The Emirati Minister of State for Food Security and the Israeli Minister of Agriculture discussed opportunities for closer collaboration in achieving better food and water security. Both countries have made significant investments in agricultural and water research and development to find innovative methods to produce food and conserve water in arid environments.
The United Arab Emirates is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world and, as such, is almost completely reliant on artificial water sources. Dubai, its most populous city, relies on desalination plants for 98.8% of its water supply. More than 25 desalination plants supply as much as 80 percent of the UAE’s total water supply and 95 percent of its drinking water is sourced from them. Desalination is an energy-intensive process and it is estimated that by the end of this decade, even with technological improvements, at least 20 percent of the UAE’s energy supply will be dedicated to water production.
Most of the water is used to irrigate agricultural land. Food imports still provide between 85 and 90 percent of the food consumed in the UAE each year. Abu Dhabi launched a National Food Security Strategy in 2019, which aims to increase domestic production of 18 vegetables, fruit, livestock, grain and fishery items to reduce the country’s reliance on imported food. According to Mariam Al Muhairi, the Minister of State for Food Security, food consumption is growing at a rate of 12 percent per year. Rapid population growth is the main factor causing that increase in consumption, as the population is expected to increase from nine million in 2019 to 11.5 million by 2025.
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