AgrowDubai: Bringing Food Security to a Desert
Integrated Design (BFA)
My project includes a guidebook and website to help entrepreneurs set up Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) farming businesses in Dubai. Dubai’s rapid urbanization, in the span of 37 years, has led to a host of social and environmental problems. The most pressing of these issues, and one that lies at the nexus of this range of issues, is food security. With an ever-growing population and economy, Dubai requires more food access day by day. The UAE’s food imports reached more than $23 billion in 2019, amounting to 85 percent of the country’s total food consumption. Food is thus not only a social and environmental problem; it is also an economic one. But how can a desert with limited arable land and freshwater sources produce its own food? With more and more people moving into urban areas globally, the ability to grow one’s own food has become increasingly important. Limited spatial and resource considerations have spurred a new wave of technological advances in the field of agriculture. One such advance is CEA. The use of technology to grow food through the creation of a controlled growing environment for crops gives growers much more control over their yield and allows them to use resources like water, energy, space, capital, and labor efficiently. CEA has seen international success, but limited use in Dubai. Now the questions are: How do we bring this knowledge to Dubai? How do we inspire Dubai’s residents to grow their own food? How do we help foster a new relationship with food among residents?