By Gavin Gibbon
UAE has sent aid to almost 10 countries every week since Covid-19 outbreak began
The UAE must break a “habit of excess” in order to ensure the success of the country’s food security strategy, according to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
Hosting his online Ramadan majlis, titled Nourishing the Nation: Food Security in the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said that every effort must be taken to avoid overuse and waste.
“We have a habit of excess that we need to restrain. If this excess or overspending is for a good cause, like charity, it is good and we support it, but overspending for no reason is bad,” he said.
"This is a key part of the food security strategy: how to think of our various natural resources such as water, food sources, energy and others.
“As we talk about rationalism and eliminating overuse, I would like to thank you for your efforts in educating people, because as you know, brothers and sisters, it is a cultural habit – one that comes from traditions that is hard to move away from without some challenges.
"We want to part ways with such traditions that are not useful to us and not Islamic as well.”
Sheikh Mohamed insisted this was an issue which requires the help of everyone in order to tackle.
He added: “This requires work in homes, schools and through different media outlets to raise awareness.
"UAE citizens and residents are very receptive and responsive. We can raise awareness about this issue to our people in the UAE and we will witness change very quickly."
Sheikh Mohamed praised not only the efforts to ensure food supplies in the UAE during the current Covid-19 crisis, but also the measures taken to help other countries in need amid the global pandemic.
He said: “Surely, there might be some shortages but you are feeding a country, a nation of nearly 10 million people, without noticeable change.
"Some countries were impacted. We wish them well and sympathise with them, and that is why you saw how your country, the UAE, rushed to send them aid.
"The UAE sent aid to nearly 10 countries every week. It is our duty towards our brothers, allies and friends as we see some countries in a difficult situation."
From the outset of the Covid-19 crisis, the Emirates Food Security Council was established and set up an early mechanism system to monitor food imports and local food production capacity potential.
The council also connected with the Food Security Alliance companies in the UAE to best prepare for all scenarios.
The remote majlis was attended by Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, who said: “In a way, going through this crisis is testing whether we have set up robust systems, and it has shown that this strategy has set the right foundation to be able to overcome this crisis.
The session also emphasised the value of supporting local agriculture. "Many people do not realise that the UAE grows much food. These foods are not only delicious because they are fresh, but they are also full of nutrients. We encourage the public to buy locally," Almheiri added.