Food for thought
Aims for the UAE to become self-sufficient in terms of food supply and Dubai’s plan to plant a million trees are admirable but misplaced, thinks Kipp.
November 23, 2010 4:49 by kippreport
“Mohammed launches initiative to plant one million trees in Dubai” was the headline that caught Kipp’s eye last week when we were clicking through Emirates 24-7. Noble intentions, we thought, but quite possibly impractical given the UAE’s desert status.
The story says that the campaign to plant one million trees in Dubai is being executed by the Dubai Police in association with the Dubai Municipality. It was launched by Sheikh Mohammed who planted the first tree at the main square inside the Dubai Police Academy.
Exact details of the logistics of the campaign were left out of the article, but they didn’t escape our wondering minds. How exactly will the Dubai Municipality manage an increased load of a million trees? How much will these trees cost Dubai (planting full grown trees in an arid desert is no cheap affair)? What resources will be used to maintain the trees –a particularly pressing question given the recent discussions emerging about the lack of water reserves in the UAE. Apparently, as much as 90 percent of the UAE’s water supply comes from desalinated water, which means that in the event of an oil spill or bacterial infection of the waters surrounding the UAE, the entire country could be out of water within two days. What will happen to the new trees then? Actually, if we run out of water Kipp doesn’t think we’ll be too worried about the trees.
Getting off the Nakheel Metro Station every day, Kipp is no stranger to the plush green golf courses Dubai is able to create and maintain. With flower beds being uprooted and replaced with different varieties every few weeks, we have no doubt that if the UAE put its mind (and coin purse) to it, they probably could do it. But there is no denying such ambitions are unsettling when framed with the resources question.
Speaking of trees, has anyone else noticed the new fleet of newly planted baby trees in colourful pots that seem to have sprung up all over Dubai before Eid (also featured in the picture at the top of this post?)? Are these part of the million? Has anyone noticed how they are, unfortunately, already on the verge of dying?
Kipp thinks the sentiments that motivate these grand gestures and statements might be in need of a reality check. Take for instance a headline in today’s Gulf News that reads “UAE must develop a more self-sufficient food industry.” Read a little into the article to find out that Senior economic researcher at the Department of Economic Development, Ala’a Al Din Hassan Mous, speaking at the SIAL Middle East 2010 summit, says the UAE must make use of “high-tech agricultural methods to become self sufficient.”
We aren’t experts in the field, but the UAE isn’t particularly well known for its booming agricultural industry. Sure, we’ve noticed the odd cucumber and tomato locally produced at the supermarkets, so we know the industry is in existence, but it capable of developing to the extent that the UAE can become completely self-sufficient? Once again, the question of water supply looms menacingly in the background.
What do you think? Is Kipp too skeptical, or is the country being too ambitious?