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MENA’s largest fish canning factory begins operations in Duqm SEZ

The largest fish canning factory in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region began operations at a site in Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the first quarter of 2024. The International Seafood Company (Simak), a subsidiary of Fisheries Development Oman is the largest tuna and sardine canning plant in the region, spanning over an area of 85,000 m2 with a production capacity of 100 million cans per year.

Speaking to the Observer, Chief Executive Officer of Simak, Eng Zakariya al Hasni, shared that Oman produces over 750,000 metric tonnes of fishery products per year, making it the largest producer in the Middle East, which justifies a significant investment in the industry.

Furthermore, Simak identified a significant gap in the MENA market, he stated. “Most of the cans available in the region, even those from regional brands, are imported from East Asia, accounting for 90% to 95% of the supply. This presents a significant opportunity for us to introduce our brand, Simak. Oman, being well-known for its abundant fisheries resources and proximity to the Middle Eastern market, is well-positioned to fill this gap.” The company also intends to expand to European and American markets.

According to the CEO, the factory’s location creates a win-win situation for all parties. Located near the Duqm Industrial Fishery Port, also a subsidiary of FDO, the factory’s location allows the company to source produce from artisanal fishermen directly, while saving on transportation costs.

“Most of the fish landed in Duqm will come through this port, which is only two to three kilometres away. This proximity facilitates our engagement with the local artisanal fishermen, making it more convenient and advantageous for them to collaborate with us. By significantly reducing their operational costs, we eliminate the need for them to transport their catch to distant locations in the north or south of Oman. The transportation cost savings will be substantial.” Additionally, the factory’s location within the SEZ at Duqm, allows for the export to other global free economic zones with zero tariffs or taxes.

“We’re in a free economic zone, which means exporting to other free zones worldwide incurs zero tariffs or taxes. And here, anything we report also faces no taxes.” The company has a output capacity of 192,000 cans of sardines and 180,000 cans of tuna per day. Simak products are expected to be available in local markets within the next month.