How Dubai’s DMCC is pioneering kosher markets in the UAE

Sanjeev Dutta, Executive Director of Commodities and Financial Services at DMCC says that “since the signing of the UAE-Israel Peace Accord, we have seen a strategic shift across the region."

A man stands next to a giant menorah as people celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 10, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE)
A man stands next to a giant menorah as people celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 10, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE)
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre hosted a webinar on Sunday with experts from the Emirates Agency of Kosher Certification, the largest kosher certifier in the Gulf region, to discuss food and hospitality and kosher travel. This is important because the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf are seeing a major increase in Israeli and Jewish tourism with great potential for the year ahead as demand for kosher options grows.
Sanjeev Dutta, executive director of Commodities and Financial Services at DMCC says that “since the signing of the UAE-Israel peace accord, we have seen a strategic shift across the region, with enhanced commercial ties and a host of new opportunities all stemming from the agreement, with the kosher food market being a great example.” While the kosher industry has been growing steadily in the region, he says, the signing of the Abraham Accords has undoubtedly accelerated this growth, with demand in the UAE seeing a rapid and noticeable increase. “As Dubai’s authority on trade and enterprise, including the trade of agricultural commodities, supporting this growing industry is a natural step for DMCC. The webinar, held in partnership with the Emirates Agency on Kosher Certification, looked to support our 18,000 member companies by identifying the opportunities that the kosher food market presents and understanding how to capitalize on them.”

Sanjeev Dutta, Executive Director – Commodities and Financial Services, DMCC (Courtesy DMCC).Sanjeev Dutta, Executive Director – Commodities and Financial Services, DMCC (Courtesy DMCC). 
Having kosher certified products available across Dubai and the UAE provides many companies with instant access to a new customer base, Dutta says. According to reports, numerous hotels in the UAE are now offering or will offer kosher options. This is also the case with the Ritz-Carlton in Bahrain which began offering kosher cuisine last year. In the UAE the first kosher restaurant was announced last September and Elli Kriel has pioneered kosher catering since 2019.
“With more tourists and businesses visiting or setting up in Dubai as the relations between Israel and the UAE develop, this new market segment is only set to increase. Ensuring that businesses across the emirates are prepared for this new demand is essential,” says Dutta. Around 130,000 Israelis have already visited the UAE with some 70,000 in November and the first weeks of December when the skies were open without requiring quarantine upon return. Israel has now shut its airport temporarily but flights will likely resume. “It is steps like ensuring ample kosher-certified products are available in the UAE that will deepen our relationship with Israel, which will give rise to a whole host of new business and trade opportunities in the future,” says Dutta.
As the entity responsible for a growing business community of over 18,000 member companies, it is incumbent on us to support them wherever possible, he says. “Raising awareness about interesting new business opportunities helps them continue their success and growth, so hosting a webinar on kosher certification made perfect sense.” The kosher marketplace is definitely one of the key focus areas within the UAE’s food and beverage and agricultural sectors, the DMCC executive director stated. He pointed out that “the global kosher food market was valued at $19.1 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $25.6b. by 2026, growing at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 3.7% from 2019 to 2026. This shows there is a great opportunity for companies across the UAE to tap into.” This growth is driven by people associating kosher food with higher quality, but for the UAE specifically, we will see rapid growth in this sector as relations between the UAE and Israel continue to grow and more Israeli tourists visit Dubai and the other emirates, Dutta notes.
“Our mandate is to promote, attract and facilitate trade in Dubai, so as kosher products become more widely available in the UAE, this is what our role will be aligned with. What this looks like exactly remains to be seen, though we whole-heartedly support initiatives that drive trade through Dubai.”