The United Arab Emirates is considering a new federal law to harmonize food safety, a top Emirates official announced this week.

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Hahad, the UAE Minister of Environment and Water said that all of the Emirates will soon operate and be regulated under a single legal framework. He made the announcement at the sixth Annual Dubai International Food Safety Conference.

The food law is in process,” said Dr bin Fahad. “It took some time because we had to review local orders and measures. We are not simply introducing a law for the UAE, but one that is compatible and in harmony with international laws.”

According to the Emirate’s The National, Dubai has a population of 1.5 million people and approximately 13,500 food establishments under local jurisdiction. Dubai imports food from more than 160 countries. One official at the conference said that last year Dubai rejected 8 percent of all food imports due to non-compliance with safety standards.

Bill Marler, a food safety expert and managing partner of Marler Clark LLP, the publisher of Food Safety News, believes the UAE wants to improve their system.

“As an importer of over 90 percent of their food products from some 150 countries, Dubai needs to be in step with the rest of the world on food quality standards, both on imports and between the Emirates,” said Marler, who spoke at the recent food safety conference in Dubai.

“They UAE clearly wants to be the center of the Arab world as a destination for tourists.  Having a consistent plan between the Emirates allows for consistent inspections and application of the laws,” he added.