Norwegian fish flying onto Saudi tables

Norway ambassador Oyvind Stokke
Updated 16 October 2019

Norwegian fish flying onto Saudi tables

  • Ambassador Oyvind Stokke: Worldwide seafood exports were an important part of Norway’s blue economy and the country was also contributing to a positive trend of healthier lunches and dinners among Saudis

RIYADH: Norwegian salmon sales to the Kingdom have risen to $27 million this year, a 50 percent increase from the previous year, the country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has said.
Oyvind Stokke said that Norway’s salmon producers had sold 3.33 tons of salmon to Saudi Arabia in 2019, up from 2.3 tons last year.
“The increase in value has an even greater effect, from $18 million in 2018 to $27 million so far in 2019. Now, the sales of other seafood products like mackerel, are increasing in Saudi Arabia and I am very happy to see this development,” the ambassador told Arab News.
Worldwide seafood exports were an important part of Norway’s blue economy and the country was also contributing to a positive trend of healthier lunches and dinners among Saudis, he added.
“There is a shift going on in people’s food and eating habits. In that respect I look forward to receiving two Norwegian business delegations in the coming weeks.”
The 38th International Agriculture, Aquaculture and Agro-Industry Show in Riyadh, which is being held from Oct. 21 to Oct. 24, is hosting Skretting, Smart Farm, Green Cap, Innovation Norway and other firms, the ambassador said.
Visitors to the Saudi Horeca Exhibition in Riyadh, which is being held from Nov. 26 to 28, can get to know brands and organizations such as Norsk Sjømat, Salmar, Sekkingstad, Ocean Quality, Coast Seafood, Hofseth International, Kulinarisk Akademi, Coldwater Prawns of Norway and the Norwegian Seafood Council.
“Our aim is to show Saudis how to prepare and cook seafood in new ways,” Stokke said. But while the seafood export sector is booming, the tourism industry has yet to take flight.
There were a small number of Saudi visitors to Norway compared to other European destinations, but that number was steadily increasing, the envoy said.
“So far this year, 40 percent more Schengen visas to Norway have been issued. I welcome all Saudis to Norway, tourists, businesspersons, students or researchers.”
He said that while Norway may seem far away and that its climate could be a challenge, its environment was pure, clean, fresh and healthy.
“Some Norwegian travel agencies and (representatives from) destinations will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to meet with representatives of the outbound Saudi tourism sector,” he said, adding that this cooperation would draw attention to new attractions and hidden gems awaiting Saudi travelers.


Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

The Red Sea — one of the most beautiful seas for diving — will greatly encourage local tourism, says diving instructor Lujain Shugdar. She wants to have divers from abroad visit SaudiArabia. (Supplied)
Updated 13 min 47 sec ago

Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

  • Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks

JEDDAH: It’s almost business as usual again for many across Saudi Arabia after the lifting of lockdown — and divers are more excited than ever to be back at sea. Divers in the Kingdom are following the safety precautions issued by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and the General Directorate of Border Guard.
Lujain Shugdar, diving instructor at Jeddah’s Natlus Divers and two international organizations — the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and SNSI — and who has taught more than 150 students, said that the group had been on six diving trips since the lifting of lockdown.
Although international flights are yet to resume to the Kingdom, with the abundance of beautiful coral reefs along the Red Sea, Shugdar said that she wanted diving to be one of the main tourist activities in Saudi Arabia.
“The Red Sea is one of the most beautiful seas in the world for diving; it will greatly encourage tourism in the Kingdom. I want to encourage tourism in the Kingdom — whether for locals to enjoy or have divers from abroad visit us (later on),” she said.


With more than 30 years of service, Natlus offers many different activities such as free-diving, technical diving and recreational diving.
Shugdar said that Natlus were following the directives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to comply with full safety standards.
She explained that as directed by the authorities, the number of divers and people on a diving boat was half its normal capacity.
“We sanitize the boat and equipment before people board it. We also make sure all safety devices are working, and we add additional oxygen cylinders on board in case there is a need to use it. It’s usually one cylinder, but now we will add one regular cylinder and another big cylinder on the boat.”
“Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks. There will also be gloves and they will be changeable; a closed waste bin will also be available on board,” she said.
One can sense her feeling of relief and excitement after months away from the sea. When the authorities announced the return of diving and watersports activities, Shugdar immediately booked a diving trip.
“The sea is where you relieve stress from your personal and work life. It has a huge impact on one’s happiness and well-being. I’m so excited about this decision, and of course will follow all safety precautions to ensure our health and the health of the divers with us on board,” she said.
Saudi diver, Mishael Abdulaziz, 29, said that diving was one of the least likely sport activities to transmit COVID-19 as equipment was not usually shared.
“We don’t usually share equipment. Equipment is only shared during the very rare event of an out-of-air emergency,” she told Arab News.
“An out-of-air emergency is when one of the divers runs out of air unexpectedly due to poor planning or inattentiveness to the pressure gauge or air supply. In this instance, a buddy will share his or her air with the out-of-air diver.”
Even though dive centers thoroughly clean their equipment, many divers are encouraged to buy their own regulators as opposed to renting them to further avoid transmission.


Saudi-based Captain Issam Kalasina, King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Bay La Sun Marina Watersports and Yacht Club operations manager, said that they were very happy with the return of the activity, but there was a need to exercise caution.
Kalasina, who has been in the diving business for 42 years, told Arab News: “We are very happy to come back and resume the activity — with a certain limit.
“Only half the capacity is allowed on board at the moment to avoid social distancing issues and to ensure all safety precautions are being met on board. The number of passengers has been limited to half,  captain and crew included,” he said.
Kalasina said that following the safety precautions required by the pandemic, captains were assigned to have on board gloves, masks, gel sanitizers and liquid sanitizers.
“The gel sanitizer is for the hands, and the liquid sanitizer is for objects on the boat,” he said.
“The boat is completely sanitized and rinsed before we accept passengers on board; it is then sanitized and rinsed again after the trip is over.”