It was one of the most remarkable projects announced last year: in the hot desert of the United Arabic Emirates, German fresh produce giant BayWa AG and Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra Holding LLC planned to build a €30 million project in the production of premium vegetables as well as in the marketing of the produce in the seven-emirate federation, and potential regional markets. By now the first plants are flowering in the greenhouse and it's time to take a peek inside.

Spending power
Both BayWa and Al Dahra see potential for growth in the region. "Spending power in the UAE on fruit and vegetables from regional and sustainable production is strong, and the country has a healthy market for premium fruit and vegetables", they announced last year. Therefore now specialty tomatoes are being grown

The market demand has been key to the project from the start. "Knowing the market makes it possible to create a project even in tough circumstances, like the desert. You can see it from the size of the project for example: they profit from the scale and it offers them a good position in the market."

With the market at the heart of the project, also the use of raw materials is of great importance. "You have to ensure your water use is more efficient than other projects in the region to be able to break ground here". "Of course a project with this size uses a lot of water, but if you compare it to the production, the water use per kilo is as low as possible. The same goes for the use of other natural sources like energy. While honouring the needs of the market, the use is being optimized."

Being able to look back a little bit since the first five hectares have been planted by now, the team can say it was a fun, challenging project because of the complexity, scale and tight planning. The next five hectares are almost finished.