Dubai grower helps tropical fruit thrive through modern methods

An Emirati businessman steeped in a rich farming tradition is reaping the rewards of his enterprising approach to agriculture. A real estate boss by day, Abdullatif Al Banna, 56, spends many an evening tending to the thousands of pineapples he grows each year at his farm in the desert of Al Aweer in Dubai.

May is the month when he harvests more than 4,000 of the tropical fruit, spread across four greenhouses. They are grown hydroponically ― without soil and using water-based nutrient solutions.

"The pineapples are very sweet. I don't think we can buy pineapples that are this sweet from the market," Mr. Al Banna said as he collected the fruit from the plants. "These are the sweetest I have eaten in my life," The farm was established in 2005 for growing dates. But a decade ago, Mr. Al Banna decided to experiment with pineapples and find a way to ensure they thrive in the challenging UAE desert climate.

He and his family are now enjoying the fruits of his labors over the years — literally, as Mr. Al Banna prefers to distribute his tropical harvest among relations and friends rather than sell it. "I brought 300 pineapple plants to check which environment they grow best in. We put some under the open sky, some inside a greenhouse, and some underneath the shade of trees," he said. "The ones in the greenhouse were the most successful.


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