Abu al-Seoud, a former Egyptian mechanical engineer, and his associate Alaa Saaba, created a juicy business through the sale of scorpion venom. At their facility in Dakhla, they extract the powerful toxin from several thousand of these dangerous arachnids by driving an electrical signal into their tails. An initiative that could very well pay off for them.
The Egyptian desert is populated by a multitude of scorpion species, whose venom is particularly sought after for its potential pharmacological properties. This is enough to give ideas to an entrepreneurial soul like that of Abu al-Seoud, a former mechanical engineer, who decided to start trading in venom. Indeed, if Egypt has always been a reference in the sector, venom was often produced illegally or in very small quantities.
It is important to know that the precious excipient sells for about 7000 dollars per gram. Pharmaceutical laboratories are studying its potential antimicrobial, immunosuppressive and anti-cancer effects, with the hope of one day being able to synthesize them with the aim of making drugs. However, since a scorpion produces no more than half a milligram of venom every 20 or 30 days, it takes between 3,000 and 3,500 scorpions to produce a single gram of the powerful toxin.
The business is launched
This is why, at its facility in Dakhla, the company stores thousands of these dangerous animals, whose life expectancy can reach 25 years, and uses small electrical discharges to stimulate them and make them react to a stressful situation by producing the famous venom, their defense mechanism. Thanks to this ingenious system, the engineer has already succeeded in extracting about three grams of venom. The precious liquid, once extracted, is then dried in a laboratory in Cairo and packaged as a powder.
In hunting arachnids, the teams involve the local inhabitants and take particular care to keep to the inhabited areas so as not to disturb the ecological balance. The “hunters” are paid approximately one to 1.5 Egyptian pounds (five to eight cents) per scorpion captured.