DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s NEOM has revealed ambitions to set up an innovation center for regional aquaculture genomic research and development, according to a senior official.

“To accelerate the adaptation of native species to the conditions of its sea cages, NEOM will lead a Red Sea marine species biotech development program that will also support other aquaculture production needs,” Juan Carlos Motamayor, executive director of NEOM’s food sector, told Arab News. 

The statements come as discussions around aquaculture become prominent across the region, led by the Kingdom’s hosting of the Saudi International Marine Exhibition and Conference last month. 

Motamayor highlighted NEOM’s commitment to sustainable aquaculture, which is in line with its overarching goal of “regenerative tourism,” where preserving natural life is important. 

Speaking specifically about the futuristic Saudi city’s sea farming strategy, the NEOM official said their program is focused on cultivating Red Sea native species, and exploring ways to produce on a large scale. 

“Our aquaculture and marine species development programs showcase NEOM’s commitment to enriching marine life in the area and accelerating the growth of multiple native fish species through effective technological science-based solutions that are instrumental to conserving the natural environment,” Motamayor explained.

The projects also aim to contribute to the Kingdom’s self-sufficiency targets, and to support the growth of the seafood export sector, Motamayor added. 

These efforts will also contribute to NEOM’s goal to create job opportunities for locals. 

“NEOM’s seafood production projects and land-based aquaculture operations will be some of the largest in the Kingdom, unlocking unique work opportunities for local talent and further contributing to achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” he said. 

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