Saudi's PIF sets up company to boost production of Ajwa dates

Move comes as part of sovereign wealth fund's focus on food and agriculture sectors

A man inspects dates at a farm in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia. AFP
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Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has established a new company to develop and boost production of Ajwa dates in the Madinah region as part of efforts to further enhance the kingdom's food and agriculture industry.

The new company, Al Madinah Heritage Company (MHC), will focus on promoting and distributing Ajwa dates domestically and internationally, in addition to boosting the development of other date varieties to meet growing global demand, a PIF statement on Sunday said.

It will also contribute to the wider development of sustainable agriculture in the Madinah region through the adoption of the latest technology in the sector.

Ajwa dates are widely considered among the finest in the world, due to their nutritional value and health benefits. They also have religious and cultural value in the Muslim world, particularly for visitors to the Madinah region.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most prominent producers and exporters of dates and its products have always been of the highest quality, catering to wide consumer demand," said Majed Al Assaf, head of consumer goods and retail in the Mena investments division at PIF.

"The date industry is a key component of Saudi Arabia’s food and agriculture sector and has an important role to play in the realisation of Vision 2030.”

One of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, the PIF is at the centre of the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative to diversify the country’s economy from hydrocarbons.

The total volume of the fund's assets under management amounts to more than 2 trillion Saudi riyals ($533 billion) and it aims to double that by 2025, Yasir Al Rumayyan, governor of the PIF, said in May.

The PIF has been instrumental in creating more than 500,000 jobs and “intends to create 1.8 million direct and indirect jobs”, he said.

The fund also intends to inject up to 1 trillion riyals into new projects in Saudi Arabia to support its efforts to "diversify the economy, support local content, develop innovative opportunities for the future and contribute to creating an attractive environment for investments”, he added.

In March, the PIF also announced three initiatives to boost the growth of the kingdom's private sector.

They include measures to increase the share of local content spending in PIF’s domestic portfolio to 60 per cent by the end of 2025 under its Musahama programme.

As part of its supplier development programme, the PIF will also seek to upskill local suppliers and vendors to meet the growing requirements of the fund's portfolio companies.

Meanwhile, the fund's private sector hub will provide companies with “greater visibility on supplier and investment opportunities” offered by the PIF and its portfolio entities.

Since 2017, the PIF has established 84 companies in 13 strategic sectors.

The setting up of MHC comes as part of the fund's strategic focus on the food and agriculture sector, it said.

The PIF has also set up the Saudi Coffee Company, which promotes Saudi Khulani coffee beans, the Halal Products Development Company and the Saudi Agricultural Investment and Livestock Production Company.

Last week, it also announced the setting up of Sawani, a new company to support the growth of the domestic camel farming industry.

Updated: July 23, 2023, 11:00 AM