Head down to The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah in Dubai on Saturdays between 8am and 2pm, and you can buy, browse through or breakfast on produce from the Emirati Farmers Souq in the Food District.
Launched in December, the event aims to bring young Emirati entrepreneurs into the farming sector, says Sandy El Hayek, the food and beverage operations manager at Nakheel Malls Malls, who came up with the idea. Visitors can peruse the produce that is either conventionally grown, hydroponic farmed or organic, and then head for breakfast to Boon Coffee or Smol by The Lighthouse on the district's ground floor terrace.
Meet the vendors
The current line-up of local farms that are part of Emirates Farmers Souq include:
- Al Ammar Farm, which grows fruit and vegetables in low tunnels near the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah.
- Hikari Vegetable, from Umm Al Quwain that cultivates vegetables and microgreens.
- Al Anan Organic Farm, an Esma-certified organic farm that's big on composting.
- Modern Organic Farm, the UAE's first organic farm since 2005, certified by the UAE Ministry of Environment and based in Sharjah.
- Nature Farm, which is known for its organic eggs.
- Rashed Farms, a Ripe Market regular that offers organic veggies.
- Al Khaleej Honey Trading, which will bring its myriad honey varieties, from Sidr and Samar to Emirati Ghaf honey.
Supporting farmers is crucial
“We grew up in this generation where we are used to sitting on the other side of the table. But we have little knowledge about the other end, because it’s never really been a necessity. If we have the amount of investments to go into F&B concepts, we should also be able to support the farming side,” says El Hayek.
“The F&B sector is growing like there’s no tomorrow, but we need to put the same focus on [farming].”
At the market, farmers sell directly to the consumer. They are also taught how to improve their businesses, from how to represent their brand to how to market themselves better. The 13 restaurants at the destination are also encouraged to buy the produce, thus completing the sustainable cycle of this initiative, says El Hayek.
“It’s a major responsibility, especially from the F&B side [to encourage sustainable farming]. We need to spread the word and encourage people to be aware such things are possible,” she says. “It is a necessity and it needs to start somewhere.”