Brunswick Review The Integrity Issue

Dubai Arabica

Owning coffee’s Arabic past, a new Coffee Centre explodes the potential for the booming bean’s future, says Brunswick’s Lulwa Rizkallah.

The world consumes vast amounts of coffee. Every day, around 2.25 billion cups of coffee are poured, creating an industry estimated to be worth over $100 billion.

The plant, with its aromatic bean, is thought to have originated in Ethiopia. However, the earliest accounts that describe the making of a hot beverage from roasted beans come from Arab scholars and date from the 15th century. The practice spread quickly from Yemen to Mecca and Cairo and through the Arab world, which dominated North Africa, Turkey, Spain and parts of Eastern Europe.

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The name “arabica” in fact comes from Linnaeus’ 18th century scientific classification of the “Coffea arabica” plant—a nod to coffee’s Arab associations.

Coffee still forms an integral part of Middle East culture. By 2021, Euromonitor estimates the region’s growing coffee industry will be worth $4.4 billion.

In February, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, the UAE’s largest free trade zone, inaugurated a state-of-the-art 7,500 square-meter temperature-controlled Coffee Centre. Designed to connect coffee producers and buyers, the Coffee Centre is the first facility of its kind in the Middle East, with services that include warehousing, logistical support, green coffee cleaning, contract roasting and packing, and training, as well as more specialized offerings.

At the official launch, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC, said: “The DMCC Coffee Centre places Dubai firmly at the heart of the global coffee trade.”

Dubai is a doorway to a significant emerging markets corridor extending through the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Because of its long history with coffee, it is also well connected to the coffee-producing regions of Africa, China, India, Latin America and South East Asia, Mr. Bin Sulayem said.

“Until now, the region simply did not have the capacity, equipment or expertise to facilitate global coffee trade on this scale,” Mr. Bin Sulayem said. “We anticipate further growth in the industry, especially with the establishment of the Coffee Centre.”

Dubai hopes to become the regional hub for coffee, complementing its current status as a commodities, finance and logistics hub. The facility’s presence on an important trade route should create opportunities for coffee producers. In turn, it will enable more businesses to accommodate and cater to the growing consumer demand.

Lulwa Rizkallah is an Associate with Brunswick, based in Dubai. Previously, she worked at the UN and with international NGOs in Europe and Lebanon.

Illustration: David Plunkert

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