Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Image Credit: Twitter/Dubai Media Office

Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, said that the emirate is reaping the benefits of the hard work and dedication of the past decades, which has been inspired by the forward-thinking vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as part of which Dubai sought to ensure high levels of preparedness to tackle challenges and develop practical solutions to combat crises, and the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

Sheikh Mansour said this approach has been instrumental to the success of the plans and objectives of the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management focused on ensuring the highest levels of safety for all members of society, and on mitigating the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed that food security is one of the key priorities of the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management.

Sheikh Mansour’s remarks came after he launched the Food Security Dashboard of Dubai, which supports the efforts of the Dubai Food Security Committee in line with the UAE’s strategic direction for ensuring food security across the country. The dashboard, developed by a local government team, was supported by the innovative initiatives of Smart Dubai and the exceptional efforts of government agencies, including the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Dubai Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation; and Dubai Economy. The dashboard is capable of using artificial intelligence and data analytics to rapidly measure the five important indicators of food security: the supply index, stock availability, local production, consumption levels, and the cost of vital commodities in the emirate.

Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, expressed his appreciation for the collective efforts of the Dubai Food Security Committee and its public and private sector partners, who have been working around the clock to successfully achieve this mission through strategic decision-making, and with the purpose of ensuring the local community receives its basic needs. He said: “As the world faces the challenges posed by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, our team continues to develop and adopt innovative ideas and employ technologies to foster food security in Dubai.”

He added: "Our ability to rapidly analyse data and apply artificial intelligence are testament to Dubai's ability to execute its plans and strategies in a way that meets the country’s needs, while ensuring high levels of food security and supply and enhancing food access for all members of society at reasonable costs and in a sustainable manner. This dashboard supports the national leadership’s vision to anticipate future challenges and invest in their solutions by harnessing technical capabilities, and ensuring we have the capability and flexibility to tackle challenges smoothly. We are proud of our team which has developed this dashboard in record time, and for solidifying our commitment to excellence.”

By collaborating with different parties, the dedicated Smart Dubai team and its government partners have brought to life an artificial intelligence-based mechanism that monitors the availability, consumption and prices of food supply in a record period of time, and in a manner that supports food security decision-makers. In order to effectively and efficiently respond to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management formed the Dubai Food Security Committee within the framework of the committee’s work, bringing together various opinion leaders on food security and supply availability, as part of its efforts to ensure the highest levels of readiness and data-based decision-making.

Since its formation, the Dubai Food Security Committee has assumed the responsibility of ensuring the availability of food supplies to residents in the Emirate, throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. In addition, the Committee has proved its ability to tackle all challenges and provide the right solutions, all the while implementing the Emirate’s food security plan which was instituted by decision-makers. The Committee worked on defining basic food commodities and assessing food supply based on the needs and consumption habits of Dubai residents. Furthermore, the Committee monitored companies which import and export food supply, in order to determine whether or not to increase existing inventory. The Committee also prepares studies and forecasts, develops proactive risk and emergency management plans, and develops awareness programmes and community outreach plans to enhance knowledge around food security in the emirate.

Concerted efforts

Dr Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, said: "The platform is the result of concerted public and private sector efforts, which aim to achieve food security in Dubai, and across the nation. However, the true value of technology comes into play when governments use it to improve people’s lives. The coronavirus pandemic is the perfect example which puts this theory into practice. Our investment over the past years has enabled us to successfully engage in remote work and virtual learning, and the current situation has proved Dubai’s ability to make use of technology effectively in times of crisis.”

Her Excellency added: "This dashboard, alongside the Emirate’s digital transformation efforts, enhance the government’s and the community’s strong readiness to face the future, while supporting the leadership’s vision to make Dubai the happiest and smartest country in the world. We strive to enhance residents’ wellbeing and prosperity in everything we do, and food security is one of our top priorities.”

Live indicators

Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economic Development said: “Dubai Economy is committed to maintaining high levels of food security, based on the five indicators measured by the new dashboard, which require sustainable food supply chains across outlets in the Emirate. This also involves coordinating with retail and wholesale organisations. As for the local production index, we are keen to facilitate the work of the local production industry in order to achieve self-sufficiency across several sectors.”

When it comes to food consumption habits and costs, the Dubai Economy is committed to achieving the highest level of discipline, monitoring, and supervision of merchants and consumers alike through the government’s Price Monitor, and the platform, where consumer complaints on price increases are registered. These initiatives have significantly contributed to securing consumers’ access to necessary commodities at fair prices, enhancing consumer confidence in reporting price increases in the local market, and reinforcing the importance of consumer rights.

A leading step

Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, affirmed that the launch of the Food Security Dashboard in the Emirate is a pioneering step towards achieving the sustainability of food supply and providing safe food for the community at all times, especially in times of emergency and crisis.

He said: "Food security in Dubai and the UAE was an urgent priority during the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to the readiness and efficiency of the food security system in Dubai, the local market hasn’t faced any basic food supply shortages, whether it is for locally produced or imported food. This is also testament to the Emirate’s effective crisis management strategy, which integrates all operations. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have maintained our commitment to providing basic food commodities and supply by coordinating our efforts with government partners and the private sector. This supports our national responsibility and reinforces our crucial role in highlighting the voice of the business community and the private sector at large. An committee was urgently formed comprising of representatives from the Ministry of Economy, the Dubai Chamber and all responsible parties to manage food supply, its distribution and logistics services, and to monitor developments and address issues immediately and efficiently, with the aim of maximising positive benefits from cross-border trade.”

He said: "The Dubai Food Security Dashboard will work on implementing the strategic plan for food security in the UAE, and will significantly contribute to achieving the goals of the national food security strategy, given the platform’s flexible nature and its use of artificial intelligence and data technology to enhance food security levels and strategic food stock, and in monitoring imports and prices of all basic commodities, consumption patterns, and any circumstances affecting the food supply chain.

He praised the team in charge of the Food Security Dashboard, which includes representatives of the public and private sectors in Dubai, stressing that the dashboard is a result of strategic cooperation between various parties whose efforts have been guided by the directions and strategic goals of Dubai.

Elevating Dubai’s readiness

“Ensuring the highest levels of national food security is one of the emirate’s highest priorities,” said Dawoud Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality. Al Hajri emphasised that food security is a crucial part of national security.

He added that Dubai Municipality has strengthened its readiness and willingness to monitor food supply and support food security across the UAE. The Municipality has provided all the requirements for ensuring that consumers can obtain their basic food supply needs, and has simplified the food import process and movement amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. Al Hajri believes the launch of the Food Security Dashboard was made possibly by the collective efforts of Dubai Government’s various departments, and their efforts to unify all food security data and information.

A more prosperous future

Director General of Dubai Customs Ahmed Mahboob Musabih said: "At the Dubai Government, we all work with a united team spirit, which is the key to success in facing challenges and turning them into opportunities. The Food Security Dashboard reflects the solidarity and forward-thinking vision of government partners, who seek to adopt fourth industrial revolution tools and adopt artificial intelligence solutions, as the world prepares for a post-pandemic reality. This is also based on the national leadership’s vision for ensuring food security across all levels in a sustainable manner. Dubai Customs has supported the dashboard by ensuring the rapid provision of statistics and data on the trade of food commodities and materials through a messenger system which provides information on customs clearance of goods. Dubai registered Dh11 billion (2.87 million tons) worth of foreign trade related to food supply in the first quarter of the year.”

Capacity Building

Omar Bushahab, Chairman of the Dubai Food Security Committee said: "We successfully maintained long-term strategic stock for vital food commodities during the crisis period and formed teams for ensuring the safety of food supply, forecasting consumption patterns, monitoring the prices of basic food commodities, and protecting consumer rights. This brings to life the vision of our national leadership, which aims to achieve the highest levels of food security in Dubai, all the while contributing to integrated national efforts. Through the Food Security Dashboard, we aim to support Dubai’s Food Security Committee’s efforts to foster successful long-term planning and enable the country to meet all its needs efficiently.”

Bushahab praised the efforts of the team handling data within the Dubai Food Security Committee, which has deployed the latest technologies for enhancing food security. He also praised the efforts of government agencies, including the Dubai Municipality, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, the Dubai Airport Free Zone, and Dubai Economy. He noted that Dubai Municipality contributed to existing data on the Al Zad food security platform; Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation linked the data to the Mirsal customs declaration system for export and import of commodities; Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry offered analysis of data and information; Dubai Economy worked on linking the data with that of the Food Commodity Observatory; and Smart Dubai worked on developing the dashboard and finalising it.

Bushahab added: “This dashboard is backed by data-based knowledge and information from all partners involved in managing food stocks in Dubai. As we work on tackling the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and contributing to enhancing food security levels, we present this dashboard as a unique and practical system that can be used by cities around the world.”

Supporting Frontline Workers

Wesam Lootah, Chief Executive Officer at Smart Dubai said: “I thank the wise leadership for providing my team and myself with the opportunity to support the efforts of our frontline workers and the various government teams working around the clock to protect the health, safety and security of our community. We used fourth industrial revolution tools, artificial intelligence and data analytics to support decision-makers in maintaining food security in Dubai.”

He added: "In 10 days, the Smart Dubai team collaborated with public and private sector partners to establish an integrated data system which provides the leadership with the resources to take strategic decisions for ensuring the availability of food supplies in Dubai during the period of the global crisis. The dashboard was developed by young local experts using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, data analytics and solutions."