distribution worldwide.”

Environmental concerns

The company chairman for international relations categorically stated that its operation does not harm glaciers. “We only collect ice that has already detached from the glacier and floats in the fjords — ice that would otherwise just melt into the ocean. We aim to extract (a fraction) … of this ice every year — a very small amount, but sufficient to provide all our clients with the best product possible.”

The company also plans to incorporate hybrid and battery-powered ships into its fleet for further environmental benefits. “We aim to be 100 per cent carbon-neutral in five years.”

He said the company provides an alternative source of income for the people of Greenland, most of whom rely on fishing and tourism.

“We are not harming the local environment for people fishing and hunting in the area. On the contrary, we are giving them an extra opportunity to deliver ice to us on days with a bad catch.

“We have been granted a rare licence to export ice by the Government of Greenland. Our activities comply with all legal and environmental requirements, so we ensure a sustainable use of Greenland’s resources.”


More news from UAE