UAE’s first female farmer has grown grapes, watermelon and more in the desert

The Abu Dhabi Awards winner encourages everyone, regardless of their land size, to engage in farming

by

Waad Barakat

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Photo: WAM
Photo: WAM

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 28 Apr 2024, 5:47 PM

Amna Khalifa Al Qemzi, the UAE’s first female farmer, started her journey decades ago when she sent nine baskets filled with various vegetables and fruits she cultivated in her own backyard to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president and the founding father of UAE.

Recognising her passion and talent, the then Abu Dhabi ruler ordered that a farm be given to her to continue her agricultural endeavours.


Today, Al Qemzi is recognised as a pioneer in organic agriculture. She was recently given the Abu Dhabi Award by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. Al Qemzi was honoured for promoting environmental sustainability and sharing her expertise with community members.

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The Abu Dhabi Awards winner has grown a diverse range of crops over the years, including tomatoes, grapes, figs, watermelon, red chilli, and more. She was able to source seeds from different countries, and plant them in the UAE. Al Qemzi did not restrict herself to winter planting but cultivated crops throughout the summer months as well.

Early beginnings

Al Qemzi's passion for agriculture began as a hobby during the era of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the twelfth ruler of Abu Dhabi. She recalls planting watermelon seeds and successfully harvesting them, sharing the yield with Sheikh Shakhbut for three days.

Impressed by her achievements, Sheikh Shakhbut remarked: "Our land is indeed blessed, as she - Amna - has tried and succeeded." These details were revealed in a video posted by the Abu Dhabi Awards.

Despite starting her agricultural project in a corner of her family's yard, Al Qemzi's diligence and passion enabled her to expand her farming enterprise. Impressed by her produce, Sheikh Zayed ordered a farm to be registered for her. This led her to cultivate an extensive range of crops, including figs, grapes, and over 70 varieties of vegetables and fruits.

In the video, Al Qemzi encouraged everyone, regardless of their land size, to engage in farming. "I encourage everyone who has an area at home, no matter how small it is, to plant. Even a farmer, when he sees his harvest, it brings him joy,” she said.

The video also showcased Ibrahim Al Hashmi, executive manager of the Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Culture Foundation. He described Al Qemzi as a symbol of "history, authenticity, giving, and generosity."

"She is unique. This woman should be considered a role model for future generations. She doesn't wait for others to create, she creates herself, thus she deserves it," he added.

Al Qemzi’s story was an example and inspiration for many young farmers and youth of the UAE. In the video by Abu Dhabi Awards, Saeed Al Remeithi, co-founder of The Organic Farm, said: "When I think of Amna Al Qemzi, I think of a pioneer in agriculture. She brought seeds from different countries and planted them in the UAE, breaking the norms."

He also commended Al Qemzi for her pioneering spirit in agriculture, which inspired him.

“As a farming enthusiast, when I think of Amna Al Qemzi, I think of pioneers in the fields of agriculture," he said.

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