The UAE currently imports approximately 87 per cent of its total food supply – but aquaculture and hydroponic farming could help build a more sustainable future, all while facilitating fresher, better-tasting dishes.
Atlantis, The Palm is one hotel that’s committed to putting locally sourced produce on the menu in Dubai. Currently, eight of its restaurants feature ingredients grown a cab ride away.
Raymond Wong, Chef de Cuisine at Atlantis’ Seafire Steakhouse, is among the culinary team creating the resort’s new selection of sustainable dishes.
“The goal is to have five different locally sourced products on the menus at all 23 restaurants in the Atlantis by the end of 2021,” says Wong.
Seafire Steakhouse dishes made with local ingredients include a mushroom risotto crafted with a selection of locally handpicked mushrooms, and organic beetroot-cured salmon carpaccio, featuring a jus made from UAE-based Green Fields Farms cucumbers, topped with crispy shards of Arabic bread.
Atlantis, The Palm is sourcing its salmon from Fish Farm, a marine breeding and hatchery facility in Jebel Ali, where the mission is to reduce the UAE’s dependency on imported fish, while supplying buyers with a product that tastes fresher.
“The locally farmed salmon is so fresh when it gets to us, it actually needs time to rest,” says Wong.
Supplying the resort’s leafy vegetables is nearby Oasis Greens and Uns Farm in Al Quoz, two of Dubai’s hydroponic farms with a zero-pesticide policy, using 90 per cent less water than traditional farming methods.
“When bought locally, micro-herbs and salad leaves last far longer before they start to wilt – and the taste is spectacular,” adds Wong.
Atlantis’ resort-wide, long-term sustainability drive has also placed locally sourced dishes on the menu at Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, Hakkasan, Ronda Locatelli, Nobu, Wavehouse, White Restaurant and The Shore.
Kelly Timmins, Director of Conservation, Education and CSR at Atlantis, The Palm, says: “Sustainability is a journey and to get there we need the involvement of our community. A key focus for Atlantis, The Palm is to look at increasing our use of local suppliers and vendors as part of our commitment to drive the whole local economy.”