Spanish meat industry chiefs host Saudi trade mission

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The five-day media/trade mission consisted of multiple visits to fattening farms, feed mills, slaughterhouses, and meat markets in and around the Spanish capital of Madrid. Photo Courtesy of Gema Moguer
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A non-profit organization officially recognized by the Spanish Government, PROVACUNO represents 85% of the Spanish beef industry. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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PROVACUNO have over 110,000 farms, with an annual meat production exceeding 650,000 metric tons. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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PROVACUNO’s cattle and variety of cuts are all dependent on the variety of breeds, and age of slaughter, to which they are categorized threefold: Heifer Calves, Yearlings, and Adult Bovine. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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PROVACUNO's annual industry exports amount to 175,000 metric tons annually. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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The animal feed that PROVACUNO incorporates is strictly grain-fed and based mainly on a high-grade nutritional value cereal and oil-seed. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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the Saudi delegation were provided with tours of fattening farms and feed mills in the Spanish cities of Lleida and Huesca. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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With the goal of enhancing their beef industry’s image through sustainable and environmentally-friendly production processes, PROVACUNO maintains a firm compliance with the European Production Model. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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The feed mill of AGROPIENSO folows a strict traceability system based on the specific characteristics of each animal that enables an uninterrupted transfer of data from the farm to the point of sale. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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PROVACUNO maintains a firm compliance with the European Production Model. The grains are technologically controlled through a daily traceability system of which measurements are taken to ensure the nutrients are always consistently balanced and free from infection. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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The Saudi delegation visited the meat factories of ALMAMEAT. With two main headquarters, they encompass the whole value chain: livestock production, slaughterhouse, cutting plant, and marketing. (Photo Courtesy of Saleh Al-Qabbas)
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A visit to Mercamadrid’s meat market gave the Saudi delegation a glimpse into the final commercialized phase of beef production – buying, selling, and trade. (Photo Courtesy of Gema Moguer)
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Mercamadrid is the largest perishable foods market in Europe with a total area of over 220 hectares. An estimated 20,000 food merchants from over 50 countries visit daily buying and selling produce to be shipped across five continents. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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Meat imports from the Saudi market are currently dominated by four countries, that in total, amount to 90% of total beef imports: Brazil (39%), India (26%), Australia (14%), and Pakistan (9%). (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
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PROVACUNO have embarked on a three-year promotional tour showcasing their high-quality, environmentally friendly, and wide-ranging beef products in countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. (Photo Courtesy of Gema Moguer)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Spanish meat industry chiefs host Saudi trade mission

  • With the Kingdom being one of the highest meat-consuming nations in the world, Provacuno sees it as a key target market.

A top-level business delegation from Saudi Arabia took part in a five-day trade mission to Spain focusing on the meat industry. 
The trip, hosted by the Spanish meat production sector’s Interprofessional Organization of Beef Cattle (Provacuno), followed a reciprocal visit to the Kingdom last year.
Representatives of the Saudi media and meat trade toured farms, feed mills, slaughterhouses, and meat markets in and around the Spanish capital Madrid, to see the latest high-quality, environmentally-friendly beef production methods. 
A non-profit organization officially recognized by the Spanish government, Provacuno represents 85 percent of the Spanish beef industry. Established in 1997, it is comprised of national associations working to protect the interests of companies involved in Spain’s meat production, industrial, and commercial sectors.
Saudi Arabia only reopened its market to Spanish beef three years ago after stopping imports in 2001 as a result of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) outbreak.
With the Kingdom being one of the highest meat-consuming nations in the world, Provacuno sees it as a key target market. In 2017 Spanish beef exports to Saudi Arabia were valued at €680,000 ($768,000). In the same year, the Kingdom produced 60,000 tons of meat while consuming over 220,000 tons. Brazil, India, Australia and Pakistan currently dominate the beef imports market to Saudi.
However, Provacuno hopes to step up its trade links with the Kingdom and has embarked on a three-year promotional tour showcasing Spain’s beef industry in not only Saudi Arabia, but other countries including the UAE, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. 
During a presentation to the Saudi delegation at Provacuno’s headquarters in Madrid, its market research and training manager, Alvaro Espejo León, explained to Arab News the organization’s market strategy for the Kingdom.
“While Brazil and India control most of the Saudi beef market, we do not share the same market strategy as them,” León said. “They are focused on a different target market. They don’t represent our segment or our target client. Our strategy is not aimed towards restaurants, but rather five-star hotels and supermarkets like Danube and Manuel.”
Provacuno representatives visited the Kingdom in November last year as part of their promotional campaign “What a Wonderful European Beef,” which concluded at Jeddah’s Foodex. 
On the return leg to Spain, the Saudi trade delegates spent their first day touring fattening farms and feed mills in the cities of Lleida and Huesca. Provacuno’s cuts of meat are categorized based on breed of cattle and age of slaughter. 
At the Agropienso feed manufacturing plant in Huesca, the Saudi party was shown how cattle are fed grain with a high-grade nutritional value cereal and oil-seed.
With the goal of enhancing the Spanish beef industry’s image through sustainable and environmentally-friendly production processes, Provacuno maintains a firm compliance with strict European production requirements on food safety standards. Tough rules surrounding animal welfare, hygiene control, and environmental protection also cater for international markets like Saudi Arabia by offering meat that is 100 percent halal certified. 
The Spanish hosts also introduced their Saudi guests to the Almameat group, which encompasses livestock production, slaughterhouses, and cutting plants all operating with the latest technology. Almameat has over 500 cattle breeders, and a weekly meat production capacity estimated at more than 1,000 tons. Its modern cooling facilities can hold up to 2,500 cow and sheep carcasses daily.  
A visit to the giant Mercamadrid meat market gave the Saudi delegation a glimpse into the final commercialized phase of beef production – buying, selling, and trade.
Mercamadrid is the largest perishable foods market in Europe with a total area of more than 220 hectares. It houses over 900 independent firms and provides food for 12 million consumers living within a 500 km radius. 
With the risk of BSE now officially considered negligible in Spain, Provacuno has been experiencing an upward trend in exports of meat products in recent years.  Provacuno’s annual meat production exceeds 650,000 metric tons. It has more than 110,000 farms, with industry exports amounting to 175,000 metric tons annually. For the past 20 years, the organization has been officially recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as an agro-food interprofessional body.
According to UN trade figures, beef consumption in Saudi Arabia has increased steadily in recent years after a consecutive decreasing trend between 2012 and 2016. Currently, the EU is the second-largest annual producer of beef in the world at more than 8 million metric tons. Spain’s main beef exports are to Turkey, Hong Kong, Israel, Lebanon, and Ghana.
 


Motherly advice from Dr. Thoraya Obaid

Updated 21 March 2019
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Motherly advice from Dr. Thoraya Obaid

  • n an exclusive interview for Mother’s Day in the Arab world, the woman who paved the way for a new generation of Saudi women shares her life lessons
  • ‘Have faith in Allah, and believe in yourself and that you were created to bring good to the world,’ she advises

RIYADH: The first Saudi to head a UN agency, the first Saudi female to graduate from a US university on a government scholarship, one of 30 women to be appointed to the Shoura Council for the first time, one of 100 notable “Muslim Builders of World Civilization and Culture,” and editor of “The Oxford Dictionary of Islam.” These are just a few achievements on the remarkable CV of Dr. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. 

For years she politely declined media requests for interviews, saying it was time for the next generation to take the spotlight. But after a year of attempts by Arab News, she finally granted the newspaper an interview. 


 

As the Arab world marks Mother’s Day on March 21, Arab News decided it was a good occasion to sit down with Obaid, a mother of two girls, because she has been a role model to so many young Saudi women.

 

She has been an advocate for women’s rights worldwide, most notably as under-secretary-general and executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) from 2001 to 2010. 

But what most people do not know is how humble she is. “Please don’t call me Dr. Thoraya, call me auntie,” she said in a soft voice.

Early beginnings 

“I was 7 when I left for Cairo (to study at a boarding school). There were no girls’ schools in Saudi Arabia at the time, in September 1951, and my father had the same principles for his sons and daughter. He followed our Islamic teaching that advocated education for all,” she said.

“I started crying when he took me to the school in Cairo and told the teacher to take me away.”

Years later, she asked her father how he felt at that time. He told her: “I felt that if I let my fatherly emotions take over, I’d have bundled you up and taken you away.” 

But he decided against it, realizing that this moment would make or break her future, and he wanted to empower her through education.  

That moment, Obaid said, helped her cope anywhere in the world. 

She learned to make a new family through bonds with other students and teachers at the boarding school. 

She went on to get a PhD in English literature, with a minor in cultural anthropology, from Wayne State University in Detroit.

“My generation was focused on education,” she said. “You learn that education isn’t only for you, but also for you to serve others.” 

Working life

Obaid has lived and worked most of her life outside her country, in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the US. 

During her time with the UN, she travelled the world. After her meetings in various countries, she would insist on going to villages and poor urban areas where the UNFPA supported government projects, so she could meet the people there. 

“These are the real people that must be empowered to change their own lives, not the ones we meet in the ministries,” she said. “Unless you go and see the poor, the sick and the very basic human rights violations, you won’t know what the country is about, especially if you’re stuck in nice hotels.” 

Even though she sought to visit these impoverished areas, heart-wrenching scenes would always get to her. At the UN they called her the “crying executive director,” but she was not ashamed of her tears. 

In one African country, while checking maternal programs in the village, she encountered a sickly woman who was thrown out of her home by her husband. She told her story to Obaid, both of them with tears streaming down their cheeks. 

In South Africa, she visited the cell in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 17 years. The guides were all former political prisoners, who said they kept the prison open in order to demonstrate that apartheid should not exist anymore. As she cried silently, she told them: “You know, there’s another apartheid happening again, in Palestine.” 

Life lessons

Obaid’s experiences taught her much about life. When it comes to family, she had this advice: “For young girls in families, don’t ask for everything and at the same time. Be selective, and have a strategic goal that you want to achieve in your life; focus on that.”

She said: “My most important request was going to university, a goal that’s now taken for granted by the young generation. So I tell girls to have a strategic objective in life. If you work toward it and achieve it, it will change your life.”

She advises daughters not to be inflexible with parents regarding their demands. “When you grow up, you’ll realize the issues weren’t worth it,” she said. “It’s even more obvious when you become a parent yourself.” 

Obaid, who worked hard to realize her dreams, added: “We, as human beings, don’t have unlimited energy, so direct your energy to what will make a difference in your life.” 

As for being Saudi, she said there is no place like home, adding: “I’ve lived 58 years out of my country and returned voluntarily. I’ve never really felt home except in my home, Saudi Arabia, with all its frustrations and complications.” 

It never crossed her mind to get another passport or residency permit, she said. “I learned that one’s dignity lies in their homeland. Wherever you go and however long you stay, you’ll always feel like an outsider. Even if you integrate in the community, you’re still an outsider,” she added. 

When asked what advice she would give youths, she said: “Have faith in Allah, and believe in yourself and that you were created to bring good to the world.”