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United Arab Emirates Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Only a few percent of the United Arab Emirates land can be used for agriculture or livestock, especially breeding of goats and camels. The most important agricultural areas are located on the slopes of Hajarberg in the northeast and at the oases of Liwa and al-Ain. Agriculture accounts for only about one percent of GDP but uses two-thirds of water resources.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of United Arab Emirates. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Dates are traditionally the dominant product, but in recent years greenhouse cultivation of vegetables, especially tomatoes, has increased significantly. However, over two-thirds of all food must be imported, even though the emirate is almost self-sufficient with vegetables, eggs, poultry and wheat. Agriculture is heavily subsidized by the state, which has led to increased cultivation. Those who want to become farmers have in some cases been offered fully equipped farms at no cost.

United Arab Emirates Agriculture and Fishing Overview

In 2013, Abu Dhabi began fighting a pest insect originating in Asia, the red palm worm that attacks date crops (but also coconut and oil palm). According to the United Nations Agricultural Organization, FAO, 60 percent of the world's agricultural crops are located in the Arab world, where dates are important both as export goods and as part of the feasts during the fixed month of Ramadan. The control of the beetles involves, among other things, the use of pheromone traps, which attract the swirls with fragrances.

Agriculture's biggest problem is water shortages. Along the coasts, seawater has penetrated into the groundwater and some new agricultural facilities have been abandoned due to the soil becoming too salty.

Agriculture and fishing of United Arab EmiratesAgainst this background, it is not surprising that experiments with salmon farming in Dubai, despite the difficulty of holding tanks with cold and flowing water. Salmon sales from the country's only fish farm started in 2019. The idea is that the cooling plant will eventually be powered by solar energy.

Along the coasts, fishing plays an important role. In the Umm al-Qaywayn and Ajman emirates, it has long been an important industry. However, the formerly rich fishing waters have greatly deteriorated as a result of depletion and pollution. In dozens of places along the coast, artificial caves are now being placed in concrete - the goal is 500 pieces - to benefit the fish stocks. The previously so rich pearl fish in particular Sharja ebbed out in the mid-20th century after Japan conquered the market with cultured pearls.


Agriculture's share of GDP

0.7 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

5.5 percent (2016)



Brotherhood is classified as a terrorist organization

The Muslim Brotherhood is classified by the authorities as a terrorist organization. Two groups involved in the civil war in Syria are also blacklisted: IS and the al-Nusra front with ties to the al-Qaeda terror network.

Ambassadors back on site in Doha

The UAE sends its ambassador back to Doha after the dispute with Qatar was resolved at a Saudi Arabia meeting.


The Emirates participates in air strikes against IS

September 23

As the United States launches air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the United Arab Emirates, like other states in the region, participates in military support in the fight against the jihadi movement. The countries have also promised to try to prevent recruits trying to get to IS via their territory, and to stop making money payments to IS.


Air strikes in Libya

US sources report that the United Arab Emirates and Egypt conducted air strikes against Islamist groups in Libya. The UAE does not comment on the information.

Anti-terrorist laws are tightened

More stringent anti-terrorism laws are introduced which, according to local media, mean that anyone who has threatened the state, government or emirate's ruling families can be sentenced to death. Lifetime imprisonment or a fine of up to $ 27 million is another punishment for terrorist offenses.


Six are convicted of terrorist offenses

Six people are sentenced to seven years in prison for forming a cell linked to the al-Qaeda terror network. They are also condemned for having raised money for the Nusra Front, which represents al-Qaeda in the Syrian civil war. A seventh person is sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment.

General military duty is introduced

A law on general military duty enters into force. The law, which was passed earlier in the year, entails compulsory military service for men between the ages of 18 and 30. Anyone who leaves high school should do military service for nine months; the rest applies for two years. For women, military service is optional.


Ambassadors are called home from Qatar

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain call home their Qatar ambassadors, who they accuse of having embedded in the countries' domestic policies. Relations between Qatar and other countries in the region have deteriorated since the Arab Spring of 2011 due to Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the other countries see as a security threat.


The president suffers a stroke

President Khalifa is reported to have undergone surgery after having suffered a stroke. Khalifa's half-brother Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayid takes over as de facto ruler.

Fraternity Coupling Prison

Ten UAE citizens and 20 Egyptians are sentenced to up to five years in prison for trying to establish a local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In March, three people are sentenced to prison for between five and seven years for collecting money for a group with ties to the Brotherhood.


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