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    Saudi Arabia’s food and retail sectors are about to experience a fresh wave of growth buoyed by new mixed-use and leisure developments set to enter the market.

    Neom, the ambitious sustainable development project in northwestern Saudi Arabia, unveiled in December a food company, Topian. With a mission to revolutionise food production, distribution, and consumption, Topian focuses on five key areas: climate-proof agriculture, regenerative aquaculture, novel foods, personalised nutrition, as well as sustainable food supply and ESG (environmental, social and governance).

    Backed by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture (MEWA), Topian aligns closely with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to ensure food security, combat climate change, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2060.

    Topian also seeks to set a new standard in sustainable food production by fostering collaboration among scientists, industry experts, and innovators. Embracing the motto "Art of More with Less", it seeks to achieve food security while minimising environmental impact.

    Under the concept of "Future to Table", Topian plans to introduce innovative solutions to address global food system challenges arising from population growth, changing consumption patterns, climate change, and resource depletion.

    Topian has forged strategic partnerships with organisations like King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Tabuk University, Tabuk Fish Company, BlueNalu, Van der Hoeven HorticulturalProjects, and Cargill. Through these collaborations, Topian aims to advance research and development in innovative and sustainable food production methods.

    Moreover, Topian is dedicated to supporting local sustainable gastronomy, and nurturing Saudi talent through educational initiatives and training opportunities.


    Innovation is not restricted to new regions. Qiddiya Investment Company launched the Qiddiya project’s Gaming & Esports District in the capital Riyadh in December, marking the world's first multi-use gaming and esports hub.

    Geared towards attracting players globally, this district aims to bolster the kingdom’s status as a leading global hub for gaming and esports as laid out in the National Strategy for Gaming and Esports. This strategic move reflects the kingdom's commitment to tap the potential of a sector that has garnered widespread interest.

    The Gaming & Esports District at Qiddiya City is designed to cater not only to esports professionals but also to gaming enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, transforming the gaming experience into a tangible reality. The district is set to feature four arenas, including one of the world's largest esports stadiums with seating for 5,300 spectators, and cutting-edge facilities such as the largest indoor LED screen among esports venues globally

    Encompassing over 500,000 square metres (sq m), the district will offer a diverse array of amenities, including retail, dining, and entertainment spaces spanning 100,000 sq m. Additionally, game-themed accommodations will provide a home for gamers to live, work, and play.

    The district seeks to host up to 25 esports clubs from around the world. It will also serve as a regional hub for over 30 leading video game development companies.

    In addition, the Aseer Development Authority (ASDA) recently unveiled Seven’s latest entertainment destination in Aseer, marking the kingdom's fifth entertainment hub and the first in the region. Strategically positioned between Abha and Khamis Mushait, near Abha International Airport, the project boasts investment exceeding SAR 1.3 billion, spanning an area of 64,000 sq m with over 79,000 sq m of built-up space.

    Designed by Gensler, the architecture draws inspiration from Aseer's ancient stone buildings, aligning with The Urban Code of Aseer Region. The project aims to contribute SAR 4 billion to the GDP, attract 5 million visitors by 2030, and create hundreds of job opportunities. Seven has enlisted Modern Building Leaders for construction, with plans for eight unique attractions, including a family entertainment centre, a Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment collaboration, a Play-Doh themed centre, and an indoor golf adventure area. Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment events, e-karting, bowling, cinema, and a variety of retail and dining options.


    The Public Investment Fund (PIF) also sees the food sector as strategic as it invests in Tamimi Markets Company LLC, a prominent domestic grocery store chain, through a capital increase and subscription for new shares. This move reflects PIF's strategy to foster the private sector and cultivate Saudi national champions.

    Under the agreement, PIF will acquire a 30% stake in Tamimi Markets, subject to regulatory approvals and specific conditions outlined in the agreement. PIF has a history of strategic investments in the consumer goods and retail sector, including in Noon.com and Americana Restaurants International PLC. These investments form part of the authorities’ goal to develop key sectors in Saudi Arabia.

    PIF’s acquisition of stake in Tamimi Markets will elevate the company from a leading national grocery chain to a major regional player, supporting its expansion plans and potentially paving the way for an initial public offering (IPO). It seeks to strengthen Saudi presence in the grocery sector, capitalise on online market growth, and enhance product offerings through international sourcing centres.


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