The agri-foods giant has identified growing opportunities in the Gulf region as a result of rising population density there in recent years. The United Arab Emirates (UEA) had an estimated population of 4.5m in 2006, and this is growing by around 6.9 per cent a year. At the same time, GDP is high, estimated at US$49,500. This factor has led more international and local food manufacturers to establish and expand production in line with market needs, in turn stimulating demand for food ingredients. Rather than just being closer to its customers so as to deliver them supplies more quickly, Cargill is planning to work in close collaboration with local food companies to develop foods that cater to Middle Eastern tastes - both traditional and modern. The aim is after an end result that combine texture with flavour and healthy attributes. Cargill has been active in the UAE since 2005. Cargill Sweetness business already has a physical presence in Dubai, and several other ingredients divisions (Seara meat, health promoting and flavors), also have local expertise to hand. "We will combine our texturizing know-how with the complementary expertise locally available from Cargill's other Middle Eastern businesses… to provide our customers with synergistic, tailor-made and cost-effective solutions," said Denis Palacioglu, sales manager for Turkey, Middle East and Africa, who will run the office. Cargill Texturizing Solutions already has a sales office in Istanbul, Turkey. The texturizing business portfolio includes offerings in hydrocolloids, starch, soy, cultures, lecithins and functional systems. Cargill is certainly not alone in moving in on Middle Eastern opportunities. The Ingredients Middle East trade show, to take place in Dubai form 15 to 17 June 2008, expects the participation of around 125 companies from 30 countries. Other big players to have established a presence in the region include Germany's Wild, which opening its beverage ingredients manufacturing facility in the Middle East in November. Wild claimed to be the first supplier of its kind to expand in the Middle East. The plant, planned for four years, called for the investment of 100m Dirhams (€18.5m) for construction. Dubai's Food Processing industry was recently valued at US$ 3 billion, with annual growth of 11 per cent. According to Middle East Food magazine, food processing in UAE was the sector that attracted the highest investment in 2005 - almost US$9bn. The magazine also said that between 2002 and 2005 the number of food processing facilities in the UAE increased from 225 to 300.