United Arab Emirates-based agricultural technology firm Pure Harvest Smart Farms raised $60 million as it looks to expand across the Gulf at a time when the pandemic has exposed risks to food security in the region.

The company’s latest funding consists of a $50 million structured Islamic bond led by Dubai-based finance firm Shuaa Capital PSC, alternative investment manager Sancta Capital Group and Franklin Templeton Investments (ME) Ltd.

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Supply disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted the potential food security risks for countries like the UAE, whose desert climate with soaring summer temperatures means it has to import most of its food from abroad. The country has lately been supporting local food production and investing in greenhouses, aqua culture and vertical farms.

“We have conquered this extreme climate,” said Pure Harvest’s founder and chief executive, Sky Kurtz. “We developed a solution in one of the harshest laboratories in the world, the Middle East, particularly the UAE with its extreme heat and humidity.”

Pure Harvest will use the funds to grow its presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Kurtz said. It will also diversify its product offering, invest in research and development, and explore other countries to export its technology.

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