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NPC And KAUST Explore Collaboration On Research Projects

Crustaceans Post-harvest Education & academia +2 more

SAUDI ARABIA - Senior faculty members from King Abudullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) recently visited the National Prawn Companys extensive aquaculture operations in Al Lith to explore opportunities for collaboration on a variety of mutually beneficial research projects.

The delegation met with Eng. Ahmad R. Al Balla, managing director of NPC, and other members of NPC’s senior management, who provided an extensive briefing and tour of the operations.

Dr Abdullah L. Almojel, VP for University Relations for KAUST, who led the delegation, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate: “I think all the faculty members on the visit were impressed by scientific and engineering rigour that NPC applies to its operations”.

NPC operates one of the world’s largest integrated prawn farming operations in the world, has started a fish farming operation with Greater Amberjack and is also developing what will become one of the world’s largest sea cucumber aquaculture operation. In addition to aquaculture, NPC has significant projects in chitin production and phytoplankton (algae) development in its Marine Agriculture arm.

NPC engineered the development of its farms from the very beginning taking into account required water flows and minimising energy usage. In addition, its breeding programme is one of the most advanced in the world as the company constantly strives to improve its broodstock. The scientific approach NPC took from its inception in 1982 has resulted in a fully sustainable operation and allowed it to have the R&D expertise to develop new areas of business such as its marine agriculture project.

“We can see opportunities to collaborate across a range of fields from genome research, water management, marine biology and biotechnology. Any projects we develop together will provide value to our departments, our students and the Kingdom as a whole”, Dr Almojel continued.

The KAUST delegation included members of the following faculties: Chemical and Life Sciences and Engineering; Red Sea Science & Engineering; Computational Biosciences; Water Desalination and Reuse Centre; and, Acting Provost, Dr Brian Moran.

Eng. Al Balla said: “I look forward to establishing a strong relationship with KAUST. The development of marine sciences can, I believe, provide a strong platform for the development of aquaculture and associated industries in the Kingdom, which could help diversify the economy over the coming years”.

“NPC, as a leading global aquaculture company, is committed to helping develop the industry in Saudi Arabia. We are open to working with all academic institutions that wish to collaborate”, he continued, “We have a strong working relationship with KAAU’s marine sciences faculty and we would welcome a similar relationship with KAUST”.

NPC and KAUST hope to formalise a working relationship in the coming few months.