AL SHAMISI: Because COSCO chose Khalifa Port as a home port and as a hub in the region, we are already on the map of China’s One Belt, One Road. This unlocked so many opportunities, not only for Abu Dhabi, but for the entire UAE. This enabled us to sign a strategic deal with China – Jiangsu province in particular. They will be bringing the factories from Jiangsu that want to expand to serve the region and also to export to other countries.
AL MASABI: Jiangsu Province Corporation will bring an investment of $1.1bn, and they will sell and market this big plot to Chinese companies. They will attract more businesses to that area, and that can generate more volumes and big throughput through the ports.
Unique industrial offering
AL SHAMISI: Having a deepsea port linked to the entire world, this by itself a unique proposition because this enables us to distribute locally [via] the connectivity with Saudi Arabia and our neighbouring counties, and the connectivity to other countries. Having the right infrastructure adds to this proposition as well.
AL MASABI: Today, the whole global market is moving through digitalisation.
AL SHAMISI: We moved two steps further by linking to other countries. Today, Maqta Gateway and Abu Dhabi Ports is linked to China, linked to two ports in Europe, and to other ports. So in the future – and this is the heart of ease of doing business – you will be able to track your containers, track your commodities, even from the source, before it reaches here. So you will be able to pre-clear, and you can imagine how much quicker the turnaround would be.
Ports of call
AL SHAMISI: When it comes to cruise businesses and cruise facilities, the biggest challenge in this region is that we don’t have enough destinations because, usually, it’s a rotation of seven days. Our challenge is that we have limited stops for the cruise businesses. That’s why we created the Arabian Alliance, along with Dubai, Oman, Bahrain and now even Saudi Arabia.
AL MASABI: The last seasons, 2016 and 2017, have seen big growth on the cruise side, where we have witnessed close to 48% growth in passenger volume and 40% in vessel calls. Also, it was the longest-ever cruise season in the whole history of Abu Dhabi. But we didn’t stop there, we also thought of new ideas of how we can develop this sector further. We came up with the development of Sir Bani Yas – that, by itself, added another destination to the itinerary of all cruise vessels, and extended the time they are staying within the Gulf.
AL SHAMISI: Now we are adding a third cruise destination in Fujairah Port. We started having relationships with different regions and different countries. We started with China; we are part of One Belt, One Road, but definitely this is just the start.