The United Arab Emirates is known for its oil and lavish construction projects. It is, however, widely unknown that one of the Emirates – Dubai – is a major exporter of camel milk, and of chocolate made out of it.
Umm NAHAD is a half-hour drive away from Dubai. “Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products” reads the name at the entrance gate. Camel milk has been produced here since 2006.
About 4,200 camels are kept in small enclosures, in so-called Paddocks, on a 1.5 square kilometer site. This corresponds to an area equivalent to that of some 210 football fields.
A maximum of 25 camels are kept in each paddock. In contrast to cows, it’s not possible to hold female camels in sheds as they are social animals and need their social groups.
Female camels are sensitive and stubborn. They will allow milking them only after feeding their calves. And even during the milking, the young calves have to stay near the mother.
Seven liters is the maximum amount of milk each camel gives per day. This is very little compared to that of central European cows, which give between 25 and 40 liters of milk a day.
The approximately 6,000 liters of camel milk per day are pasteurized after milking. Camel milk has 50 percent less fat than cow milk. In addition, there are more unsaturated fatty acids in camel milk than in cow milk. There are three to five times more vitamin C, substantially more vitamin B, more calcium and other minerals.
Two-thirds of the camel milk is directly sold, and milk powder is made from the rest of the milk.
The world’s first chocolate made from camel milk powder has been in production since 2008. Around 100 tons of the chocolate is being made every year. However, the chocolate mass is not produced in Dubai, but in Austria – where the know-how exists to transform the white gold into a sweet chocolate.
The chocolate mass is transported to the emirate from Austria. The cocoa comes from Ivory Coast, the vanilla from Madagascar and the milk from Dubai. Here the chocolate products are made and packaged. This exclusivity comes at a price, with a 70-gram pack costing about 6 euros.