Hospitality growth helps boost food demand
Dubai:, January 16, 2008
Multi-billion dollar developments in the hospitality sector are having a major impact on the region’s fast developing food production and agriculture industry.
Recent research has identified plans to invest $580 billion in over 900 hotels and resorts across the Middle East between now and 2020 with more than 200 projects worth $23 billion under construction in the Arabian Gulf due to be completed in the next few years, said the organisers of the region’s biggest agribusiness trade event in a statement.
“As the hospitality industry rapidly develops in the region, the consequent requirement for food products including poultry, fish and seafood is rising dramatically,” said Jim Meltz, manager for AGRA Middle East (AGRAme), that takes place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre from April 8 –10, 2008.
“At the same time, the requirement for landscaping and horticulture products is on a high as a result of all these projects,” he added.
For example, the newly opened Raffles Hotel in Dubai features a one hectare Sky Garden with 260 trees, 1400 bamboo plants, 500 aquatic plants, over 100,000 shrubs and 1,000 climbers, he said.
Running concurrently at AGRAme 2008 will be four closely linked exhibitions in one comprehensive platform showcasing the latest advances in agriculture and irrigation; animal husbandry and poultry farming; floriculture and horticulture; plus fisheries aquaculture.
Dubai is a major re-export centre for perishable food products serving the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and reaching as far as Russia, India, Pakistan and East Africa – a consumer market of more than two billion people.
“With more than 100 airlines and over 140 global destinations, Dubai is uniquely positioned to connect the global perishables trade,” said Meltz. “Dubai imports 80 per cent of the UAE's consumable items per year and 30-40 per cent of these are re-exported. While the Middle East is witnessing significant agricultural development, the GCC countries must still rely on the rest of the world for 90 per cent of their food and feed requirements. Annual food imports to the UAE alone amount to a staggering $3.5-4 billion.”
Nevertheless, the region is overcoming climate, limited water resources and poor soil conditions to build indigenous production by acquiring modern technologies, equipment and expertise and shifting investment trends toward the development of the agricultural sector, Meltz added.
Agricultural development in recent years in the UAE has seen more than 723,738 hectares of once barren land transformed for cultivation. There are now over 6,313 greenhouses and 22,797 farms spread throughout the country.
“Limited trade restrictions, high per capita incomes and growing demand because of ever increasing population in the region is adding to the potential for agribusiness industries in this booming marketplace,” said Meltz. “
“The diverse lifestyles of the GCC countries - with more than 200 nationalities in the UAE alone with varied eating habits - provide further opportunities to explore a growing market.”
For example, many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are developing new export bases for consumer-ready food products and ingredients.
Dubai is also establishing itself as a regional hub for fresh flowers with the Flower Centre Free Zone at Dubai International Airport. The affluent Middle East economies continue to hold further opportunity for the floriculture and horticulture sectors which have seen 12 per cent annual growth in landscaping and garden products, the organisers of the show said.
Platinum sponsors of AGRAme are Cairo Three A, a group of integrated companies in the supply of agricultural commodities across the Middle East North Africa including trading and charging/