Bustanica, a three-hectare farm operated by Emirates Flight Catering, is capable of producing more than 1,000 tonnes of leafy greens each year. Emirates airline said it was the largest such farm in the world.
Accompanied by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Sheikh Mohammed was briefed on the advanced technologies used in the agricultural complex. Four different kinds of lettuce, kale and spinach are produced over its three floors.
Sheikh Mohammed said "the unique initiative reflects the country’s commitment to food security by fostering sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices".
The plants are grown in the farms using hydroponic methods. These grow plants without the use of soil and use 70 to 90 per cent less water than conventional farming.
The Dh150 million farm near Al Maktoum International Airport is a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One, a firm specialising in technology-driven indoor vertical farming. This is a 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.
"The opening of the world's largest vertical agricultural complex is an important milestone that demonstrates how well our national institutions are aware of the most important development issues, and how they are contributing to the UAE's leadership in a number of future fields," Sheikh Mohammed said in a tweet posted by Dubai Media Office.
"The UAE's fixed strategic priorities are food security and self-sufficiency in its food needs and achieving a sustainable environment for its resources."
Emirates Flight Catering is already using the products on board its flights. They are also expected to be available to buy shortly in supermarkets as well.
There are also plans to grow fruits and vegetables in the future at Bustanica, which is the Arabic word for your garden or orchard.
"Emirates airlines is a national destination and we are proud of its achievements and services that have enhanced its competitiveness among the largest international airlines," Sheikh Mohammed said.
"We trust in the ability of our young graduates and institutions to present and implement ideas that will accelerate achievement and yield the best results throughout our vital sectors."