Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Fisheries Company recently hatched its first batch of native sobaity bream larvae – a breakthrough that could pave the way to diversifying the Middle East’s burgeoning aquaculture sector. At the crossroads between Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is rapidly developing itself as an aquaculture powerhouse. This year our collaborators, Jonah van Beijnen, Kyra Hoevenaars, and Gidon Minkoff from VB Consultancy and Greg Yann from Best Alternatives, will present a monthly contribution with the latest developments in the region, including country overviews, development of new species and technologies, and zooming in on specific companies. Aquaculture in the Middle East is still largely reliant on fingerlings of Mediterranean species, but both the government and the private sector strongly believe that developing hatchery technology and grow-out technology for native species is key for building a strong local aquaculture sector. Besides grouper and kingfish, one of the target native species is the sobaity seabream, also known as the silvery-black porgy. It is a carnivorous fish that naturally occurs in the Arabian Gulf and the Western Indian Ocean and is appreciated in markets across the Middle East. As the species is mainly available only from capture fisheries, supply is irregular and limited. Local experts therefore agree that the sustainable closed-cycle aquaculture of sobaity has considerable potential.