Despite the dark clouds surrounding the Middle East in general with the Iran crisis and sanctions disrupting many businesses, the UAE seems to be resilient and upbeat about growth in the region.
The 2 largest container terminals in the UAE, Jebel Ali Port – the flagship of DP World and KCT – Khorfakkan Container Terminal continue to grow after posting record figures in 2010 with a slight decrease in 2011.
Jebel Ali Port has revealed expansion plans with an investment of US$850 Million over 3 years to convert an existing general cargo terminal into a container terminal. The new terminal will have the capacity of handling vessels upto a draft of 17 meters with the state of the art cranes for efficient and quick cargo operations. The new facility will be fully operational by the end of 2014 when the port’s handling capacity will grow to 19 million teu annually.
KCT on the other hand has secured major business from the French carrier CMA CGM. This has given a significant boost to the terminal making it CMA CGM’s biggest Middle East hub. KCT also happens to be the only major container terminal on the east coast of UAE giving it the geographical advantage over other container terminals. A major dredging and renovation program shall enhance the Port’s handling capacity of deep draft vessels.
The leading container carrier of UAE, UASC has recently taken delivery of one of it’s first 13,500teu capacity container vessel. The first of the nine vessels on order which are scheduled to be in service by May 2012, UASC is poised for substantial growth and will soon be a stronger competitor in the container market. New trade lines between Europe and Far East are planned with direct calls to the Middle East, the company’s core market.
The Middle East still has potential for growth in the Marine market and this potential is now being tapped by prudent and pragmatic investors in the UAE, though cautiously and being aware of the market trends and politically driven scenarios.