Mangoes have been cultivated in the UAE as far back as the 1970s and, since 2011, the fruit has been a regular contender among the locally grown produce on display at the Liwa Date Festival.
Fatma Al Kalbani, director of agricultural development for the Ministry of Environment and Water, says the UAE’s hot climate encourages mango farming, as does the country’s sandy soil, high humidity and warm temperatures. Mango trees also need deep soil for their extensive root systems – another element available here in the UAE.
“The sandy soil in the UAE makes it very suitable for mango trees to grow,” says Ahmed El Sheikh, a fruit specialist working in Fujairah. “It allows water to access the tree’s root system much easier than clay soil and the high humidity in Fujairah is also key for their growth.”
The Lemon Tree Nursery in Fujairah has made mangoes its speciality. The farm grafts and reproduces dozens of varieties of mangoes in an effort to see which cultivars are best suited for the UAE’s agricultural environment. The mangoes grown are of two categories: the winter crop, which produces the garat, ghazal and nam doc mai varieties, and the summer crop, which consists of more than 60 varieties, including the Alphonso, kesar and Tommy Atkins.
Of the UAE’s 140,000 mango trees, about half are in Fujairah – specifically on the east coast – because of its suitable humidity and temperature. Over the years, the number of farms have grown in size, with locations now in Liwa, Ras Al Khaimah, Al Ain and even Abu Dhabi.