Saudi Arabia's megacity project Neom and Tabuk Fish Company signed an agreement to develop the Middle East and North Africa's biggest fish farm as the kingdom diversifies its economy.
The agreement aims to expand local aquaculture production and apply the latest fish farming technologies in the futuristic Neom city, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The capacity and innovative nature of the hatchery, combined with top-notch technologies, will help position Saudi Arabia at the forefront of sustainable marine aquaculture," Nadhmi Al-Nasr, chief executive of Neom, said.
Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is rapidly transforming its economy to cut its dependence on oil revenue to fuel growth. To that end, the kingdom is developing a number of new projects including Neom, a $500 billion futuristic project consisting of a nature reserve, coral reefs and heritage sites on about 50 islands off the Red Sea coast.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is also injecting billions of dollars into the economy to spur growth. The fund will invest $40bn on an annual basis in 2021 and 2022, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Under Neom's new agreement with Tabuk Fish Company, the hatchery will operate with a capacity of 70 million fingerlings, making it the largest in the region, according to SPA.
The hatchery will focus on improving the production of local fish species in the Red Sea to contribute to fulfilling the kingdom's goal of producing 600,000 tonnes of fish products by 2030.
Tabuk Fish Company's collaboration with Neom is expected to generate jobs locally, according to Nasser A. Al-Sharif, chairman of Tabuk Fish Company.
"It will also attract top technology companies to Neom, allowing Tabuk Fish Company to establish a variety of new business opportunities and positively impact the Neom region and beyond."
Seafood consumption in the kingdom is projected to grow 7.4 per cent annually, with sustainable aquaculture growth key to meeting local and global demand for seafood, SPA said.
Last month, Saudi Arabia approved a new agriculture law which, when it comes into effect, will replace a number of other existing legislation related to fishing, livestock, beekeeping, investment and protection of living aquatic resources in the kingdom's territorial waters.
Separately, Neom also said that registration is open for its programme, which aims to equip students with English language skills, SPA reported.
The programme, which is being held in collaboration with the Prince Fahad bin Sultan University in Tabuk, is targeting 100 students from the Tabuk region with the aim of developing skills needed in the job market, the agency said.