Arab states work with the world but not with each other, Davos hears

Alain Bejjani said, ‘This region (MENAP) doesn’t work together. It works with the world but not with each other.’ (Courtesy WEF)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Arab states work with the world but not with each other, Davos hears

  • Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani: I think you’ll be surprised when I tell you that only 16 percent of the trade in the MENAP region is within the region
  • Alain Bejjani: We forget sometimes employment is a result of economic growth — you can’t create jobs without economic growth

LONDON: Arab economies need to break down barriers and start to work together if they are to stand any chance of creating the millions of jobs they need to grow, the World Economic Forum in Davos heard.
Regional economies are estimated to have grown by just 1 percent for 2019 as a weaker oil price, geopolitical threats and the impact of global trade wars have hurt output.
But a panel of Middle East business leaders and ministers called for more efforts to break down barriers and slash red tape in order to create the sort of economic growth needed for meaningful job creation.
“We forget sometimes employment is a result of economic growth — you can’t create jobs without economic growth,” said Alain Bejjani, the CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, the Dubai-based retail conglomerate that operates malls across the Middle East.
He said that most global growth was creates through regional trading blocs but that this model had not yet worked successfully in the Middle East.
“If you look at the ASEAN region as an example — it has 56 percent of its trade happening within the region. I think you’ll be surprised when I tell you that only 16 percent of the trade in the MENAP region is within the region. If you take oil out it is less than 5 percent. So in reality this region doesn’t work together. It works with the world but not with each other.”
Bureaucratic processes have also stymied growth according to Majid Jafar, the CEO of UAE-based Crescent Petroleum.
“Registering a company can take more than a year in some countries,” he said. “So how can we make that quicker? Look at what is standing in the way and how can we improve it.”
The Middle East and Central Asia is expected to record 2.8 percent growth in 2020, the IMF said on Monday. That was slightly lower than its October outlook and reflecting the latest move by the OPEC+ group of oil producers to extend supply cuts. It expects the region to pick up speed in 2021 with growth of 3.2 percent.


Saudi fund shells out to help US cellular seafood pioneer

Updated 27 February 2020

Saudi fund shells out to help US cellular seafood pioneer

  • KBW Ventures joins ‘visionary’ $20m backing for San Diego food innovator

JEDDAH: A California innovative food company that produces seafood directly from fish cells is stepping up expansion plans with backing from “visionary investors” including KBW Ventures, the Saudi investment fund founded by Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal.

BlueNalu, based in San Diego, on Wednesday announced the completion of its $20 million Series A round of funding.

The financing will allow the company to develop a pilot production facility in San Diego, expand its worldwide staff, implement strategic alliances for global operations and prepare for its market launch.

The Series A round is co-led by Stray Dog Capital, CPT Capital, New Crop Capital and Clear Current Capital, each of which took part in BlueNalu’s seed round. The company secured $4.5 million in 2018 and has attracted investors from 11 nations so far, demonstrating global interest in the firm’s potential.

New investors include KBW Ventures, which supports innovative companies, such as BlueNalu, that have potential for growth and can sustainably feed the world.

BlueNalu’s A round attracted a significant number of strategic investors offering expertise and infrastructure in supply chain, operations, sales, marketing and distribution.

Strategic investors include global supply chain leaders that will provide guidance and raw material expertise to BlueNalu. These include Nutreco, a global leader in animal nutrition and aquafeed, and Griffith Foods, a global product development partner to the food industry, with expertise in market insights, food science, culinary and sensory optimization.

Strategic investors also include organizations with expertise in operations, sales, and distribution, including Pulmuone, a leader in healthy lifestyle and sustainable food products with distribution in Asia and North America; Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, a global investor and supplier of goods and services, including foods; Rich Products Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Rich Products Corporation, a leading supplier of icings, cakes, pizza, desserts, appetizers and bakery products.

FASTFACTS

• BlueNalu announced the completion of its $20 million Series A round of funding.

• The financing will allow the company to develop a pilot production facility in San Diego, expand its worldwide staff, implement strategic alliances for global operations and prepare for its market launch.

• The company secured $4.5 million in 2018 and has attracted investors from 11 nations so far, demonstrating global interest in the firm’s potential.

“BlueNalu has made considerable progress toward bringing cell-based seafood products to the world,” said Lou Cooperhouse, the company’s president and CEO.

“We have designed and executed a platform technology in which we will ultimately offer a broad array of sustainable cell-based seafood products to consumers, and our team has been extremely focused on implementing systems and processes that will be needed for cost-effective, large-scale production.

“We are thankful to the committed group of visionaries who participated in our earlier financing round and have invested again in this round, and we are eager to form partnerships with these five strategic investors, so that we can launch our cell-based seafood products in nations around the world,” he added.

“BlueNalu has demonstrated global leadership in cell-based seafood, and has the team, expertise, strategy and networks that are key to its success,” said Chuck Laue, co-founder and chair of Stray Dog Capital.

“As global demand for seafood continues to increase, and our supply continues to be compromised, we are excited at the potential for BlueNalu to play a significant role in feeding the planet in the decades to come.”

“BlueNalu has achieved a number of milestones in a short period of time, and we are proud to have backed this company since its origins,” said Chris Kerr, chief investment officer of New Crop Capital.

“We have seen extremely rapid global growth in plant-based foods, and BlueNalu is clearly at the forefront of this next generation of alternative proteins that many are predicting will have considerable growth and significant market penetration in the coming years.

“BlueNalu will offer a sustainable solution to consumers, free of mercury and environmental contaminants that will support the health, sustainability and biodiversity of our ocean. This is clearly a win-win-win for human health, sea life and for our planet,” he said.