Abu Dhabi recently certified a total of 1,536 farms in the emirate. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Farms in Abu Dhabi can now legally offer tourism packages, or rent living quarters out as holiday homes, following a new decision by the emirate’s agriculture sector regulator.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (Adafsa) issued the decision approving 71 services and activities that can be legally offered on agricultural land in the emirate. The decision aims to promote the UAE’s heritage, diversify sources of income for farm owners, and promote the sustainable development of the agriculture sector.

Approved activities

The list of activities and services that can be provided by farms are listed under four categories, with 21 economic activities that support the plant sector, 24 activities related to the animal sector, 18 activities related to the food sector, and eight recreational activities. Holiday homes are listed under recreational activities.

Regulatory requirements

Adafsa has however mandated that these activities and services should not take up more than 30 per cent of each farm’s area. The farm should also have a licensed main plant or animal activity, and any services or activities provided should be owned and authorised by the farm owner. Any required trade licenses should also be registered in the name of the farm owner.


Diversify income

“The decision is the result of the efforts of the Committee for the Determination of Economic Activities on Agricultural Lands, formed under the directives of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office including the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, the Department of Municipalities and Transport, and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. The committee looked at maximising the use of agricultural land, and diversifying projects that can be established on farms…[in order to make them] a successful investment [that enhances educational, and cultural experiences] in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said Saeed Al Ameri, Adafsa director general.

“Agricultural lands in Abu Dhabi are a thriving asset for the emirate and its owners. At Adafsa, with the support of the wise leadership, we are working to maximise the value of this wealth and diversify the economic activities that can be carried out on farms to consolidate the food security system, and increase local plant and animal production. [The new decision] also enables farms to benefit from agri-tourism by offering recreational activities,” he added.

Growing sector

Abu Dhabi recently certified a total of 1,536 farms in the emirate for adopting high standards of food production, sustainability, and worker and animal welfare. The sector produced upwards of Dh13 billion of agricultural produce in 2020, including milk, poultry, eggs, crops, dates, and red meat. This agricultural production contributed 1.1 per cent to Abu Dhabi GDP in 2021, up from 0.8 per cent contribution in the previous year.

In Dubai, farms already offer a wide range of experiences for tourists and resident visitors, including staycations, beekeeping, planting, urban farming, and dune bashing.