Arabian Shrimp Company is building and operating one of the largest sustainable shrimp farming projects in the world, with 5000 hectares of ponds under production in the final stages of the seven-year project.
An extensive model of the project, showing the high-health broodstock center, hatchery, grow-out ponds, quality control laboratory, processing plant, and pump stations and canals linking the ponds as well as camp infrastructure for employees and managers, introduced the government visitors to the concept and value of the project. Attending the exhibit to explain the project were Mr. Ibrahim Al-Mishari, Chairman of Arabian Shrimp and Aquad Companies, and Mr. Michael Stirnberg, General Manager of Arabian Shrimp. Also attending the celebrations will be Mr. James Greenberg, Chairman of the two foreign partners, AquaFarms and the Saudi Offset Limited Partnership (SOLP); Mr. Mohammed Ateia of Arabian Authority for Agriculture Investment and Development, the financial partner to the project; and Mr. Otis Hopkins as a representative of Raytheon Company, the primary investor in the SOLP.
The Arabian Shrimp Company is the first step in an extensive initiative of the SOLP and General Partner DevCorp International to develop and expand aquaculture as a lynchpin of Saudi Arabia's programs for economic diversity, national employment, and import substitution. Anticipated future projects, in cooperation with global and national partner companies, will cultivate finfish in ponds and cages; support a regional hatchery for fish and shrimp larva; establish a regional center for training and qualifying Saudi men and women as aquaculture technicians, specialists, and managers; build and operate a feed mill; and build and operate a regional processing plant for preparing fresh, frozen, and value-added fish and shrimp products. Additional possibilities for sustainably exploiting the resources of the Red Sea and the southern Saudi Arabia region will be pursued.
Arabian Shrimp Company in its first year of construction has already employed more than 30 Saudis in management, labor, and skilled labor jobs. It has instituted a training program for Saudis to work as high-tech laser-guided equipment operators and initiated an open English language training program in the local village to prepare potential candidates for employment. Future training will target both men in the farming portion of the project and women in the processing portion. In addition to the direct employment of Saudis by Arabian Shrimp Company, the project will create 5000 additional jobs in associated industries such as building, ice making, transport, and maintenance.
Arabian Shrimp Company has been proactive in two important developmental fields -- environmental sustainability and socioeconomic change -- in Saudi Arabia. It has conducted a baseline study to identify the environmental conditions in the present site and to plan future monitoring for sustainable development and begun a mangrove conservation and enhancement program along the coastal perimeter of the project. This summer the company employed a Saudi master's student to examine the socioeconomic status of women in the local villages surrounding the shrimp site to determine their interest in commercial employment and to assist in defining the best employment program in the processing plant, now under construction.
Initiatives such as these are valuable in supporting HRH King Abdullah's plans for economic development in the Jazan region. Arabian Shrimp Company also been recognized by the award of 'Investor of the Year 2005' by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in the Middle East, after the company was nominated by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.