Saudi Arabia to Build Asia’s Largest Olive Mill

NADEC, the largest ecological olive oil producer in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, will build the largest olive mill in Asia to boost its production.

Photo courtesy of B Alotaby
Mar. 27, 2019
By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas
Photo courtesy of B Alotaby

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Spain’s Grupo GEA and the National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC), the largest eco­log­i­cal olive oil pro­ducer in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, have signed an agree­ment to build Asia’s largest olive mill.

The mill will be located in the province of Al-Jouf, which is sit­u­ated in the north of the coun­try and is in close prox­im­ity to where NADEC is in the process of plant­ing five mil­lion olive trees on 7,400 acres.

The major­ity of the olive trees planted will be Picual, in what is expected to be the world’s largest olive orchard, which fea­tures super inten­sive cul­ti­va­tion with mod­ern drip irri­ga­tion sys­tems.

See Also:Africa and the Middle East

The state-of-the art oil mill, which is expected to be oper­a­tional in six months, is a turnkey project with a cost that exceeds €3 mil­lion ($3.41 mil­lion).

The project rep­re­sents a new stage in the rela­tion­ship between NADEC and GEA, which in 2016 com­pleted the first phase of this project. With the sec­ond phase, GEA will deliver an olive oil mill offer­ing an inte­grated solu­tion that encom­passes civil and automa­tion engi­neer­ing, pro­cess­ing, train­ing and the required indus­trial equip­ment.


The pro­cess­ing lines have been built to respond to dif­fer­ent require­ments, depend­ing on national tra­di­tions and the size of the har­vest. These fac­tors will dic­tate which kind of pro­duc­tion meth­ods are cho­sen.

GEA sup­plies com­plete pro­cess­ing lines from tak­ing in and clean­ing of the olives to milling, malax­ing (con­tin­u­ous or batch,) sep­a­ra­tion and decant­ing. Once oil is obtained the pro­cess­ing lines can also han­dle treat­ing pomace as well as water. The tai­lor-made sys­tems have also been designed in order to obtain the max­i­mum pos­si­ble yield and qual­ity, while min­i­miz­ing water con­sump­tion.

The mill will be built in Úbeda, Andalusia, and then trans­ported to Saudi Arabia. GEA’s project will bring together the exper­tise of sev­eral machin­ery man­u­fac­tur­ers from Spain to craft the inte­grated solu­tion that sets apart this turnkey project from other mills in the region.

Saudi Arabia began to plant olive trees back in 2007 in Al-Jouf in order to sup­ply its domes­tic con­sump­tion. According to olive expert, Juan Vilar, by 2018 Saudi Arabia had planted nearly 52,000 acres of olive groves.

Desert areas divide olive groves, located north and south of Saudi Arabia, where olive trees are han­dled with great respect because of their spir­i­tual value in Islam. Most of Saudi Arabia has a desert cli­mate with extremely low rain­fall and extreme tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences between day and night.

Al-Jouf is con­sid­ered the kingdom’s olive resort, with a rich cul­tural her­itage and diverse nat­ural envi­ron­ment which makes it one of Saudi Arabia’s top tourist des­ti­na­tions.

Saudi Arabia is home to three of the world’s largest mod­ern olive groves in terms of den­sity, dimen­sion and cul­ti­va­tion tech­niques. Cultivation in the coun­try is com­pletely mech­a­nized. Almost 80 per­cent of the Kingdom’s olive cul­ti­va­tion is geared toward olive oil pro­duc­tion and the remain­ing 20 per­cent to table olives.

The con­struc­tion of this olive mill is a new stage in a work­ing rela­tion­ship between Spain and Saudi Arabia toward the con­sol­i­da­tion of the latter’s olive and olive oil indus­tries. Al-Jouf’s University and the University of Jaén are col­lab­o­rat­ing in research top­ics related to the olive sec­tor to improve pro­duc­tion capac­ity.

A total of 21 research projects are planned as part of this agree­ment respon­si­ble for the cre­ation of an Advanced Center for Olive and Olive Oil Studies, and the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy and tech­ni­cal knowl­edge.


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