Global food prices have been rising for some time, are predicted to rise up to 20% in 2011, and have played a background role in the successful and ongoing popular uprisings in North Africa. Now, United Arab Emirates' The National reports that several states in the Middle East have begun reinforcing stockpiles of food staples, with the stated motivation being to offset potential resource scarcity.
I wonder if what's not being publicly stated is that these states also want to head off one of the motivations for people taking to the streets and demanding new government.
Last month, Jordan cut taxes on food and fuel. Saudi Arabia announced plans to double the kingdom's wheat reserves to 1.4 million tonnes, or enough to satisfy demand for a year. This month, the director general of the UAE's National Crisis and Energy Management Authority said a proposal to build emergency reserves of food, water and medicine would be submitted to the Cabinet in April. Abu Dhabi started building a strategic water reserve last year.
Regardless of motivation, this is something we're no doubt going to see more of as climate change, resource and energy scarcity, water challenges, etc deepen.