Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed has toured a high-tech vertical farm in the heart of the Dubai desert which can produce more than 1,000 tonnes of leafy greens each year.
The Crown Prince of Dubai said the three-hectare farm, operated by Emirates Flight Catering, highlighted the emirate's vision to harness smart technology to bolster food security.
Bustanica, the Arabic word for your garden or orchard, spans three floors on a site near Al Maktoum International Airport. It produces four varieties of lettuce, kale and spinach.
There are plans to grow fruits and vegetables in the future.
The forward-thinking project is a joint venture between Emirates and Crop One, a firm specialising in technology-driven indoor vertical farming.
Emirates said it was the largest such farm in the world.
“I visited Bustanica Farm in Dubai, the world's largest vertical hydroponic-based farm, which was opened by Emirates Airlines backed by an investment of Dh150m,” Sheikh Hamdan tweeted.
“The opening of Bustanica Farm in Dubai reflects [Vice President and Dubai Ruler Sheikh] Mohammed bin Rashid's vision to employ the latest smart technology and adopt advanced technologies in the implementation of agricultural projects to achieve food security and self-sufficiency of our needs.”
The plants are grown using hydroponic methods, which does not use soil and requires 70 to 90 per cent less water than conventional farming.
Vertical farming is the name given to the technique that layers crops on top of each other to make full potential of the available space.
The method is widely regarded as a solution to the long-standing problem of being able to find farming space in expanding urban regions, as well as providing farming facilities in climates where it would not have traditionally been possible.
“We will continue launching new initiatives that apply modern farming techniques to accelerate self-sufficiency in fresh food produce and support sustainability, which is a top priority for us,” added Sheikh Hamdan, in a statement released by Dubai Media Office.
“The Dubai Food Security Committee constantly reviews current opportunities and challenges within the framework of the national food security strategy.
"Our plans for enhancing self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector by supporting the use of technologies and applied research in food processing and agriculture are focused on meeting the current and future needs of Dubai’s citizens and residents.”