A Danish firm has captured the imagination of UAE gardeners - inventing a plantable pencil that grows into herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Sprout, the company which developed the idea, sold 175,000 pencils across the Emirates last year.
Once worn down to its nib, green-fingered owners can plant the product in soil and just add water.
Seeds stored in the top of the pencil then germinate – blooming into everything from cherry tomatoes and coriander to sunflowers and basil.
Michael Stausholm, chairman of Sprout, said he was first made aware of the concept via a group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012.
A year later, he bought the patent and has since gone on to sell more than 14 million pencils in 80 countries.
"It's quite easy [to plant]; you just place the stub, which is a small green capsule that contains seeds, in soil," Mr Stausholm told The National.
“From the first time you water it the capsule will dissolve and the seeds will come out. You take care of it like any plant. With natural light and water and lots of love it will grow.”
Mr Stausholm claimed part of the reason for the product’s growing success was an increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.
He said both businesses and individuals were keen to demonstrate a commitment to protecting the planet, and be seen to be behaving responsibly.
Out of the 3.5 million Sprout pencils sold across the world last year, 5 per cent - 175,000 - were sold in the UAE.
Even prominent firms such as Porsche, Hilton, Toyota and Ikea have bought into the idea – requesting branded pencils for their customers.
“I think a lot of people are buying because of the sustainability aspect,” said Mr Stausholm. “Instead of throwing away the pencil you are giving it a new life.
“With Expo 2020 Dubai coming up there’s a lot of focus on sustainability in the Middle East.
“We have sold in almost every country in the Middle East, mainly to the emirates since it is a main hub.”