Watch: How strawberries, wheat and tomatoes are grown in the desert, UAE minister explains in German

Mariam AlMheiri elaborates how the UAE is harnessing technology to ensure food security and address the challenges of climate change


Angel Tesorero


Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Published: Fri 12 May 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 14 May 2023, 10:58 AM

Using her fluency in the German language, Mariam AlMheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, explains how the UAE with only little arable land and scarce water supply is cultivating crops and supplying staple food in local supermarkets.

“You can now eat blueberries, strawberries, quinoa all year long in the UAE. You can find them in groceries fresh, and they taste so well,” AlMheiri speaks in straight German.

The video is obviously intended for the German-speaking audience as it was produced by the UAE Embassy in Berlin, and AlMheiri is articulating her points in German. The minister also shares in the video her lineage – her mother is German and father is Emirati. She learned German from her mother and further honed her language skills when she studied at RWTH Aachen University in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

The video is also about the growing UAE-Germany relations, as AlMheiri shares: “I can speak English, Arabic and German and I would be the perfect candidate to bring Germany and the UAE closer together.”

And the main point of the 11.30-minute video is how the UAE – with only five per cent arable land and 100mm of rainfall annually – is harnessing technology to ensure food security and address the challenges of climate change.

At the UAE’s International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), where the documentary was filmed, AlMheiri shares with the host named Ahmed how the country is cultivating crops that are resource‐efficient, climate‐resistant and best suited to a region affected by salinity and water scarcity.

Achieving food security

Driving her point, AlMheiri and the host enter a greenhouse where rows of tomatoes are grown in the middle of desert. “We have for years worked on achieving food security,” AlMheiri underlines.

One of UAE’s effective farming methods is efficient use of limited supply of water – it is recirculated and used several times in most farms.

“We use technologies from outside the UAE and adapt them here,” says AlMheiri, adding: “It has not been easy but in the past 3 or 4 years we have made giant leaps to what we can grow here.”



As the UAE improves its farming technology, it also works on sharing knowledge with other countries. “Our objective is to export these technologies to other countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia,” says AlMheiri, underscoring: “Partnerships are very important to us.”

In the same video, AlMheiri also talks about meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz who visited the UAE in September last year, and how they planted mangroves together last year as part of the UAE’s mission to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030. AlMheiri also invites anyone who will visit the UAE to go kayaking through the UAE’s vast mangrove forests and see for themselves the thriving marine ecosystem.

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