The UAE is known around the world for having the biggest and best of many things, from the world’s fastest roller coaster to the world’s tallest tower. Now the nation is making itself known for the biggest and best in agritourism.

The UAE announced a plan in 2022 to build the largest agritourism park in the world. The park is set to begin construction in 2025 and open in 2030. The park will employ an estimated 10,000 people and host a fully green transit system and bio-saline agriculture.

While agritourism has been around since the end of the 19th century — in the form of city dwellers traveling in summer to visit family-owned farms — it is now a growing trend in sustainability and a popular choice for family vacations.

Activities in agritourism include anything from sampling food to an authentic farm-life experience in which a family might lodge on the farm and participate in daily operations. Many might have experienced agritourism and not even realized it when visiting a petting zoo, eating at a farm-to-table restaurant or picking berries.

Essentially, farmers or producers open their doors to the public for education, entertainment and an additional income stream. For some, however, it’s also about food security.

In a nation with a complicated climate and the pandemic highlighting difficulties with reliance on supply chains, food security is a major focus for the UAE. Approximately 90 percent of consumed food in the country is imported.

Credit: URB

In arid regions like the Middle East, developing technologies like vertical farms, a 400-hectare wheat farm fed by desalinated water in the desert and the world’s largest agritourism park are creating opportunities to become less reliant on imports.

The UAE’s leaders have expressed interest in becoming self-sufficient through driving local food production, incentivizing foreign investment and reducing red tape.

In a food and agriculture forum at EXPO 2021, Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security Mariam Al Mheiri said, “We all share a vision for making our food system innovative, resilient and ultimately sustainable through increasing investment in agriculture research and development,” the National reported.

In 2021, the global agritourism market was appraised at $U.S.45,395 million and is estimated to reach $U.S.141 billion by 2030.

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