Interview : Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi
What advantages can Abu Dhabi’s seaports leverage as cargo destinations?
MOHAMED JUMA AL SHAMISI: Over the past years we witnessed the growth of global shipping alliances, a trend that benefitted us as we have worked to develop close partnerships with shipping companies such as COSCO SHIPPING Ports (CSP). In December 2018 CSP inaugurated its Middle East hub at Khalifa Port, a deepwater semi-automated container terminal that includes a 275,000-sq-metre container freight station. This station is the largest in the region, placing Abu Dhabi at the heart of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The CSP Abu Dhabi terminal will link the UAE to the world, with freight costs expected to drop dramatically. Coupled with a strategic geographic advantage, CSP has furthermore enabled us to sign a strategic deal with China’s Jiangsu Province, which leased 2.2 sq km within Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone, located at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD). The UAEChina Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone has the goal of bringing together investors and businesses from Jiangsu to set up operations and serve the UAE and the wider region.
Khalifa Port’s expansion has been further enhanced by a 30-year concession with a second international operator – Swiss-based shipping and logistics firm Mediterranean Shipping Company – to develop and operate the Khalifa Port Container Terminal, followed by a 15-year concession with Spain’s Autoterminal Barcelona to build a dedicated car terminal.
How is KIZAD working to grow its tenant base?
AL SHAMISI: For us, KIZAD and Khalifa Port offer integrated value prepositions for companies, as they are linked to the entire world via the deep-sea port. This enables customers to distribute goods locally, giving them direct access to the GCC, the Middle East and global markets. KIZAD has unique offerings for tenants such as world-class infrastructure, a multi-modal transportation network, competitive utility costs, innovative solutions such as KIZAD Logistics City and KIZAD Construction City, the availability of production clusters, including food and metals, among others, as well as dedicated investor support services.
The advantages are not limited to existing infrastructure but also the scale of land available for investors, which could then consolidate their business in the region within a single location. Much can be tailored to suit the needs of any business venture, whether a small firm or large multinational, and we are now offering pre-built warehouses and light industrial units as well. KIZAD has attracted leading brands and multinational companies. China is our key major partner and we are confident we will benefit from further opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative.
What role will other ports within Abu Dhabi play in the UAE’s connectivity ambitions?
AL SHAMISI: Fujairah Port is a strategically important facility due to its location on the Indian Ocean and outside the Gulf, and because it complements and extends the services provided at Khalifa Port and Zayed Port. In 2017 we signed a 35-year concession agreement with Fujairah Port Authority. Abu Dhabi Ports immediately engaged on the infrastructure and superstructure development, and immediately engaged with the port’s development, investing in new equipment – primarily giant gantry cranes – to service the new generation of ships. The Dh1bn ($272.2m) of investments will support growth in containers, general cargo, roll-on/roll-off and cruise tourism.
Abu Dhabi already has two cruise destinations in the Gulf and will soon add a third destination in Fujairah. This will extend its existing services and offerings to clients. In addition to this, we aim to strengthen and expand our community ports in the Al Dhafra region, having already developed the Al Mirfa Port from a natural beach harbour into a fully enclosed facility.
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