Ministry of Agriculture to promote sea food consumption

Updated 05 December 2014
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Ministry of Agriculture to promote sea food consumption

The Ministry of Agriculture has stepped up efforts to halt the decline in seafood consumption and to boost fish production, which will go a long way in ensuring food security on national and regional levels. The ministry has also announced an ambitious target to produce one million tons of fish annually within a few years from now.
Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Aiadh, general director of aquaculture department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said here Wednesday that "the per capita consumption of fish and fish products stands at 9 to 10 kilograms annually in Saudi Arabia compared to about 62 kgs in Japan." He said: "We are also much below the global average in terms of consumption.”
Al-Aiadh was speaking at a press briefing after formally inaugurating the “Sea Food Festival” here at the Lulu Hypermarket. The inaugural event was attended by a large number of guests and top Lulu executives including Abdul Saleem, Lulu's regional manager; Shafeek Rahman, commercial manager; and Bashar Naser Al-Bashar, chief of administration.
Asked about move to promote sea food consumption in Saudi Arabia, Al-Aiadh said that "it’s a shared responsibility." He called on the private sector, the health professionals, the nutritionists and the media to join hands to generate awareness about the benefits of fish and fish products. He also called on them for reversing the decline in fish consumption among the younger generation.
He pointed out that the Saudi government has licensed several aquaculture farms in the Kingdom. To this end, it must be noted that the Ministry of Agriculture has already invested an additional $10.6 billion into aquaculture projects to produce one million tons of fish in the next 16 years.
Speaking at the press briefing, Abdul Saleem, Lulu regional manager, said that a variety of sea food including fish biryani, grilled sea food and fish sandwiches are also on sale. He pointed out that this is the fourth consecutive year for Lulu to hold the sea food festival in Saudi Arabia. The five-day long festival has been organized by all the Lulu Hypermarkets across the Kingdom.
Besides showcasing more than 100 varieties of fish including live fish for sale on this occasion, Lulu Hypermarkets across the Kingdom have organized colorful activities for kids and families on this occasion. A cooking contest has also been organized on the sidelines of the festival. "A variety of sea food including fish biryani, grilled sea food and fish sandwiches are also on sale," added Saleem.
He said that the festival is unique in the sense that it features some of the rare fish species imported from different corners of the world. They include Norwegian salmon, Egyptian tilapia, crabs, live lobsters, shrimps, oyster, cod fillet, and Canadian lobster.


Natural wonders replace manmade towers as Gulf states target ecotourists

Updated 18 min 25 sec ago
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Natural wonders replace manmade towers as Gulf states target ecotourists

LONDON: Gulf tourism bodies are competing to attract “ecotourists” as they look beyond traditional attractions to generate much-needed revenues.
Dubai-based Meraas last month revealed plans to turn the emirate’s mountainous Hatta region into an ecotourism destination, siting mountain lodges and “boutique” trailers along the banks of the Hatta dam.
In Saudi Arabia, a royal order in June established nine royal reservations, to be looked after by a board of directors to preserve the natural environment and limit overfishing or overgrazing.
These are some of the efforts the region is making to attract more tourists to its “natural wonders,” with the aim of increasing the contribution tourism makes to their economies that have been reliant on oil.
To date, Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector has been dominated by those visiting for religious purposes — such as for the Hajj pilgrimage this month. Tourist visas for international visitors have been hard to obtain, though the Kingdom is looking to make it easier.
In the UAE, the average tourist is unlikely to even be aware of the mountain ranges, wadis, and nature reserves that lie just a relatively short drive from their sun lounger, choosing to spend their time in the country’s malls, hotel pools and beaches.
But this is due to change, said Anthony Hobeika, chief executive officer, Mena Research Partners.
“We expect ecotourism to be a key traction to investors during the next period, as UAE continues on its tourism push with a diversified and wider range of offerings to international as well as domestic tourists.
Meraas’ latest investment in Hatta demonstrates this potential diversification away from high-end glamor to more rustic attractions. The company’s previous developments include Dubai’s luxury Nikki Beach Residences and the Bulgari Residence.
The mock-up pictures provided by Meraas so far suggest the experience will be more “glamping” than roughing it in the wild.
“Hatta is known for its beautiful scenery — mountains, lakes, wadis, farms, dams and fresh air and the development of ecotourism demonstrates our commitment at Meraas to implementing the vision of our wise leadership by creating economic opportunities for young people,
local businesses and entrepreneurs in Hatta,” said Abdulla Al-Habbai, group chairman at Meraas in July.
Globally ecotourism is growing in popularity as a way of minimizing the environmental footprint of travel, and using tourism to benefit locals, preserve culture and look after nature.
It is a trend other areas of the Gulf have capitalized on already, said Benjamin Carey, managing director at the consultancy Carey Tourism. He has previously worked on eco-tourism projects across the Middle East and is currently working on projects in India, Laos and Yemen.
“Emirates like Ras Al-Khaimah are being very clever in terms of creating high-margin and relatively low-impact adventure tourism products in a natural heritage environment,” he said.
“They are investing heavily in marketing because they recognize the importance of destination marketing and management — and also know that the oil-rich Emirati economy needs to diversify.”
“From a demand perspective, it must be remembered that the most important markets for ecotourism are middle-class professionals and urban elites, especially those
attracted by five-star hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Glamping, ecolux, expensive mountain bikes: These are all attractive short-term adventures for (those who) want to experience “ecotourism-lite,” he said.
Last December, Oman made inroads into the eco-tourism sector, with the opening of an Arabian Oryx sanctuary to the public, giving tourists a chance to see the rare desert dweller that had been hunted to extinction in the wild.
In July, the UAE launched its National Ecotourism Project in a bid to improve its marketing of eco-attractions to tourists.
The project will promote UAE’s “natural wonders” across 43 protected areas, including the Wadi Al Wurayah Nature Reserve in Fujairah where you might glimpse a rare Arabian leopard and the Al Wathba Reserve in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai where flocks of flamingos gather.
A website and app will be launched to raise awareness of these protected areas and encourage travel agencies to include them in travel packages.
“The UAE seeks to leverage the fast-paced development witnessed in all sectors, particularly in the sustainable tourism domain that includes eco-friendly flights, hotels, beaches and campsites,” said Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, minister of climate change and environment.
However, regional developers keen to offer ecotourism breaks will need to work with local communities, Carey warned.
“Ecotourism cannot be imposed on a community. Bedouin, even if increasingly only semi-nomadic, have traditional land rights and must be involved in destination management and development,” he said.
“A green golf course is not eco-tourism. A key dimension of eco-tourism development involves working within the limits of local resources, conserving and safeguarding natural, cultural and social heritage,” he added.
Gulf economies have increasingly benefited from the growing contribution of the tourism sector to their GDP, a welcome development given recent low oil prices.
In Saudi Arabia, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP grew by 4.6 percent in 2017, according to statistics from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Last year, the sector contributed SR240.9 billion ($64.2 billion) or 9.4 percent to the Kingdom’s GDP, with the WTTC forecasting this share will reach 10.9 percent by 2028.
In the UAE, total contribution of travel and tourism was 154.1 billion dirhams ($41.95 billion) or 11.3 percent of GDP in 2017, according to WTTC. It is forecast to rise by 4.9 percent this year. By 2028, the sector will represent 10.6 percent of GDP, according to the council’s estimates.