People don’t normally associate the humble Frisian with the UAE, however, Al Ain Farms has close to 10,000 cows living just north of Al Hili. Spinneys drops in to learn more about the local dairy's history
New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands and Wales: these are the countries that spring to mind when you think of the familiar black and white Holstein Friesians cows. Synonymous with open fields, lush green meadows and rolling hills, the last place you’d expect to find them is in the desert just outside of Al Ain, but that’s where Al Ain Farms has been rearing its ever-increasing happy herd and it all started way back in 1981.
The first Friesians
When Al Ain Farms was founded by Sheikh Zayed in 1981, it became the first company to deliver fresh milk to the UAE. Back then, the farm started with 200 imported Friesian cows, with the herd more than doubling by 1985. The popularity of the dairy’s fresh milk led to multiple expansions and by 1990, there were three farms and a dairy processing plant that enabled the company to increase not only its volume but allowed it to create more varied dairy products.
By the mid-2000s, the dairy was producing 100,000 litres of milk per day which helped it win the prestigious Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award – one of the highest commercial accolades in the UAE. All three farms merged into one single farm in Al Foah in 2011 and over recent years, a juice and UHT factory was also added.
Today, Al Ain Farms has 10,000 cows, 1,800 camels and produces 7 million broiler chickens a year. Working across the four farms are 2,200 staff from 37 different nations, and all are passionate about taking care of the animals that help produce the company’s delicious milk, cheese, yoghurt, laban, camel milk, poultry, eggs and delicious desserts as seen below.