Drones, food tech valley: Dubai 'arid farm of the future' to launch soon

The emirate is exploring several innovative ideas to ensure food security in the future


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 8:39 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 May 2024, 5:19 PM

From drones that will improve agriculture to an entire zone dedicated to producing food, Dubai is doing everything it can to ensure food security in the emirate.

Three innovations in food production and agriculture were introduced at the Food Innovation conference last week.

Food Tech Valley, an initiative by the UAE government to address food security, will see an entire area in Dubai’s Al Warsan turn into a zone for producing food.

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“This is going to have a sustainable production of greens, veggies, fruit types like strawberry and berries,” said a spokesperson. “So when you have a 100% controlled climate condition, you secure a very high-quality product. It can directly feed the local markets. So this type of project is very unique in UAE, and especially in Dubai, it's the first zone actually for such activity.”

According to the spokesperson, the area for the project has already been set aside, with 30% of it already leased.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

The location is in central Warsan, about five to ten minutes from the central vegetable market, Dubai Municipality nurseries, and the Emirates Road, making it accessible.

“It is very accessible. The area has been levelled and the infrastructure is almost ready," the spokesperson added.

Entire Ecosystem

The valley will be an entire ecosystem, according to a blueprint exhibited at the conference. “It is not just about food production,” said the spokesperson, adding that distribution and other logistic facilities will also be available in the areas.

"There is also an area for food waste composting. Every step of the process will be taken care of," he said.

The farm has already attracted a lot of attention from both international and local companies, with one British company signing a deal of 1 million square feet. said the spokesperson. “We also have many local companies that want to expand.”

UAV Drone

Another innovation exhibited at the conference was a UAV drone that will support sustainable food production in the country. Displayed by Elite Agro Projects, which has the expertise to establish farms within challenging environmental conditions.

With the best technology available, these drones can do everything from drought monitoring and crop scouting to efficient use of fertilizers and precision agriculture.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Arid Farm of the Future

One model at the exhibition gave visitors an insight into what farms would look like in an arid climate. On this farm, water will circulate between greenhouses, aquaculture, and fields. Waste will be used as soil enhancers as well as animal feed.

Mushroom farming will play an important role as it will be used in supplements and medicinal product, apart from providing nutrition for human consumption. Retractable shade structures will provide much needed protection from sun and strong winds, thus yielding stronger and healthier crops.

Beekeeping will be an essential part of this farm, with bees as pollinators that will boost crop yield and quality. Honey production will also give farmers an extra source of income. For effective waste management, the farm will have a black soldier fly among other measures. The black soldier fly larvae will feed on food scraps and organic waste. This will produce feed for animals and improve the soil richness.


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