The GCC countries are pumping an estimated US $36 billion for the development and upgrade of their port infrastructure amid increasing foreign non-oil trade volumes.
Saudi Arabia has allocated more than US $750 million for the port infrastructure development at Dammam’s King Abdul Aziz Port. The development plans include the launch of a second hi-tech container terminal in 2015, with capacity for 1.8 million TEUs per annum. The Kingdom also plans to undertake the Jizan Economic City project, which would also include port infrastructure plans. Some other major projects include the development of a US $46.4 million terminal at the northwestern port of Dhiba and two additional terminals at King Fahd Industrial Port in Jubail.
Qatar has also dedicated around US $7.1 billion for a mega port project, near the busy Messaeid Industrial Zone and Port. The port is expected to open in 2016, with a total capacity of six million TEU per year by 2028. The UAE will also expand the capacity of its terminal at Jebel Ali to 19 million TEU per annum, while Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port Terminal will also provide a capacity of additional 15 million TEU per annum upon completion in 2030.
At the same time, Oman will also invest about US $143 million at Salalah’s existing facilities to form a new maritime-meets-air hub. The first phase of a 1,061-kilometre long national railway system will include a link from Sohar Port to Al Misfah (Muscat) and onwards to Duqm Port. The railway system will also connect Sohar to the UAE border.
Figures of the UAE Federal Customs Authority suggest that non-oil trade soared to almost US $184.6 billion during first eight months of 2012. During this period, exports grew by 49 percent, while foreign non-oil imports also increased by 11 percent. According to Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, “the UAE, and its neighbors are fast becoming a more cohesive maritime and air trade power that will provide a vital link between the Far East and Australasia. Europe and North America; and with over US $36 billion investment into port transportation in some of the Gulf’s key destinations, the future potential for trade growth is unlimited”.