Tucked away in Masdar City, a quiet planned neighborhood in the emirate of Abu Dhabi that combines earth-tone Arabic architecture with wind turbines and other innovative technology, is a cluster of container-style buildings. These containers are the site of Madar Farms, co-founded by Abdulaziz Al Mulla, a Kuwaiti entrepreneur now based in the United Arab Emirates.
Al Mulla began getting interested in food security while at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where he worked with several of the region’s governments addressing a variety of national risk challenges. He left McKinsey after one particular project introduced him to the national security threats food and water challenges will bring to the region. He decided he wanted to do something about it, and ended up purchasing old shipping containers and transforming them into these indoor farms as a way to increase local food production. Today lettuce, basil, kale and other leafy greens grow without soil in trays that sit under red and blue LED lights, stacked in levels much like floors in a building.