Desert agriculture will be a driver of the UAE's post-pandemic strategy
In the space of just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed both the shortcomings and the advantages of our globalised world.
For instance, widespread and high-tech means of transportation have enabled the virus to reach all four corners of the globe by air, sea and land. But they have also helped to deliver life-saving aid and medical equipment to vulnerable and severely affected nations. And the have proved integral to preserving the integrity of the global supply chain for basic necessities, such as food and hygiene products.
Yet the pandemic has forced some nations to limit exports as they deal with shortages and economic problems at home. This tension has pushed governments and individuals to become more innovative and to invest in local technologies and companies.
The knowledge and technology required to develop agriculture through scientific innovation is becoming widely available, and co-operation in this area has led to some extraordinary successes.
Regional and federal authorities in the UAE are promoting local production of vital personal protective equipment, with Abu Dhabi set to host the Middle East’s largest factory for masks. Gulf countries are also investing in domestic agriculture to ensure food security.
In the UAE, a joint project between UAE scientists and South Korean experts plans to turn Sharjah’s deserts into rice paddies. This apparently improbable feat is nonetheless one step closer to becoming reality. The project is currently pending approval and, according to the team managing it, should eventually allow Sharjah to grow 763 kilograms of rice in a 1,000 square metre plot of desert.