Technology and infrastructure developments have paved the way for Abu Dhabi's rapid urbanisation. Building on this platform, Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) supports the UAE's long-term growth with the opening of Khalifa Port. Serving as the new gateway for container volume, the port will boost UAE's trade relations with international markets.
"We support the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030," says ADT CEO Martijn Van de Linde. "With the development of Khalifa Port and our continued work in Abu Dhabi's other main ports, we provide Abu Dhabi's businesses with optimal access to global markets."
The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 is about securing long-term, sustainable growth by diversifying the economy so that there is less dependency on the oil and gas sectors. It also calls for substantial investments in developing knowledge-based industries and infrastructure, both necessary for achieving the goals of the nation.
The vision of ADT is clear - to operate Khalifa Port with an eye on the future, benefiting from the regional growth in container traffic and new business opportunities in the UAE, the Middle East and overseas.
With the support of its parent companies - Abu Dhabi Ports Company, Mubadala and Mubadala Infrastructure Partners - Khalifa Port will be developed in five phases over the next 20 years.
The first phase of Khalifa Port is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter this year, ahead of the projected completion time. Van de Linde adds: "It is testament to the hard work and efforts of the ADT team and its partners that we will commence the international vessel trials earlier. The advanced technology, equipment, training and manpower all demonstrate ADT's forward-thinking vision and embody the pre-eminent force of Khalifa Port."
Khalifa Port has been planned in a systematic way and the master plan includes well-constructed, structured phased developments. The first phase allows for an annual handling capacity of 2.5 million TEU (20-foot equivalent units) container traffic. When fully built out, the port will be able to accommodate 15 million TEU and 30 million tonnes of general cargo per year.
ADT boasts a compelling and first-rate blend of local and international terminal experts, supported by a team of professionals who have worked in many of the world's leading terminals.
The opening of Khalifa Port realises the significant ambitions of ADT in providing the opportunity to service the world's largest container vessels on the shores of Abu Dhabi.
Centrally located between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, providing strategic access to the entire UAE market base, Khalifa Port will revolutionise the way business is done in the UAE by introducing the most recent and advanced technology to the port industry. This includes automated gates with radio-frequency identification readers and OCR portals, unmanned and automated stacking cranes and some of the world's largest ship-to-shore gantry cranes.
"Khalifa Port will be the first semi-automated container terminal in this region. Our container yard will be operated by unmanned automated cranes, a concept only in use at a few terminals around the world. ADT will be the first port operator in the Middle East to deploy such technology," Van de Linde says.
Commenting on the developments, ADT's chief commercial officer Julian Skyrme says: "ADT is taking a leading role in facilitating the continuous and smooth flow of trade activities between Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the world. This substantial infrastructure investment dramatically increases port capacity and powers Abu Dhabi's continued economic growth. Khalifa Port will not only accommodate the rapidly growing container traffic that is currently handled in Mina Zayed, but also the growth stemming from new business generated by Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), which aims to be one of the largest industrial zones in the world."
ADT caters to all market segments
Before embarking on the Khalifa Port project, ADT built expertise through its three other ports. With four ports, ADT provides multiple channels of entry to the Abu Dhabi market.
ADT has an expansive suite of services that includes a dedicated container terminal, a container freight station, warehousing, cold storage and general cargo terminal.
The company plays an important role in Abu Dhabi's foreign trade, says commercial director Salmeen Bin Obaid Al Ameri.
He says: "ADT offers international businesses direct access to one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. We operate the emirate's main ports, so it is essential that we cater for all market segments, and provide businesses with access to global markets."
The first port, Mina Zayed, was built in 1972. Its range of offerings includes a container terminal, general cargo services, Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo), a container freight station, warehousing, state-of-the-art cold store facility and cruise terminal solutions.
Mina Zayed has 21 berths. Four of the berths are dedicated container berths and 17 are general cargo berths for bulk, break bulk and RoRo traffic. There are also dedicated berths for cruise ships during UAE's cruise season.
ADT's strong support to the cruise industry has been instrumental in driving tourism. When ADT began servicing cruise ships in 2006, there were 6,158 passengers. With continued service improvements, ADT helps cruise lines operate more efficiently and thus attract more passengers. During the season that ended in April this year, Abu Dhabi welcomed 160,000 passengers.
Container handling in Mina Zayed reached an all-time high last year. There were 767,713 TEU imported and exported through Mina Zayed, an increase of 47 per cent over the same period in 2010. In the first quarter of this year, ADT showed a robust performance with further growth of 10 per cent in the container segment, 16 per cent in the general cargo and bulk business and 20 per cent in RoRo. The number of cruise passengers handled in the port increased by 8 per cent.
"It is very rewarding to see the continued growth in cargo handling in Abu Dhabi. The vast majority of our nation's international trade is seaborne, so this is a good indication that Abu Dhabi's population and economy have developed favourably," Van de Linde says. "The growth also reaffirms the positive decision to invest in the new container terminal at Khalifa Port. Moving to our new container terminal in Khalifa Port will allow us to grow the business and increase service levels to our customers."
The Free Port, located next to Mina Zayed, is in the heart of Abu Dhabi City and has 49 berths. Most of these berths are used for bunkering and freshwater facilities for vessels and crafts serving the offshore oil-fields. The port also caters to RoRo operations and a wide variety of other vessels.
Located at the centre of Abu Dhabi's industrial area, Mussafah Port has an expanse of 37,500 square metres. It is ideal for industrial and project cargo operations as well as warehousing. The Abu Dhabi Municipality has designated six industrial zones adjacent to Mussafah Port that cover all industries.
Zone one is for automobiles, machinery and spare parts. Zone two is for food, textiles and soft drink manufacturers.
Engineering works, wood and herbal industries go to zone three. Chemical, plastic and petrochemical industries are in zone four, while zone five will house building and construction-related materials. Zone six is for advanced-technology industries.
ADT's commitment to world-class service levels at all its ports is further underlined by the international health, safety, environmental management and quality certifications it maintains. They include the Quality Management System (QMS) for ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 in Environmental Management Standard and Occupational Health and Safety Management System.
Boosting Asia-UAE trade relations
According to the HSBC Trade Connections Report published this February, trade with Asia will be a primary economic driver for the UAE in the years to come. The key markets for the UAE in Asia are South Korea, India and, in particular, the mainland. Trade between the UAE and the mainland grew by 35 per cent last year. At the UAE and China Economic Forum in 2010, it was forecast that the mainland will be UAE's No 1 trade partner by 2015, with trade value set to exceed HK$776.28 billion.
The UAE is the traditional gateway for Chinese companies serving the Middle East. Approximately, 70 per cent of Chinese exports to the UAE were re-exported to the Gulf Co-operation Council region, Africa and Europe.
Aiming to be a catalyst for the UAE's flourishing Asian trade, ADT maintains strong communication ties with shipping lines, service companies, importers and exporters to discuss optimum ways of handling cargo.
"We study the local and regional developments and traffic patterns, and work with shipping lines to maximise and improve their networks and other value drivers. Potentially, this creates a better service coverage and lowers freight costs for the trade," Skyrme says.
ADT works closely with other companies to further transform Abu Dhabi into a leading logistics and transport hub. This includes shipping lines and logistics operators as well as Kizad and a number of importers and exporters.
With Khalifa Port's strategic location, companies can benefit from the combined value propositions that the port and industrial zone can offer.
Khalifa Port provides a number of opportunities for the shipping lines. "Khalifa Port is directly adjacent to Kizad, well-positioned to benefit from the substantial volumes it will generate. The first movers will be at an advantage," Al Ameri says.
"The service offering at our new port is second to none, so this also paves the way for businesses to use it as an alternative hub for accessing other regional markets."
ADT is pioneering infrastructure developments that meet the needs of all international customers seeking world-class ports in the Middle East.