In the pink: Saudis’ love for seafood feeding Norwegian salmon sales

In the pink: Saudis’ love for seafood feeding Norwegian salmon sales
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Updated 01 October 2023
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In the pink: Saudis’ love for seafood feeding Norwegian salmon sales

In the pink: Saudis’ love for seafood feeding Norwegian salmon sales
  • Value of fish exports to Kingdom rose to $66.4m in 2022.
  • Norway is world’s second-largest seafood exporter with annual sales of $14bn.

ALESUND: A growing passion for seafood in Saudi Arabia is helping to drive demand for Norwegian salmon, according to an industry official from the European nation.

Ingelill Jacobsen, project manager for emerging markets at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said exports of the fish to the Kingdom rose to $66.4 million last year.

With sales in the first eight months of this year exceeding $44.4 million, Jacobsen said she expected the full-year total to be even higher than in 2022.

Based in Tromso, the NSC is a public company owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. It has played a significant role in driving sales of salmon in the Middle East.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of Norwegian salmon to Saudi Arabia totaled just $27 million, though that was itself a 50 percent rise from the previous year.

Norway is the world’s second-largest exporter of seafood. Its sales in 2022 topped $14.1 billion, with Poland, France and the US among the biggest buyers.

In November, representatives from the NSC will take part in the Saudi Food Expo in Riyadh in a bid to promote greater cooperation in the fields of aquaculture and aquaculture technology, according to Jacobsen.

“At the moment, we are managing the Middle East from Norway, but in the future we will appoint a representative to be on the ground in the region,” she told journalists at a media event in Alesund, a port town on the west coast of Norway.

The Middle East is a growing market, with exports of Norwegian seafood to the region hitting SR1.4 billion ($373.3 million) in 2022.

“The Saudi food and health authorities are doing great work with increasing the consumption of seafood to improve the health of the people, reduce obesity and cardiac diseases. For the NSC it would be great to assist in this work,” she said.

“Many Norwegian aquaculture technology companies are now cooperating with the industry in the Kingdom, and there have been several visits both from Norway to the Kingdom and from the Kingdom to Norway.”

She added: “Seafood production (in Norway) is strongly regulated by licenses, biology, animal welfare and sustainability, and we don’t want demand to be a factor that in any way undermines any of these concerns.

“Norway was the first country to successfully farm and then commercialize Atlantic salmon back in the seventies, so we have 50 years of experience in this field.”

After oil and gas, the seafood industry is the second-largest contributor to Norway’s economy.

As well as salmon harvesting, cod farming has been gaining momentum in the country.

During a visit to a cod farm owned by Ode, founder and CEO Ola Kvalheim told reporters about the challenges and opportunities faced by the aquaculture industry.

“As the world needs more healthy and sustainable protein, farming cod is an excellent opportunity to solve both the need for more protein and the need for more sustainable food production,” he said.

“I grew up in a small rural community along the Norwegian coastline, with a long heritage of exporting cod. Before the tremendous success of the salmon, cod was the most important seafood option from Norway. Now we are finally able to successfully farm the iconic Atlantic cod.”

Kvalheim’s farm is located close to Alesund, where the sea conditions are ideal for nurturing the fish.

“These conditions and the cold and nutritious waters are perfect for Atlantic cod,” he said.

“We produce the cod here in a natural habitat with the right temperature and in the right environment. We are focusing on zero emissions using solar panels that produce green energy for use on our farms.

“Boats and equipment run on that green energy, making it eco-friendly production. We are currently producing about 20 million meals of cod per year, next year we will be at 70 million meals,” he said.

Kvalheim said his company’s long-term plan was to become a leading seafood company.

“Initially we had a clear focus on building our organization, our value chain, establishing best in class operations and positioning our product in the market. Based on very strong operations and biology coupled with solid demand for our products, we are now scaling significantly up.”


MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation
Updated 22 July 2024
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MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

The MENA Information Security Conference, one of the oldest and most trusted events among chief information security officers and cybersecurity professionals in the region, will once again bring together top industry leaders and decision-makers, for its 12th edition, to discuss the latest cybersecurity challenges and share ground-breaking solutions.

With the theme, “Hyper-resilient Cyber: Navigating the Evolving Threat Landscape of the Interconnected World of IT, OT, IoT, IIoT, and Hybrid Cloud,” MENA ISC 2024 will address the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape and its implications for the Kingdom’s thriving businesses and critical infrastructure. The event will be held in Riyadh from Sept. 10-11.

The unemployment rate for Saudis dropped to 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2023, nearing the objective of 7 percent as set for Vision 2030. The nation is set to grow by 4.4 percent in 2024, fueled by substantial investments in non-oil sectors and the ambitious Vision 2030 initiative aimed at economic diversification. As Saudi Arabia’s economy continues to flourish, this economic upturn is further supported by robust consumer spending, stabilized oil prices, easing inflation and a highly digitalized public and private sector.

As a digitally advanced nation, the Kingdom’s residents have technology integrated into everyday life, from government services on platforms like Absher to various mobile applications for healthcare, finance, insurance and other services. Saudi Arabia is recognized globally for its digital advancements, ranking third in the World Bank’s GovTech Maturity Index for digital government transformation and first in the Arab world for digital competitiveness. This widespread digital integration necessitates the need for a resilient cybersecurity infrastructure to ensure the secure functioning of digital services.

The rapid expansion is also driven by the implementation of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, and hybrid cloud, in both public and private sectors. Reflecting this trend, the cybersecurity market in Saudi Arabia is witnessing unprecedented growth, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.78 percent and a market size of SR21 billion ($5.6 billion) at the end of 2023.

The Kingdom’s rapid digital transformation and economic diversification under Vision 2030, increase the vulnerability of its digital infrastructure, making it a prime target, with the average cost of a cyberattack in Saudi Arabia being significantly higher than the global average, highlighting the critical need for cybersecurity measures such as the government’s significant investments in developing cyber-secure infrastructure and the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Authority.

Four new special economic zones in Saudi Arabia were also launched at the end of 2023, including the Cloud SEZ, which aims to attract leading global cloud computing companies to start their commercial operations with the capability to build and operate data centers throughout the Kingdom. This was followed by major global companies like Oracle announcing a SR6 billion investment toward developing local cloud computing centers, AWS announcing a SR20 billion investment toward building data centers and a significant cloud presence, and Google launching a new cloud region in Dammam, which is estimated to add SR409 billion to the country’s GDP between 2024 and 2030.

To achieve hyper-resilience against cyberthreats, strong collaboration between government entities, private enterprises and international partners is essential. 

This approach leverages the strengths and resources of all stakeholders to create a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for the nation. MENA ISC 2024 aims to play a pivotal role in this collaborative effort by gathering thought leaders, visionaries, market innovators and experts, who will together pave the way for a digitally secure Kingdom.


London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market
Updated 22 July 2024
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London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

Jersey Finance, an international financial center, partnered with the Saudi British Joint Business Council to host a roundtable in London titled “Setting up in Saudi — Practical Insights for Financial Service Firms.”

The event at 33 St. James’s Square, brought together experts from Saudi Arabia, including government representatives, to discuss the practical requirements and support available for finance firms looking to establish operations in the Kingdom.

The roundtable was led by Faizal Bhana, Jersey Finance’s director — Middle East, Africa and India. “These events are crucial in providing financial services firms with the knowledge and connections they need to successfully navigate the process of setting up in the dynamic Saudi market,” said Bhana.

He added: “Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation presents significant opportunities, and we are committed to helping firms leverage Jersey’s expertise to establish a presence in the Kingdom.”

The event featured speakers from the Saudi Embassy in London and the Ministry of Investment, as well as leading law firms and advisory firms. Abdullah Masood, commercial attaché at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, highlighted the embassy’s support for establishing financial services in the Kingdom. 

Richard Jacobs, managing partner, also provided insights into the Saudi financial sector development plans and regulatory environment.

Chris Innes-Hopkins, SBJBC UK executive director, said: “The roundtable aimed to foster discussion and debate, equipping attendees with valuable, on-the-ground insights into setting up a financial services firm in Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “We are pleased to partner with Jersey Finance to facilitate this knowledge-sharing and connect financial firms with the resources they need to succeed in the Saudi market.”

Jersey has been a leading international finance center for more than 60 years, offering a forward-thinking and ESG-driven approach across banking, corporate services, fintech, funds, investment management, private wealth, and specialist areas like Islamic finance and philanthropy. Financial firms in Jersey provide services to clients around the world, and more than 30 Jersey-based financial firms also operate in the Gulf region and four have recently set up in the Kingdom.


Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership
Updated 22 July 2024
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Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

The Esports World Cup Foundation has announced Mastercard as an official partner of this year’s Esports World Cup, the world’s largest gaming festival taking place this summer in Riyadh. Through curating an exciting, one-of-a-kind gaming journey, Mastercard is helping create an accessible and enjoyable experience for all EWC attendees.

The EWC provides an ideal opportunity to showcase Saudi Arabia’s rapidly growing esports industry, highlighting the nation’s progress in developing its digital economy and infrastructure.

Mastercard’s sponsorship will enable enhanced experiences for attendees, including seamless digital payments, and the chance to win valuable prizes by competing in a broad selection of rousing challenges. Meanwhile, a dedicated Mastercard booth, located in the Esports Arena, is hosting on-ground activations and meet-and-greets with Saudi esports stars and gaming personalities.

In addition to holding weekly tournaments that put gamers’ skills to the test, Mastercard will also reward game lovers for their passion and enthusiasm for esports with an array of prizes. The technology company will also challenge visitors to demonstrate their teamwork abilities by taking on a novel, exciting game called “Gen Blend,” with the aim being to play and win together.

“Mastercard’s sponsorship is a significant milestone for EWC, supporting our goals and harmonizing with Saudi Vision 2030’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and digital innovation,” said Mohammed Al-Nimer, sales director, EWCF. “We look forward to welcoming a diverse audience of gamers, tech aficionados, and industry professionals to EWC, casting a bright spotlight on the Kingdom’s digital prowess and cultural vibrancy.”

“At Mastercard, we are committed to connecting people to their passions,” said Maria Medvedeva, country manager, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Mastercard. 

“With Saudi Arabia being home to some of the most skilled and dedicated gamers in the world, we are proud to contribute to the development of the Kingdom’s gaming industry in line with Vision 2030 and in tandem with EWCF. We look forward to further strengthening our long-standing partnership with EWCF to fuel the robust gaming ecosystem in the Kingdom. We look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to EWC.”

The EWC, which began on July 3, has transformed Riyadh into the epicenter of esports fandom and gaming culture. Located in Boulevard City, fans can watch their favorite athletes and clubs compete across 22 game championships for a share of more than $60 million in life-changing prize money — the largest prize pool in esports history. Across eight weeks, the tournament will also feature festival activities that include numerous gaming activities, community tournaments, pop culture celebrations, international experiences, and more.


Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure
Updated 22 July 2024
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Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

The Governing Body of the iMasons Climate Accord, a program of Infrastructure Masons, is calling on all suppliers serving data centers to support greater transparency in Scope 3 emissions as part of broader efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

Consisting of AWS, Digital Realty, Google, Meta, Microsoft and Schneider Electric, the Governing Body released an open letter that explains the importance of widespread adoption of Environmental Product Declarations, which are standardized, third-party-verified documents reporting the embodied emissions of a product. EPDs outline the greenhouse gas emissions of a product through its entire lifecycle, from the raw materials in the product (e.g., how they are extracted, transported, and processed), to manufacturing, transportation, product use, and product end-of-life (e.g., landfill, recycling, repurposing, etc.).

While EPDs are common in some business sectors, there is not widespread adoption of EPDs in the data center industry. The open letter demonstrates a significant push forward from the world’s largest hyperscalers and digital infrastructure companies to drive meaningful change across the industry, working in partnership with their trusted suppliers.

It is essential to continue to ensure the digital infrastructure industry decarbonizes as it grows. The signatories of the iMasons Governing Body’s open letter all have net-zero carbon emissions commitments in place to address their responsibility in mitigating data center carbon emissions (with deadlines ranging from 2025 to 2040, which is at least 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement), and this letter marks another milestone toward decarbonizing of operations.

Hyperscalers have implemented strategies to reduce and/or mitigate Scope 1 and 2 emissions. As they seek to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the coming years, solving the next piece of the sustainability puzzle lies in reducing Scope 3 emissions, which can represent anywhere from 38-69 percent of data centers’ total carbon footprint. Scope 3 emissions are not produced by the company itself; rather, they include the indirect emissions throughout the value chain.

Access to the critical information in EPDs empowers data center owners, operators, and end-users to effectively calculate their environmental impact and choose products (servers, cooling systems, uninterruptible power supplies and services based on lower Scope 3 emissions, best aligning with sustainability targets.

“EPDs are crucial in transforming the future of digital infrastructure to be more resilient and climate positive. The adoption of EPDs within the global supply chain fosters both sustainable and accountable outcomes. As standardized and verified data provides a layer of transparency, this initiative supports a collective approach to reducing our carbon emissions and environmental footprints,” said Miranda Gardiner, executive director of the iMasons Climate Accord, a coalition of 250+ members that represents an $8 trillion combined market cap.

“At AWS, we are committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions across our operations by 2040 by investing in carbon-free energy, scaling solutions, and collaborating with partners to broaden our impact,” said Eric Wilcox, vice president of data center engineering at AWS. “We support the iMasons call for suppliers to adopt the use of Environmental Product Declarations. Doing so will provide greater transparency in Scope 3 emissions embodied in equipment and help accelerate the overall industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.”

“As a leading data center company, we recognize the need to address Scope 3 emissions associated with the construction of new data centers,” said Lex Coors, chief data center technology and engineering officer for digital realty and Infrastructure Masons Governing Body member. “By advocating for the adoption of EPDs, we’re not just committing to transparency; we are taking a decisive step toward empowering the entire industry to make informed, responsible choices that align with our collective sustainability ambitions. This initiative is crucial as we strive to meet the growing demands of our digital world in a sustainable manner.”

“In line with our commitment to open standards and our company-wide goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all our operations and value chain, we support industry-wide adoption of Environmental Product Declarations as a crucial lever in low-carbon procurement of digital infrastructure,” said Joe Kava, vice president, global data centers, Google. “As a member of the Governing Board of iMasons Climate Accord, Google is excited to help accelerate solutions that drive progress toward a more sustainable, transparent data center industry.”

“Reducing our emissions is Meta’s top priority to reach net-zero emissions across our value chain in 2030. We join our peers in calling for greater transparency in the data center supply chain to better understand the embodied carbon of the infrastructure that underpins our operations. These declarations will play an important role in accelerating decarbonization efforts for the data centers of tomorrow,” said Rachel Peterson, VP, infrastructure data centers at Meta.

“Microsoft has committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030 and removing all greenhouse gas emissions produced since our founding by 2050. By joining our peers in promoting sustainability and using digital innovation to drive progress, Microsoft is helping to create a more sustainable future for all,” said Shirin O’Connor, CVP, datacenter engineering, procurement and construction, Microsoft.

“To enable the digital infrastructure industry to align with net-zero emission goals, carbon emissions must be a fundamental consideration in procurement decisions,” said iMasons Governing Body Member Anna Timme, who is also the head of sustainability for secure power and data centers at Schneider Electric. “Promoting industry-wide adoption of EPDs is a critical step in enabling carbon-informed decision making. Schneider Electric has been dedicated to publishing EPDs since 2008, and we are excited about the significant impact that industry adoption will have as we collectively progress toward net-zero.”

The open letter is the second issued by the ICA calling for action from suppliers to accelerate decarbonization efforts. In April 2023, the Governing Body of the ICA called on data center industry suppliers to use lower-carbon concrete in data center infrastructure.


Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project
Updated 21 July 2024
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Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel, part of Emirates Steel Arkan Group, one of the largest publicly traded steel and building materials manufacturers in the region, is partnering with Eversendai, a global powerhouse in steel construction, solidifying their collaboration for the prestigious NEOM Trojena Ski Village project in the heart of NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious giga-project.

The strategic partnership marks a significant milestone in the steel industry, highlighting the two companies’ joint commitment to delivering excellence in sustainable innovation across the wider GCC region. Emirates Steel will supply premium steel beams renowned for their sustainability, regionally record-setting low carbon emissions, and exceptional durability for the construction of the NEOM Trojena Ski Village.

The partnership agreement was formalized during an official ceremony, signifying the commencement of a robust alliance aimed at setting new benchmarks in construction excellence. The collaboration will not only enhance Emirates Steel’s position within the wider GCC market, but also highlights its pivotal role in shaping iconic projects in the region.

Saeed Alghafri, CEO of Emirates Steel, said: “We are delighted to partner with Eversendai on this significant project which promises to be a staple of NEOM in Saudi Arabia. Emirates Steel is committed to supplying benchmark sustainable steel solutions that meet the stringent demands of innovative construction projects. This collaboration exemplifies our dedication to driving sustainable growth across the GCC and delivering value to our partners and stakeholders.”

Narishnath Nathan, deputy group managing director of Eversendai, said: “Eversendai is proud to collaborate with Emirates Steel on the NEOM Trojena Ski Village, a landmark project that will showcase our collective capabilities in delivering world-class steel construction solutions. This partnership highlights our commitment to pushing the boundaries of engineering and construction.”

The NEOM Trojena Ski Village is poised to become a premier global destination, offering unparalleled recreational experiences in the region. Emirates Steel’s advanced steel beams will play a crucial role in the structural integrity and sustainability of the resort, ensuring it meets global standards for quality and safety.