Coronavirus: Sheikh Mohammed says Covid-19 challenge highlights need to make food and water security a top priority

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai insisted it was more important than ever for the nation to be self-reliant

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the crucial need for the country to make its food and water security strategy a top priority.

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai said ensuring the nation is self-sustainable and protecting its resources would be key to its development in the post-coronavirus age.

Sheikh Mohammed stressed that the UAE's robust response to the outbreak had demonstrated it is in a strong position to face up to and overcome a variety of crises.

He spoke during a high-level meeting with Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, were also part of the talks.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a better view and a bigger ability to deal with challenges," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"We have to build on this experience to enhance our food and water security.

“Our food and water security is part of our national security. And the sustainability and preservation of the level of comfort in the UAE requires us to enhance national awareness on the importance of preserving our resources and creating a self sufficient system.”

Ms Al Mheiri praised efforts to strengthen water security and called for water resources to be managed more effectively through the use of advanced recycling technologies.

As the country continues to diversify its energy use, she said dams and solar power could be vital to making the most of natural resources.

The minister urged the country to come together to provide for future generations.

“The food and water security file shows an urgent need for sustainable development and enhancing the work of the management of resources to provide water and food for future generations.

"Everyone should world together to achieve the best results."

Authorities have taken steps to bolster food security in particular during the ongoing public health crisis to ensure the country has adequate stocks in periods in which access to the overseas food chain supply is limited.

In June, Dubai rolled out a Food Security Dashboard in order to monitor supplies.

The resource, developed by a local government team with the backing of authorities such as Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Economy and the Dubai Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, utilises artificial intelligence and data analytics to track key indicators of strong food security.

In the same month, Ms Al Mheiri stated that technological investments in aquaculture were critical for national food security.

She said the closure of international borders and interruption of food supply chains due to Covid-19 served only to emphasise the importance of developing the sector.

Aquaculture refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish and other marine life in all forms of water environments.

“In view of the effects of the pandemic we are currently experiencing and, aligned with the strategic directions of the national security strategy, aquatech is one of the sectors we need to ramp up,” Ms Al Mheiri said at the time.