When one thinks of the United Arab Emirates, the first thing that comes to mind is opulence – the magnificent Burj Khalifa, or the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center in the world. Since its foundation on December 2, 1971, the United Arab Emirates has become a booming metropolis technological advancement – including agricultural innovation.

The UAE was the first country in the Arab World and GCC to be awarded a spot in the Top 20 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018, according to the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Rankings 2019. The UAE also holds the top position as the most innovative country in the Arab world, according to the Global Innovation Index 2019.

Every aspect of life in the UAE has been transformed by technology and innovation. From online shopping, to education, to ordering a gas refill for your car right to your door, the UAE has become consumed by the digital world, in an extremely profitable and productive way. Technological advancements have disrupted all business segments and with the rise of FinTech, the UAE is set to become more tech savvy than ever over the next decade.

While the UAE adapts to the growing technology-focused developments of the region, the introduction of Smart Cities stimulated the culture of innovation throughout the country. Smart Cities are meant to improve the lives of citizens and residents by using digital technology and making everything from education, transportation, and healthcare, more efficient and sustainable. More and more research institutions and technical learning centers have been established to promote innovation and research such as Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City and the Technology and Innovation Center in Ras Al Khaimah.

The UAE is also one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to agricultural innovation, such as vertical farming. Vertical farming allows crops to be grown up in the air, rather than over vast fields. This technique allows for reduced water consumption and less spoilage of the crops due to no fluctuations in weather when the crops are grown in a controlled environment. In 2017, the first vertical farm in Dubai was revealed by Badia Farms.

In 2019, Emirates Airlines partnered with a California based company to make Dubai home to the largest vertical farming facility in the world, which produces 6,000 pounds of crops daily. In an effort to reduce the dependence of imported foods, the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment has agreed to allocate 7,600 square meters of land, dedicated to building new vertical farming facilities. Through this new technology, the UAE plans to significantly reduce imported foods by 2021.

We can only guess what new advancements and improvements are to be expected over the next 10 years, but in respects to the forward thinking and goal-oriented culture of the UAE, it is safe to say that we will not be disappointed as new innovative technological advancements shape the Middle East and North African region.

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