U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council Brings Innovative American Agtech to U.A.E.


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This week, the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council led ten innovative U.S. companies on a successful five-day food security trade mission to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This U.S. Department of Commerce-certified mission was held in conjunction with Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food & beverage trade show, and in partnership with the U.A.E. Embassy’s Trade and Commercial Office in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai, and the Office of the U.A.E. Minister of State for Food Security.

The main purpose of this mission was for delegates to better understand the U.A.E.’s priorities in developing new capabilities in food and water security, sustainable production, and better waste management in the food cycle. The mission provided participants the opportunity to meet with top U.A.E. government policy makers at the federal level and Emirate level. It also enabled participants to meet other companies already established in this vertical as well as other important and related verticals. Finally and importantly, the mission connected participants with key local U.S. government officials at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate.

The delegation consisted of a mix of executives from prominent American companies and innovative agtech startups including Aerofarms, Agritecture, BiFarm, Chaac Technologies, Crop Box, Crop One, HerdX, Irrigation Components International, PepsiCo, and Valmont Middle East. Other U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council members and partners participated in select aspects of the week’s programming.

The mission began on Sunday morning 16 February with a briefing by officials from the U.S. Consulate in Dubai. After providing an overview of the U.S.-U.A.E. political and commercial relationship, U.S. Consul General Philip Frayne and the Consulate team highlighted the importance of food security to the U.A.E.’s national vision and detailed how this food security delegation was an outgrowth of the Economic Policy Dialogue held between the U.S. and U.A.E. governments in June 2019.

The morning continued with a visit to Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), which is a leading trade and enterprise hub for commodities. DMCC officials discussed the increasingly strategic role agricultural goods occupy in DMCC’s commodities mix.

Delegates then went to Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade show. There, they met U.A.E. retail giant Lulu Group International and Al Dahra, a prominent multinational leader in agribusiness, specializing in the cultivation, production, and trading of animal feed and essential food commodities and end-to-end supply chain management.

The day concluded with an evening reception hosted by the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council in honor of the delegation and Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under Secretary McKinney underscored the growing importance of innovative approaches to agriculture.

The second day of the mission commenced with a visit to Mohebi Logistics, one of the largest vertically integrated supply chain management companies for food industry manufacturers and fast-moving consumer goods companies in the Middle East.

This was followed by a meeting with Her Excellency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, U.A.E. Minister of State for Advanced Sciences. There, delegates heard about the Ministry’s eight scientific priorities, one of which is developing arid and urban food science and systems. They also discussed how the her team partners with various governmental and private sector organizations to help further advance contributions of agricultural science and technology.

The day concluded with a tour of Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), a free zone that seeks to encourage collaboration between industry, government, and academia to promote innovative R&D.

On Tuesday morning, Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, U.A.E. Minister of State for Food Security, received the delegation at her offices in Emirates Towers. During a three-hour meeting with her and her team, Her Excellency discussed the U.A.E.’s National Strategy for Food Security, which seeks to make the U.A.E. the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 by enhancing local production, diversifying food sources, and reducing waste. Her Excellency also elaborated on new incentives for innovative agtech companies to establish operations in the U.A.E.

Continuing a slate of important government meetings, delegates then met with officials from the U.A.E. Ministry of Economy, who reviewed measures the U.A.E. is taking to solidify the U.A.E.’s standing as a regional and global business hub. Delegates also met with officials from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, which plays a significant role in promoting sustainable agricultural production.
On Wednesday 19 February, the mission’s focus turned to Abu Dhabi. Delegates visited the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), which is an office under the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) that attracts foreign direct investment, supports local investors via promotional efforts, and offers integrated services to current and prospective investors. ADIO has notably introduced a three-year program with up to AED 1 billion ($270 million) in incentives for innovators within select agricultural technology sub-sectors to expand their knowledge-focused operations to Abu Dhabi.

The group then met with leadership from Mubadala Investment Company, a pioneering global investor with $229 billion worth of assets under management – over $100 billion of which is invested in the United States. The day concluded with an evening reception at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi that featured remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. John Rakolta, Jr.

On the final day of the mission, the delegation engaged with representatives from an important food regulator: the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA). ADAFSA is the local authority in charge of agriculture, food safety, food security, and biosecurity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The delegates also met with executives from three leading Emirati agricultural companies that, along with the aforementioned Al Dahra, are part of the U.A.E.’s Food Security Alliance. Delegates first met with leadership from Agthia, which was established by SENAAT in 2004 to support the food and beverage manufacturing sector and is a leading producer of flour and animal feed, water and beverages, processed fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. Delegates also met with Elite Agro, a leader in the production of vegetables, fruits, and cereals in the Middle East, and Jenaan, a prominent Abu Dhabi-based company that invests in the agricultural chain with the goal to contribute to the food security objectives of the U.A.E.

Achieving greater food security will continue to be an important objective of the U.A.E. in the coming decades as well as an important area of bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and U.A.E. To learn more about the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s programming in this vertical, please contact Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org