Saudi Arabia joint venture heralds big sea farming expansion

Tabuk Fisheries pens

The aquaculture industry in Saudi Arabia is set for significant growth following the announcement of a new joint venture between NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s development organisation, and fish farming business Tabuk Fisheries Company.

Trading as Topian Aquaculture, the new venture will include a hatchery that is expected to become the largest in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region by the end of 2024. The hatchery has a planned capacity of 42 million fingerlings and marine-pen production facilities, with production of finfish in the pens projected to reach 20,000 tonnes per year.

The strategic agreement was unveiled at the Saudi International Marine Exhibition (SIMEC) in Riyadh.

NEOM’s interest in the joint venture will be exercised through Topian, the organisation’s food company. Its aim is “to develop a robust, sustainable aquaculture sector in the Kingdom to support food security and self-sufficiency, and ensure the production of fresh, healthy seafood in Saudi Arabia and beyond”.

Tabuk Fisheries was established in 2005 and started raising fish in sea cages from 2008. Since then, it has expanded the number of farms and cages and now operates three farms with a production target volume of about 5,000 tons per year of farmed fish. The current production capacity of the project is around 2,000 tons per year.

The company focuses on three warm-water species: sea bream, Asian sea bass (also known as barramundi) and meagre (also known as croaker).

Nasser A. Al-Sharif, Chairman of Tabuk Fisheries Company, said, announcing the deal: “We are excited to bring the joint venture with NEOM to fruition. Tabuk Fisheries Company has built a strong foundation, producing high-quality marine fish for the local market, and the joint venture will allow for the adoption and integration of next generation technologies, propelling Topian Aquaculture to the forefront of sustainable development.”

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, said: “Topian Aquaculture reflects NEOM’s mission to implement innovative solutions that strengthen key industry sectors, while mitigating our impact on the environment. The strategic joint venture with Tabuk Fisheries Company highlights the role collaboration plays in NEOM’s goal of redefining business and in meeting the national objectives of Saudi Arabia.”

Representatives of NEOM and Tabuk Fisheries signing the joint venture agreement, February 2024

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