By Hamid Mughniyeh and Saeed AlmasmariThe Washington Times | June 27, 2019 14:12:06By Hamid FaresAl MasmariAl MasbariWASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is developing a large-scale food-processing plant to make products for global markets and is working with a US-based food-tech company to commercialize products, a Saudi news agency reported on Wednesday.
The news agency said the plant is to be built in the eastern city of Al Jassah and will create a $4.3 billion export market for the kingdom, adding that the project is under construction.
The Saudi News Agency did not provide further details on the nature of the project or its price.
The Saudi government has recently invested $500 million in food processing plants in the United States and Europe.
The United States has been pushing Saudi Arabia to expand food processing capacity and to help develop its agricultural sector.
Last month, the Saudi government announced a $20 billion investment to help the country’s agricultural sector and boost exports, which the government said is the largest single-year investment in the kingdom’s agriculture sector since the 1990s.
Saudi Arabia has faced criticism over the quality of its food since the civil war in neighboring Yemen erupted in 2015, with millions of people displaced by the conflict.
The United States, the European Union and others have imposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia over its alleged role in the war, which has killed thousands of people and displaced millions.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday that the kingdom has a duty to help people in need, even if they are from neighboring countries.
“We have to take responsibility for people, even from countries that are hostile to Saudi Arabia,” Jubeir said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The Associated Press has reported that Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with an American company, U.S.-based company Algora Inc, to build a food processing plant in Al Jasaad, Saudi Arabia’s westernmost province.
Algora is based in Washington state, and the United Arab Emirates, where it operates a food-testing and testing facility, according a report by Reuters.
The report did not specify the location of the plant.
A United States official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the government has not officially commented on the Saudi deal, said that the United Kingdom is working on a similar deal with the United Arabian Emirates.
The UAE has been among the top exporters of food and other goods to the United Nations.
The country is also among the largest producers of food in the Middle East and the Gulf, and its food imports from the United Sates are estimated at more than $4 billion.