The 48m square-feet site was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s emir. Located in Dubai Wholesale City, 10 minutes from Al Maktoum International Airport and 15 minutes from Jebel Ali Port, the park has been devised to help support food security in the UAE.
Abdulla Al Habbai, chairman of Dubai Holding, the conglomerate behind the scheme, said the park will also help businesses to access new markets.
The food trade currently accounts for 11% of the UAE’s GDP. Official figures suggest that the industry will grow in size by 70% by 2030 to a value of AED23bn.
As well as manufacturing facilities, the park will provide a range of government services including customs, clearance, licensing, food safety and supervision.
“The development projects by Dubai Holding strongly support Dubai's economic diversification and are strategically designed to help ensure Dubai is well equipped for the future,” said Al Habbai.
“There is an increased need for specialised logistical services that ease supply chain costs, as well as for more dedicated spaces to accommodate the fast growing operations of food companies in Dubai.”
The site will include a central wholesale market to serve the retail, hospitality and foodservice sectors, a logistics area and a location for packing, repacking and processing goods.
Amina Al Rustamani, chief executive of Tecom Group, which will construct the project, said the food park had been planned to bolster Dubai’s status as a regional food hub, with 11m square-feet set aside as a re-export free zone.
Dubai Holding is currently in the final stages of negotiations with Dubai-headquartered international food companies in a bid to bring them to the site.
With an eye on food security, Gulf emirates have been racing to cement their own food processing capabilities, bolstered by the region’s established status as a re-export hub for trade between Asia, Australasia and Europe.
In March, the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah announced the launch of its own food park project at Hamriyah Free Zone. At 11m square-feet, it will be smaller than the Dubai mega-project, but will comprise similar facilities.
Where these projects leave Qatar, the Gulf emirate that is currently the subject of a blockade by countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is yet to be seen. Earlier this year Qatari authorities announced plans to make it a food manufacturing and logistics centre, driven by an established food manufacturing industry that currently employs over 250,000 residents at more than 2,000 factories.