Saudi joint venture targets 20,000 tonnes of fish per year
Saudi Arabia has confirmed plans for a 20,000-tonnes-per-year fish farming operation at Neom, an ambitious urban development planned to the northwest corner of the kingdom by the Red Sea.
Endorsed by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), the joint venture, Topian Aquaculture, aims to support the National Livestock and Fisheries Development Program’s goal of producing 600,000 tonnes of fish products annually by 2030.
The JV builds on a Memorandum of Understanding between Neom and Tabuk Fisheries Company signed in 2021 and will include a hatchery that is expected to become the largest in the Middle East and North Africa region by the end of 2024.
The hatchery has a planned capacity of 42 million fingerlings and there will be marine pens in which production of finfish is projected to reach 20,000 tonnes per year.
Topian has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Abu Dhabi-headquartered recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) provider Pure Salmon, to establish a land-based facility at Neom that will cover the full value chain of salmon production. Pure Salmon was granted operating and investment licences for Saudi Arabia last year.
Tabuk Fisheries was established in 2005 and started its activities in 2008 for the cultivation of various species of fish with floating cages in seawater. It now operates three farms with a production target volume about 5,000 tonnes per year of farmed fish. The current production capacity of the project is around 2,000 tonnes per year.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, chief executive 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.”
Nasser A. Al-Sharif, chairman of Tabuk Fisheries Company, said: “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.”
Megacity in the desert
Neom is a new urban area planned to be built in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province. The site is north of the Red Sea, east of Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba and south of Jordan.
The total planned area of Neom is 26,500 km². The city's plans include multiple regions, including a floating industrial complex, global trade hub, tourist resorts and a linear city powered by renewable energy sources. It was launched in 2017 by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Developers intend for the majority of the city to be completed by 2039, although some experts have expressed scepticism about the ambitions of the project, according to Wikipedia.
Saudi Arabia originally aimed to complete major parts of the project by 2020, with an expansion completed in 2025, but by July 2022, only two buildings had been constructed, and most of the project area remained bare desert.