Blue economy: A promising future and a sector that supports the national economy and attracts domestic and international investments

Keynote speaker: Faiza Al-Ajrush

Speaker 1: Ali Al-Tukhais

Speaker 2: Khaled Al-Fuhaid

Moderator: Nasser Al-Qaoud

Summary

The blue economy is based on activities in maritime water including oceans, seas, bays, and lakes. Such activities include fishing, maritime transport, logistical services, utilization of fish and marine resources, and mining, to achieve the best possible returns from these economic activities. This economy aims at achieving three goals: Maintaining safer maritime zones, reaching smart and resilient blue economy, and sustainable development related to maritime resources.

The concept of the blue economy revolves around the idea of merging maritime activities in a circular economy through the principle of natural regeneration. This concept is intended to be a vital simulation of nature in terms of being inspired by natural renewable forces. The Belgian economist Gunter Pauli was one of the first to draw attention to the importance of the blue economy, through his book published in 2010 titled: Blue Economy-10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs. The Kingdom’s prospects for success in the blue economy are almost certain; because the Kingdom enjoys a geostrategic location and possesses an important human balance in coastal areas, and it has a knowledge base on seas and oceans. The one who looks carefully at the coasts of the Kingdom on the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and the scattered Islands, whether inhabited such as Farasan and Qimaah or uninhabited and the coastlines exceeding 3000 km – find a tremendous economic wealth and a treasure of fish. Unfortunately, they are optimally idle or not utilized, with the potential to advance new sectors with high growth potential (such as aquaculture, ecotourism, marine biotechnology, shipbuilding, etc.), along with a group of other factors that increase the chances of success.

The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture has taken care of a large part of the blue economy, especially in relation to fishing, fish farming, and shrimp projects. The blue economy includes multiple activities including the old career of diving to collect pearls from shells. This was the profession of our ancestors who used to dwell on coastal areas. The profession developed and culminated in the production of artificial pearls, fishing in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, aquaculture of inland farms on groundwater, desalination of seawater, the distillation of groundwater to obtain clean drinking water, and marine transportation among ports. The Ministry has had good efforts in the field of fish, as there was a special agency for fish in the organizational structure of the Ministry before expanding the scope of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water. Then, the agency turned into a public administration as part of developing the structure of the Ministry after the inclusion of the environment and water to the Ministry of Agriculture.

It is important to maximize utilization of the Saudi islands on coastal areas, by choosing the most appropriate ones to create sustainable development for coastal area dwellers, and preparing them as investment opportunities for the private sector to establish some industries and logistics services, such as: establishing an integrated cattle area that includes veterinary quarantines for imported livestock and slaughterhouses. Meat is expected to be exported from such areas to the regions of the Kingdom daily to overcome the problem of epidemics that accompany their import, and to contribute to organizing the red meat market. The slaughterhouse outputs are utilized by setting up factories for leather industries and others. This contributes to job creation as well as ensuring food safety.

Contributions made on the issue included the following two themes:

  • The reality of the blue economy and its role in the Kingdom’s economy.
  • Means to promote the blue economy and increase its development.

For more information on the issue, please refer to the link:  https://bit.ly/2RAsSAq

Recommendations:

  1. Developing a national strategy for the blue economy sectors and making use of the various resources on a sustainable basis. The strategy shall be based on Vision 2030, drawing on the academic expertise and research centers. Moreover, the relevant international standards need to be applied to the best lucrative investment of these resources. The strategy shall have to consider developing the economy of coastal communities, their infrastructure, creating job opportunities, encouraging tourism through entertainment activities, water sports, and restructuring the present sectors to keep up with the strategy.
  2. Due to the many economic activities related to the blue economy, and the many agencies in charge, water needs to be separated from agriculture and given to the Ministry of Water, for instance. This will give more space for each agency to focus on conducting feasibility studies, stimulating investments, launching initiatives with the private sector, and developing innovations and training.
  3. Focusing more on training on fishing, pearl and coral industries, stimulating and encouraging the Saudi fishermen, and supporting fishermen societies.
  4. Developing measures to facilitate access by investors, fishermen, and individuals to the coasts, which will achieve public interest with its various dimensions; social, economic, and security.
  5. Attracting strategic investments in the ports sector. This will develop the sector, improve the import and export tracks. This goes in line with making tax waivers and providing government subsidies.

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