Three years after moving to the United Arab Emirates to set up a salmon import and distribution network, Norwegian-owned Vikings Label shifted course to take advantage of investor potential in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The company plans to build a land-based facility to produce 5,000 metric tons of salmon within the next 18 months to initially serve the lucrative Saudi market, with plans to export within the region in the near future.

"I moved here for several reasons but mostly because it is a region of incredible progress, business-minded people, and the weather of course," CEO Lukas Havn told IntraFish.

Currently, the Middle East is void of land-based salmon farms, but there is increasing investor appetite in the region for more sustainable projects, said Havn.

"We originally started work on the project in Dubai, but then gained interest from Saudi Arabia where the investors are more promising," Havn said. "It's a really fast-growing salmon market with the eating habits changing towards to more healthier diets."

Saudi authorities have ambitions to double fish consumption per capita in the country to 13 kilos by the end of 2020 and 22 kilos by 2030.

Who's on board?

Vikings Label is owned by Norwegian father and son, CEO Lukas and CFO Tore. Along with Middle Eastern Investment Advisory Bridge Partners Managing Partner Graham David Bell, who handles company's finances, and the CEO of an automotive business, they are currently the only investors. They are actively seeking capital for the $90 million (€81 million) Saudi Arabian salmon farm.

"We want the majority of our investors to be either strategic, contributors or individuals who share our visions for this," Havn said.