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Qatar tribune

Tribune News Network

Abu Dhabi

The UAE Pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha, in partnership with the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), co-hosted two days of interactive programs in Qatar sharing insights on agricultural practices, innovations, and UAE-based efforts to develop and strengthen sustainable local food systems.

On Thursday, January 25, Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, director general of ICBA, led an engaging dialogue on ‘Agricultural Practices in the UAE and the Impact on Sustainable Food Systems’ at Expo 2023, and was joined by Dr. Mohammad Shahid, a geneticist at ICBA. The discussion was moderated by Nour El Jundi, a proposal development specialist at ICBA.

Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi presented ICBA’s new book entitled ‘Agricultural Practices in the UAE: Heritage and Science’, emphasised the importance of drawing on both traditional agricultural practices and scientific research to innovate and create holistic solutions to enhance food security.

She also shed light on global discussions around agriculture, noting that: “The world is actively discussing sustainable agriculture, raising the pertinent question: ‘What were the practices of people in the past?’ ICBA is collaborating with various partners to explore this and delve into methods like regenerative agriculture.”

She also noted the role of the book as a tool to engage a wide audience that can facilitate the transfer of knowledge across generations while sharing practices and sustainable history.

During the session, ICBA’s Dr. Mohammad Shahid discussed native and cultivated plants in the UAE and Qatar, highlighting multipurpose plants like salicornia - which is found in both countries - that thrive in saline environments. The audience included Ibrahim Al Alawi, commissioner general for the UAE Pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha, as well as commissioner generals from across Expo 2023, and members of the diplomatic community.

On Friday, January 26, the UAE Pavilion hosted an experiential food pop-up titled ‘Nourishing Ourselves, Nourishing Nature’, with ICBA’s Halophytic Kitchen Lab, to introduce guests to recipes featuring salt-tolerant plants, including salicornia, quinoa, and millets.

Throughout the day, the public enjoyed live cooking demonstrations and tasted gluten-free salicornia falafels, “quinotto” (a risotto dish where quinoa is substituted for rice) with a salicornia pesto, and a millet-date pudding dessert. They also had the opportunity to try fresh salicornia, which can be used in salads. The event was attended by around 250 guests from all around the world.

The live cooking session was led by Chef Luca Cobre from the Healthy Farm Eatery, joined by the ICBA team, who discussed how to incorporate these climate-resilient and nutritious crops into everyday dishes. Nour El Jundi emphasised the nutritional benefits of these crops in addressing diet-related diseases, given their richness in both macro and micronutrients.

The UAE Pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha opened in October 2023 and runs through 28 March 2024. It will continue to welcome its guests for a multisensory journey under the theme ‘Nurturing Legacy’, which details the UAE’s agricultural legacy and its pioneers and dreamers who contribute to food resiliency and sustainability, while also offering a vibrant public program. For more information about the UAE Pavilion, visit our website: https://uaepavilionexpo.com.

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