Abu Dhabi caters to chef competition
Organisers aim to showcase talent in the preparation and presentation of food.
Abu Dhabi: Professional chefs from Abu Dhabi and the region will gather in the capital, from November 22 to 24, to compete at the region's first La Cuisine Du SIAL cooking competition.
Organised by the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Emirates Culinary Guild and endorsed by the World Association of Chefs' Societies, the competition will run alongside SIAL Middle East at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The competition provides a spectacular showcase for chefs to show their skills, techniques and culinary styles in bakery, pastry and confectionery, ice-carving, artistic showpieces, and practical cookery. It is an exciting event dedicated to celebrating the preparation and presentation of food in attractive and pleasing forms, said a statement issued by the organisers.
The competitions are open to any professional chefs regardless of age, position or workplace.
Alen Thong, coordinator of the Emirates Culinary Guild and director of La Cuisine Du SIAL, commented: "The festival presents a great opportunity for professional chefs to test and assess themselves against the limits of their perceived abilities, and to clearly present to the industry their artistic and practical attainments. The competition is a platform for professionals to display their myriad talents, network with their peers, interact, and exchange information."
Competitions serve to hone the culinary craft and artistic identity of chefs by obliging them to demonstrate their talents in a formal setting, directly to their peers.
Irradiated food poses no threat to people's health
No radiation or foreign genetic material found in treated foodstuff
- By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 25, 2010
Abu Dhabi: Food which has been treated with radiation to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria is completely safe for consumption and people should be less wary of consuming these foods, a leading food security expert said in the capital yesterday.
Contrary to popular opinion, irradiated foods (products treated with any kind of radiation ï¿½ including electron beams and X-rays) do not, in fact, contain any kind of radiation or foreign genetic material, said David Byron, head of the food and environmental protection section at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who is also working in conjunction with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
"It is a shame that people still think irradiated food can be harmful, especially as they have been deemed safe by expert scientists at the FAO, IAEA and the UN," Byron told Gulf News.
He was speaking at the SIAL 2010 Irradiation Seminar yesterday, in which international radiation experts met with food security and nuclear safety officials to discuss the benefits and hazards of irradiated food.
Byron noted at the seminar that although irradiated food was slightly more expensive compared to food treated with pesticides, the radiation could be used to reduce insecticide use while also preventing crop damage by pests.
"The growth of agricultural productivity been falling steadily since the 1960s, and is projected to fall to 0.4 per cent by 2040. This is far too low to meet the growing population worldwide," he said.
Byron added that irradiation techniques could provide a much-needed remedy to reverse the fall in agricultural output.
"Most importantly, radiation is simply used to speed up natural gene mutation processes in plant products so that genes which improve the quality of the fruit form quicker. Since no foreign materials are injected into healthy fruit, there are no health risks at all," Byron explained.
Date Palm Festival brings fresh sweetness to capital
Event provides opportunities for market growth
- By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 23, 2010
- Scores of school children attended the first day of the Date Palm Festival at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The event is also providing an opportunity for artisans to showcase their work.
Abu Dhabi: Over 100 exhibitors are participating at the Fourth International Date Palm Festival, which began yesterday and will run until Saturday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
Previously hosted in Al Ain, the festival is being held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and organised by Turret Media in collaboration with UAE University, the Khalifa International Date Palm Award and Date Palm Friends Society.
"Over 100 exhibitors and four national pavilions from Oman, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco will join forces to stage a remarkable display of the date varieties and provide additional opportunities for market growth in food services [internationally]. We have received tremendous support from the Abu Dhabi government as the event celebrates the traditional value of the date palm tree, which is beloved by our Rulers. Our aim is to grow with this exhibitionï¿½ and bring in more pavilions, especially from Europe," Qaboos Khalid, Director of the Festival, Turret Media, said.
The Fourth International Date Palm Festival is not only bringing together date professionals from around the UAE and the region, but is also providing an opportunity for artisans and traditional handicraft makers to showcase their work.
The festival is being held concurrently with SIAL Middle East, the world's largest international food trade exhibition and conference.
"This is the first time we participate in both eventsï¿½we're very excited because each will help to highlight a different aspect of our Sougha initiative," said Leila Ben Gacem, Manager, Entrepreneurship Development Department, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
"At SIAL, we hope that we will be able to speak to various organisations, including government departments, to allow us to supply them with traditional handicrafts for various events, while at the Date Palm Festival we will be showcasing the results of our one month project that was conducted in three towns to revive date palm weaving as well as launch our first collection of palm wood products," she added.
The Community of Nutrition Department at Al Tawaam Hospital has organised a Date Palm Oasis at the event to give visitors a real life feeling of being in a desert oasis surrounded by date palm trees.
The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) is hosting a Date Tasting Area which allows visitors to taste around 200 varieties of dates from all around the world.
Adach is also presenting traditional dance and music performances.
UAE must develop a more self-sufficient food industry
The UAE must use technology to become self-sufficient in food production, says senior official
- By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 23, 2010
Abu Dhabi: The current instability in world food prices means that the UAE must invest in high-tech agricultural methods to become self-sufficient, a senior official said in the capital on Monday.
High-tech methods must be used in order to maximise resource utilisation and prevent waste of agricultural resources, Ala'a Al Din Hassan Mousa, senior economic researcher at the Department of Economic Development, said.
"There is a definite gap between the kind of technology available and the ones that farmers here use, and greater investment is necessary so that unfavourable weather conditions and changes in export policy around the world do not jeopardise the population's access to food commodities," Mousa told Gulf News.
He was speaking at the SIAL Middle East 2010, a food summit and exhibition that saw food suppliers, retailers and government officials discuss current trends and challenges in the world food market.
Mousa said guaranteeing price stability and access to food was very important because changes in the price of an essential product like food affected all communities in the UAE, especially low-income groups.
"What is especially worrying is that although farmers can produce self-sufficient amounts of certain food groups like fruits and vegetables, they are unable to do so because they do not have access to high-tech production and irrigation methods," he said.
"In fact, prices of fruits and vegetables increased much more in the last year than the overall consumer price index [which is used to measure inflation rate]," Mousa said.
"Because the UAE relies exclusively on food imports, developing self-sufficiency in some strategic food items like fruits and vegetables is imperative," he added.
The researcher also said that one of the key challenges in getting farmers to adopt new methods of production was the lack of financial resources, especially in the case of small farms.
"In addition, the returns to the investment are not immediate, so many farmers need government support in order to change agricultural methods," he said.
If farmers have access to proper technology, they can also remain aware of market needs so they do not produce more than the required amount of crops in a given year, which can lead to wastage, Mousa added.
Abu Dhabi to host GCC ministerial forum
Participants will discuss food safety policies
- Published: 00:00 November 21, 2010
Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi will host the first GCC ministerial forum for integrated food policies from tomorrow to Wednesday under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The forum is organised by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), of which Shaikh Mansour is chairman.
A statement said: "The ADFCA and the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water will host the ministers of agriculture and environment from several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Romania, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan for extensive discussions on food security."
The event is organised on the fringes of the first Middle East edition of SIAL, one the world's leading trade exhibitions for all those involved in the food industry.
This forum will explore the development of an integrated food policy for the Gulf by seeking common standards of food risk assessment and safety.
Food security to top menu at Abu Dhabi exhibition
GCC nations to formulate vision for future
- By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 17, 2010
- GCC nations are expected to formulate a vision for the food security for the region during a ministerial conference on the sidelines of SIAL Middle East.
- Image Credit: Gulf News Archive
Abu Dhabi: The population of the Arab world is expected to reach 480 million by the year 2030 and it is a huge responsibility to guarantee safe, secure and nutritious food for such large numbers of people.
GCC nations are expected to formulate a vision for the food security for the region during a ministerial conference on the sidelines of SIAL Middle East, the regional edition of the world's largest food industry exhibition.
"In the Arab world, food crises lurch behind us menacingly as a result of the increase in populations and the decline in resources. We hope the ministerial conference on November 23 will result in the formulation of a vision for permanent joint work towards food security and safety for the fraternal countries of the region," Rashid Al Shariqi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, said during a press conference at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) while announcing details of the exhibition.
The three-day event will open on Monday at Adnec, with 1,000 brands by 300 exhibitors from 30 countries on display.
Under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Chairman of ADFCA, the event is organised by Turret Media in collaboration with Comexposium.
About 80 per cent of exhibitors belong to the international food industry. It will bring together 30 date manufacturing companies and host date trade buyers at the show.
The show will also feature nine national pavilions from Argentina, China, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Lebanon, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.
The workshop on the dates will showcase the UAE's history and heritage, Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, director of communications and community services at ADFCA, said.
Al Shariqi said the Middle East region's food industry is valued at around $35 billion (Dh126.5 billion), of which GCC countries account for nearly $12 billion (Dh44.07 billion). "From the vantage point of Abu Dhabi, global firms in the food industry will approach around 2 billion consumers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia," he said.
Highlighting the specialised line-up of featured events that run alongside the exhibition such as the Purchasers Club and the Unido Investment Meetings, the officials said the event will trigger more investments in food industry, thus giving the UAE's $6.78 billion food industry a substantial boost.
- What: SIAL Middle East ministerial conference
- When: November 22-24
- Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
Date palm festival a hit with visitors to UAE
International Date Palm Festival in Abu Dhabi a showcase for culture, products
- By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 25, 2010
Abu Dhabi: The Fourth International Date Palm Festival is proving to be a hit as visitors are being offered the chance to not only learn about UAE culture but also to interact with participants offering a variety of unique products and services.
"I just began working in Abu Dhabi in September so I haven't had the chance to see some the festivals that take place here. I heard about the festival and decided to come and have a look. I didn't know there were so many products that can be made from dates, including date ice cream and also the fact that there are so many varieties of dates in both the UAE and the Middle East," said Alicia Winston, an Australian expatriate who is a marketing executive.
"I also liked seeing Emirati women creating traditional handicrafts and learning a bit about the technique. I actually bought a few things, such as book covers and pouches, because I couldn't resist the beautiful designs," she added. With more visitors, including families expected to arrive to the festival over the weekend, participants revealed that they are keen to showcase what they have to offer.
"We've had very positive feedback so far from visitors who told us they were impressed by the quality of the products created by students such as the candles, badges and other items that were created in a special workshop for both the festival and the upcoming National Day," said Rafat Ahmad Elhomshary, Coordinator, Vocational Training Department, Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care, Special Needs and Minors' Affairs, Al Ain.
"We always try to participate at such events as much as possible to not only highlight the students' efforts and achievements but to also reach out to communities here," he added.
Significance of palm trees highlighted at festival
Competitions and workshops to raise awareness
- By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 24, 2010
- Dates of various shapes and sizes are on display during the first day of the Date Palm Festival held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
- Image Credit: Alex Westcott/Gulf News
Abu Dhabi: Date palm trees have played a significant role in the development of the UAE's sustainability because of the wide range of products that can be developed not only from the date, but from the trees themselves, it was revealed at the Fourth International Date Palm Festival.
The significance of dates and date palm trees is being highlighted throughout the festival, with participants displaying various date or date tree products, as well as details about the techniques used to cultivate them.
Organisers also provided a number of competitions and workshops designed to raise awareness about dates.
"The date palm tree plays a very important role in our culture and heritage and is significant in the sustainable development of the UAE. This is evident through the many agriculture programmes that are being supported by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces," said Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm.
The five-day festival, which is being held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and organised by Turret Media in collaboration with UAE University, the Khalifa International Date Palm Award and the Date Palm Friends Society, is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
"As part of the cultural programme of the award, we have set up various stands, including the Knowledge Oasis, where visitors and guests can learn everything about dates, the date palm tree, their importance and, of course, the health benefits of dates. We are also displaying over 58 varieties of dates that are unique to the UAE, with an expert on hand to answer any questions about them, or the methods used to cultivate and package them," Dr Abdul Wahab Al Zayed, Secretary General of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, said.
"We are also exhibiting works by various artists, such as Sarmad Abdullah who has used parts of the trees that are normally considered as "waste" to create a wide variety of new items.
"The proceeds of their sale will all go towards various humanitarian organisations," he added.
Organisations, such as the Zayed Higher Organisation for Special Needs, are displaying craft work created in a special date workshop, including jewellery and candles, while the UAE University is hosting workshops for schools and children that emphasise the wide variety of products that can be created from dates and palm trees.
"This is the first time we visited the Date Palm Festival. We decided to come because we are learning about palm trees and dates in our social studies project, their importance and uses in Emirati culture. The festival is wonderful in that it's providing the students with a chance to not only see the different aspects of Emirati culture but discover new uses for dates and the different parts of date palm trees that we didn't know about," said Ma'azaoui, a teacher at Al Yasmina School.
Variety of dates wows visitors
Abu Dhabi Date Palm Festival conclude.
- By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
- Published: 00:00 November 28, 2010
Abu Dhabi: Traditional handicraft, performances, competitions and artworks completed the six-day Fourth International Date Palm Festival at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), which ended on Saturday.
Over 100 participants joined this year's festival, which also hosted four country pavilions from Oman, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco.
"I didn't know there were so many varieties of dates and that you could make all these products from them, such as date milkshakes.I even tried a date stuffed with cheese, which was surprisingly delicious," said Michael O'Brien, an Irish expatriate who is an information technology consultant.
Additionally, parents were able to leave their children at the Kids Corner, where they were able to draw, paint, participate in various workshops and even have their faces painted and their photographs taken. The section was under the supervision of Hana Amarf, an art teacher at the Mariam Bint Omaron School, Cycle 2, whose pupils also displayed artworks created specifically for the festival.
"We always participate in festivals and competitions. The works we exhibited at this festival were created by pupils from various grades using different mediums... We began working on them in September. The pieces that have received the greatest amount of feedback were our two mixed media portraits. The girls used pieces of palm wood, rope, canvas and other materials to create landscape portraits of the UAE, one of which was chosen by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Vice-President of Abu Dhabi University's Board of Trustees to be hung in his office," said Hana.
Another feature of the festival was the week-long series of performances and competitions by schools from across the capital that showcased plays, songs and tested pupils' knowledge about dates and the UAE.
Accolades: Successful event
Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa International Date Palm Award, congratulated President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces as well as the organisers of the Fourth International Date Palm Festival on the success of the event, which saw over 100 participants representing 15 countries from across the region and the world.