UAE seeks to secure food supply chain with $1.3 billion China deal
Dubai Food Park (DFP), the region’s largest specialized zone dedicated to serving the rapidly growing food sector, has signed an AED1.35 billion investment agreement with Ningxia Forward Fund Management Company to build a world-class China-UAE Food Industrial cluster in Dubai.
The strategic agreement will significantly consolidate China’s stake in the burgeoning Middle East food industry and further expand bilateral relations.
The agreement was signed by Abdulla Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Wholesale City, and a representative from Ningxia Forward Fund Management Company, on the side-lines of the third edition of the China – Arab States Expo in China’s northwest autonomous region Ningxia’s capital Yinchuan, that drew the participation of a high-level UAE delegation.
Abdullah Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Wholesale City, said: “This agreement comes at an important time, given the urgent global need to enhance collaboration on food security through increasing the physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. The partnership marks a step forward into strengthen bilateral relations at various levels, particularly trade and economic relations between the UAE and China.”
He added: “In line with the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, once complete, the China-UAE Food Industrial cluster will comprise a globally important, modern, low-carbon and digital food processing and trading center in the Middle East that integrates processing of meals, processing of packaged food, cold chain storage, production of food packages, e-commerce and commodities exhibition, bio-safety disposal of wastewater and solid waste.”
Spanning an area of 4.38 million square feet, the China-UAE Food Industrial cluster will be home to 30 food plants, including two Chinese catering companies and two advanced manufacturing plants for food packaging materials.
The project is scheduled for hand over 24 months from date of commencing its construction.
The project will ultimately comprise six major components: meals processing, packaged food processing, cold chain storage, production of food packages, e-commerce and commodities exhibition and bio-safety disposal of wastewater and wastes.
Food processing will take centerstage within the plant’s operations. 75% of the total project area will be allocated for factories, 17% for warehouses and 8% divided between offices and other facilities.
“The partnership between Dubai Food Park and China’s Ningxia Forward Fund Management Company reflects the global interest in entering Dubai and the UAE markets to benefit from the country’s world-class ground, marine, and aerial infrastructure as well as its strategic location at the crossroads between East and West,” said Abdulla Al Habbai, chairman of Dubai Holding.
“Through this new synergy, we aspire to cement long-standing relations with China to ensure the sustainable development of both our countries,” he added.
Belhoul added that Dubai Food Park would continue to enter strategic partnerships that contribute to the diversification of the national economy, offering greater investment opportunities to ensure sustainable economic development.
He added that these opportunities would enhance the UAE’s global competitiveness, as well as its status as a capital for the halal industry that is set to witness astronomical growth in the years to come.
For his part, a spokesperson from Ningxia Forward Fund Management Company, said: “This agreement goes a long way in boosting China’s economic synergies with the UAE that is already our leading trade partner in the region. Such agreements help us meet the objectives of China’s Belt and Road initiative, and create large-scale employment opportunities and trade benefits for the world’s nations.”
China's non-financial foreign investment increased by 352% in the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period last year. The number of Chinese companies registered with the UAE Ministry of Economy has also exceeded 4,000 till date in 2017.
Dubai Holding launched Dubai Food Park in July 2017 in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The first-of-its-kind in the region, DFP is expected to build on Dubai’s position as a leading regional hub for foodstuffs and food re-export.