Emarat Al Youm: Popular Participation Is Imperative for Enhancing Food and Water Security

The directives of the UAE’s wise leadership chart clear routes for progress toward the future. In this context, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (may God protect him), has focused on the issue of food and water security in the UAE. His Highness said: “The issue is vital for sustainable development in our country. Individuals play a crucial role in safeguarding our water and food resources. We should not overconsume, even if we have an endlessly flowing river at our disposal.” His Highness made the remarks during a recent meeting, following the announcement of the new structure of the UAE Cabinet for the post COVID-19 period. The meeting was convened to review the country’s efforts to reinforce its food and water security.

In his remarks, His Highness cited the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They illustrate that the rationalization of consumption is an Islamic behavior God has asked us to adhere to. The Prophet (pbuh) urged us to behave in this way.

In a comment on a lecture held at his Majlis on May 7, 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (may God protect him), also cautioned against excess. His Highness said: “The habit of excess does not fit with our Islamic religion.” He added: “Food security is a holistic ecosystem that pertains not only to food production, but also addresses the culture of how we manage food. This is a key part of the UAE food security strategy; how we think of preserving our various natural resources, such as water, food, energy and others.”

It is worth noting that the comments from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (may God protect them) stress the pivotal role of individuals in consolidating the successes achieved by those responsible for food and water security in the UAE. This contribution represents a religious and national obligation that can immensely enhance the country’s power and resilience. The call for rationalizing consumption is important in all circumstances, but is of even greater significance, and of vast benefit, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the UAE, this focus on food and water security is not new. The integrated strategy for food security is the result of decades-long efforts, which have culminated in the National Food Security Strategy 2051, in addition to the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036. Both strategies have been highly effective during the COVID-19 crisis, during which the UAE saw no disruptions to the flow of food supplies. The consolidation of both dossiers under the supervision of one federal Ministry allowed for a rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. It shows an understanding of the close association between the issues, and the benefits of responding to them within a unified framework. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (may God protect him) recognized this by saying: “The global coronavirus crisis has enabled us to adopt a comprehensive vision aimed at managing challenges, and we should capitalize on this moment to strengthen our food and water security.”

Comments from Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, during the recent meeting, also reflect this forward-looking vision, which lays the foundation for responding to these issues. In relation to water security, H.E. Almheiri noted that the ministry’s work in this area involves “managing national strategic reserves, supporting research and development, and promoting global partnerships and international representation.” When it comes to food security, she explained: “Greater emphasis has been placed on food technologies and how to use them to create a new economic resource for the UAE, as well as to enhance the UAE’s status as a pioneering global center for food security based on innovation and knowledge. Several new technologies, such as genomics and others resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will be adopted to upgrade the entire food security system in the UAE.”

The UAE’s forward-looking vision on issues of food and water security has every chance of success, however, the participation of all individuals is needed to ensure that this success is even greater and more extensive. This makes it a national obligation; one in which we should all participate.