The United Nations have suggested that there will be a water scarcity soon, projecting concern for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), where only 5 percent of the total land area is arable. The dry climate necessitates irrigation for about 40 percent of this arable land, with little scope for sustainable food and water security.
To address these limitations, the UAE has developed a resilient supply chain of imports, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of its food consumption. A portion of imports is even re-exported to neighboring countries in the region.
However, a nagging question remains, despite these time-tested arrangements: Is it viable to develop a long-term dependency on global supply chains, especially for something as basic as food? Taking into consideration the disruption in world trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most ardent proponent of globalization would think twice.
A proactive response
The UAE government is not taking the issue lightly and has already deliberated on the possible solutions to reduce this dependency.
In a meeting held in August 2020, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, stressed the need to expand local capabilities to reinforce food and water security, with directives to "monitor the national reserves, invest in food technologies, establish international partnerships and implement practical solutions".
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