Huge kosher kitchen in Dubai to produce 2,000 meals a day

New partnership with Emirates airline aims to make the UAE a major global exporter of kosher food

Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski, head of the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union's Israel branch, opened Kosher Arabia’s facility this week. Courtesy of Kosher Arabia
Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski, head of the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union's Israel branch, opened Kosher Arabia’s facility this week. Courtesy of Kosher Arabia

A new kosher kitchen being run in partnership with Emirates could help the UAE become a major global exporter of the food.

Kosher Arabia will produce more than 2,000 meals a day from a 1,858-square-metre kitchen in Dubai.

It will focus on airline catering for Emirates and other airlines, as well as for hotels and events.

This country could actually be a centre exporting premium kosher food to the rest of the region and the world

Ross Kriel, CCL Holdings

Ross Kriel, the chief executive of CCL Holdings, which is working with Emirates Flight Catering to open and operate the kitchen, said the idea was a dream that has been in the planning for years.

“The foundation of the business is airline catering, for all airlines, not just Emirates but regional airlines and in fact, international airlines as well,” he said.

“But the kosher facility is the largest in the region.

“And the intention is to sell kosher food to all consumers of it, including hotels and events as well.

“This country could actually be a centre exporting premium kosher food to the rest of the region and the world, which is the most extraordinary concept.”

Kosher Arabia will focus on catering for Emirates and other airlines, as well as for hotels and events. Courtesy Emirates
Kosher Arabia will focus on catering for Emirates and other airlines, as well as for hotels and events. Courtesy Emirates

Mr Kriel said the airline kosher catering market has grown exponentially in recent years, and demand for in-flight kosher meals has rocketed.

“The increased demand for kosher airline meals, up 40 per cent since 2014, goes in step with consumer dissatisfaction and a market ripe for disruption,” he said.

“At least 130,000 Israeli tourists and investors have flown to Dubai and Abu Dhabi since commercial air travel was established in mid-October following the Abraham Accords.

“This was, in fact, the logic that drove this project.”

Food produced by the kitchen is certified by the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union (OU) in partnership with the South African Union of Orthodox Synagogues.

Emirates already offers kosher meal options on flights. Courtesy Emirates 
Emirates already offers limited kosher meal options on flights. Courtesy Emirates

Rabbi Y Dov Krakowski, head of OU’s Israel branch, opened Kosher Arabia’s facility on Tuesday, performing a ceremony placing a mezuzah, which is a piece of parchment called a klaf contained in a case and inscribed with specific verses from the Torah, at the building's entrance.

Alex Peterfreund, board member of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, said kosher food is one of the cornerstones of Jewish life.

“Wherever there are Jews there is food and I think it’s a big pride for the whole community to have a business like Kosher Arabia, who we can say are manufacturing and providing everything in the UAE,” he said.

The word kosher means a food suitable for consumption and, simply put, is prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law.

The Torah permits Jews to eat land animals that "chew their cud and have cloven hoofs". That includes animals such as cows, sheep and goats, but excludes pigs.

Certain meats are kosher, while all vegetables are.

People who eat kosher do not mix meat and milk products, so they do not, for example, eat cheeseburgers.

That means all kosher kitchens have separate areas to prepare the food to ensure there is no cross-contamination. Kosher kitchens must also be supervised.

UAE catering for kosher meals

Last September, hotels in Abu Dhabi were asked to serve kosher food by the capital’s tourism board as part of a drive to attract more Israeli visitors.

The move came after the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accord to normalise relations between the nations.

Abu Dhabi’s Agriculture and Food Safety Authority will ensure food is produced in accordance with Jewish dietary rules.

The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi said hotels were “advised to include kosher food options” on room-service menus and at all food and beverage outlets.

Establishments were encouraged to seek certification for handling kosher meals.

Updated: April 16, 2021 11:00 PM

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