Abu Yasser: “Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest market for livestock” [Archives:2007/1041/Business & Economy]

April 12 2007

Interviewed by: Yasser Al-Mayasi
Businessman Mohammed Qaid Sa'eed, also known as Abu Yasser, is a Yemeni immigrant living in Saudi Arabia. He owns a group of companies working in the agricultural sector and livestock production. His most recent investment was in Djibouti, where he invested $75 million to create a state-of-the-art regional quarantine and livestock facility to supply meat for markets in the Middle East and Africa. The Yemen Times met with Abu Yasser and asked him about his investments in the region.

Please brief us on your interests in the meat and livestock industry.

I have a family history in the meat and livestock industry, and as you know, I live in Saudi Arabia, which is a considerably large market for meat products, consuming more than 24 million livestock annually; hence, came the idea to invest more in this industry and expand our operations.

We now have several companies working in livestock slaughter and meat retailing in Saudi Arabia, a shoe factory in Italy, which uses animal fur and skin as raw materials to make shoes, and most recently, a quarantine facility in Djibouti to ensure supply to our other companies.

What's the idea behind establishing the quarantine facility in Djibouti?

First, as a foreign investor, the Djiboutian government facilitated my work as an investor, as every employee in its government in sincere in their work and keen to welcome foreign investment.

Secondly, as we've grown in Saudi Arabia, there's a constant need to ensure a continuous supply of livestock for the Saudi market. Should our supply have any problem regarding health hazards, it would create a potentially devastating risk for our business.

The last point is that having our own quarantine facility ensures quality control over our livestock, so that we can ensure that our standards are above industry average to allow us to continue providing quality meat products for our consumers in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Tell us more about your quarantine facility.

Built on 600 square hectares, our facility includes 40 barns, each holding up to 3,000 sheep at once. Additionally, there are 20 cattle barns, each holding up to 1,000 cattle, plus 10 camel barns, each holding up to 1,000 camels.

In the first year of operation, we provided more than 300,000 sheep and goats for the 2006 Hajj season, apart from the normal demand for regular meat products, which annually ranges from 5-10 million heads of livestock.

Our facility has been constructed to ensure that we set the best practice for the industry and it's come to my attention that, upon visiting our facility, authorities in Saudi Arabia have decided to lift the ban on livestock coming from Africa through our facility, which is considered a great achievement for our facility.

Please tell us about your expansion plans.

We plan to export our meat products to other nations, including Yemen and other Gulf countries, Egypt and Syria, in addition to other Arab and Islamic countries. We're also considering plans to construct similar facilities in different parts of the region, depending on investment conditions and market prospects.