Top 10 Middle East Ports


A look at the leading shipping ports in the Middle East:


DP World Jebel Ali

There can be no question that the Mega Terminal in Jebel Ali is the jewel in the crown of Middle Eastern port facilities. By far the busiest and best-equipped port in the region, it has set new standards and paved the way for much of the development in the surrounding areas and associated maritime industry.

The port of Mina Jebel Ali has the largest man-made harbor in the world, with 71 berths and extensive dry dock capability. Testament to its size are claims that when it was constructed in 1979 it was one of only three man-made objects visible from space, the others being the Hoover Dam and the Great Wall of China.

The proximity of the Jebel Ali Free Zone (established in 1980), made the port a magnet and highly competitive port-of-choice for international businesses, who have continued to benefit from the increasing consumer and industrial demands of the flourishing emirate.

The container handling facilities are simply unrivalled in the region. The addition of 14 mega gantry cranes received in 2005 and six more this year (bringing the total to a staggering 45) are the largest of their kind in the world and the first of their type to be installed in the Middle East. Each of these cranes is capable of lifting two 40 foot or four Already one of the best container transshipment ports in the world, Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) is gearing up for the next century. The natural deep-water port is being massively expanded, with further phase two development, originally scheduled for 2008, now 20 foot containers simultaneously.

The economies of efficiency are also unrivalled at Jebel Ali. This summer saw a record-breaking 8571 moves in a single vessel operation, undertaken in a time just shy of 41 hours. The tandem-lift cranes used in this operation had been specially commissioned for the port.

In a further nod to its reputation in the business, Jebel Ali scooped the Best Seaport Award in the Middle East for the 12th consecutive year at the Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards. 9000 professionals voted for the accolade across the entire freight forwarding industry, incorporating considerations such as cost competitiveness, facilitation of ancillary services, and timely and adequate investment in new infrastructure.

The port’s equipment list alone is sure to make any other operator in the region green with envy:

Container Cranes Panamax: 4
Container Cranes Post Panamax: 8
Container Cranes Super Post Panamax: 27
Mobile Harbor Cranes: 2
Forklift Trucks: 178
Empty Container Handlers: 32
Terminal Trailers: 378
Terminal Tractors: 390
Reefer Points: 2325


Khorfakkan Container Terminal

Already one of the best container transshipment ports in the world, Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) is gearing up for the next century. The natural deep-water port is being massively expanded, with further phase two development, originally scheduled for 2008, now being brought forward. Khorfakkan Container Terminal has a superb geographical position in the context of today’s huge and efficient deep sea container trades. Located on Sharjah’s Indian Ocean Coast, it is close to the main east-west shipping lanes, and outside the sensitive straits of Hormuz.

Leading shipping lines, including United Arab Shipping Corp, DSR Senator, Cho Yang Lines, CMA, NSCSA and Hanjin have been quick to realize the cost and time savings they can gain by using Khorfakkan as a hub port for transshipment traffic into the Arabian Gulf, subcontinent and East Africa.

Augmenting the port facilities, the container repair depot at Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) offers major shipping firms a one-stop-shop scenario for their Middle East needs.


King Abdul Aziz Port

King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam is enjoying another record year, with the volume of cargo handled up more than 10% on 2005. The port is the principal transshipment hub for goods leaving and entering the Eastern and Central provinces of Saudi Arabia.

Geographically, it is strategically placed to service the requirements of the oil industry, the continuing development of Riyadh, and the major provincial cities for this area.

Over two million dead weight tons of petrochemical goods have already been exported from the port this year. The facility has its own administration offices, mechanical and marine workshops, electrical, telephone and marine communications networks, and a dedicated water refinery. On site it boasts a health clinic, fire department and a housing complex for port employees, including mosques and a supermarket.

There is an excellent highway system connecting the Dammam port with the rest of the Kingdom and with adjacent Gulf states, in addition to a railway link direct to Riyadh Dry Port.

The vast port covers an area of 193 million meters squared and has already handled over 2.86 million TEUs this year. To cope with anticipated increases in traffic, two container gantry cranes have recently been refurbished, making a total of eight in operation. There are 15 new straddle carriers, 25 terminal tractors, 20 three-tone forklift trucks and two empty container handlers are also being added to the fleet. The expansion plans will also incorporate installation of 300 refer points for chilled goods.


Port of Aden

The Port of Aden in Yemen covers an area some eight nautical miles east-west and three nautical miles north-south. Situated between the promontories of Aden (Jebel Shamsan, 553m) and Little Aden (Jebel Muzalqam, 374m) the facility is located in a secure natural harbor.

The outer section of the channel has a depth of 16 meters. Extensive services available include nine alongside berths, plus six buoy and three bunkering (dolphin) berths.

On the north side of the inner harbor, the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) provides 700 meters of quay, King Abdul Aziz Port also with a deep draft (completed in March 1999).

A number of mobile cranes are available, including one 50 ton capacity heavy-lift crane. Yemen Ports Authority (YPA) also operate a 30 ton capacity floating crane.

The Aden Container Terminal has two container berths, each 350 meters in length. These berths are equipped with four 40 ton capacity (under the spreader) Reggiani super post Panamax shore gantry cranes (1999), with a 52 meter outreach from the quay wall.

Services available include ship repair, bunkering, towage, dry docking, launch service, medical facilities, fresh water, dirty ballast reception, repatriation, marine/engineering surveys, gyro/radio repairs and life raft repair and survey. For the storage of chilled and frozen goods, the container yard has 252 reefer container power points.


Imam Khomeini Port Complex

Access to free waters, railways and road transport networks, combined with geographical proximity to the major industrial centers, has helped this facility become one of the most significant container terminals in the region.

The port is located at the south western tip of Iran and covers an area of 1041 hectares.

With 40 piers, 29 well-equipped sheds with a total area of 287,940m2, and annual loading capacity touching 35 million tons, the Imam Khomeini Port is one of the largest commercial ports in the Persian Gulf.

Up to 110,000 tone capacity ships can berth at the port. The complex has marine and road access to major regional markets, including Iraq, Kuwait and Central Asia, as well as the European market, via Turkey. It is also is close to Iran’s largest special petrochemical zone.

More recently, two 40 ton capacity post-Panamax gantry cranes are under construction and the extension of a main jetty to accommodate 150,000 ton vessels is planned for completion in the first quarter of next year.

Businesses operating in the Imam Khomeini Port’s export terminal also qualify for financial incentives from the Trade Promotion Organization.


Port of Aqaba

Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT) is the sole Jordanian container facility, located in the seaport of Aqaba.

The port sits at the crossroads of four countries and three continents. As the major gateway for the national market, as well as for transit cargo moving to and from other countries in the region, the facility is working hard to meet the demands of the 21st century.

The port is investing US$500 million over 25 years, and is aligning itself with the ultra-modern facilities in the Middle East.

An agreement in September with UAE firm Lamnalco and Jordanian Shipping Lines (JNSL) to provide an additional $15 million investment over the next 15 years, including a modernization of the facilities and the purchase of additional equipment, is helping to maintain the progress made so far.

This month saw the delivery of gantry cranes and RTGs totaling $30 million. By 2008, the berth will be extended, with an extra 450-500m being added, while the development of the RTG yards takes place early next year.

By the end of 2006, a total of 14 RTGs and five gantry cranes will be operational. From a modest starting point of only 7.7 moves per hour in 2003, the terminal has boosted its hourly capacity to over 28 moves per hour and now runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While current annual capacity stands at 750,000 TEUs, the management’s grand plan is to advance this beyond the 3.1 million mark.

The port was nominated for the Lloyds List ‘‘Best Container Terminal in the Middle East’’ for the improvements it has implemented over recent years.


DP World Fujairah

DP World Port Fujairah is the only seaport on the east coast of the UAE.

Freight forwarders have a long association with the port, utilizing the shipping services, which call at all Arabian Gulf ports, the Red Sea, Iran, India and Pakistan on weekly feeder vessels.

Mainline services arrive from the UK, North Europe, Mediterranean, Far East and North America on a weekly service and offer sailing twice weekly to the Far East and once a week to North America.

Modern facilities, including 1400 meters of continuous berth dredged to a depth of 10.5 - 15 meters, six ship-to-shore gantry cranes and 11 rubber-tyred yard cranes, keep the port poised to handle the region’s substantial growth.

Sea/air forwarders take advantage of the proximity of the international airport, which is located just five kilometers from the port gates. A skilled workforce supported by an extensive range of modern equipment, including all types of cargo slings, forklifts and trailers, ensures quick turnaround on a 24 hour basis.

A paved storage area of half a million square meters can accommodate general and project cargo, cars and containers. Additional compacted land of approximately 250,000m2 is available for the temporary pre-shipment or post shipment storage of bulk cargoes.

Car carriers and Ro-Ro vessels equipped with a quarter ramp call regularly and handling them has become a specialty of the port. 80,000m2 of specialized livestock pens with necessary clearance facilities are available within the port area.

Fujairah’s principal claim to fame is its world class bunkering facilities. The regional leader in this regard, ranked along with Singapore and Rotterdam for its safety, efficiency, and highly competitive bunker rates, the emirate’s fuel prices are quoted across the world and have put this port firmly on the map.


Shuwaikh Port, Kuwait

Shuwaikh has seen enormous traffic growth in recent years, with the number of TEUs handled doubling since 2000.

There appears to be no anxiety regarding future business either. Indeed, the Kuwaiti port is planning an investment strategy to accommodate further growth.

Last year saw a throughput of 671,000 TEUs, and this year it is expected to top the 750,000 mark. Receiving an average 45 container vessels a month, July saw 49 ships call, discharging 57,300 TEUs, a volume unsurpassed in recent history.

Plans to specifically increase the handling capabilities of the port are being finalized. Predictions are that Kuwait Port Authority (KPA), working in association with Gulftainer, will double the number of heavy lift post-Panamax cranes to four, add six new RTGs and fund extra capital investment in associated hardware. It is anticipated the capacity will exceed two million TEUs per annum.

Existing infrastructure at the 26-hectare site includes 128 electrical points for the storage of refrigerated foodstuff containers.

Aside from healthy domestic market growth, Shuwaikh is looking beyond the country’s own boundaries to stimulate future developments. ‘‘Kuwait is a natural choice for containerized imports to Iraq, and when reconstruction hits full swing it is expected to fuel even more dramatic growth,’’ says Ted Malone, manager of Gulftainer Kuwait.


Mina Zayed

Mina Zayed, located in the northeast section of Abu Dhabi city, covers an area of 510 hectares and comprises 21 artificial deep-water berths with depths ranging from six to 15 meters. The dredging of the main port channel is being undertaken to allow even largest vessels safe entry to the port.

DP World began managing Mina Zayed earlier this year, and is maintaining its reputation as one of the region’s most important marine terminals.

More than 50 major shipping lines use the port as their Gulf base regularly. Current figures state that over 2000 freight ships berth there each year and more than four million tonnes of cargo is handled annually.

With the invaluable support of the crown prince, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Seaport Authority, the facility continues to upgrade through substantial investment. The comprehensive plan for the development of Mina Zayed and affiliated ports will involve a total cost of US$765 million. Some of the major projects under the ten-year development plan include refurbishing of berths, dredging, and the construction of new workshops. The port’s capacity to hold chilled, cool and frozen products has been significantly increased with the addition of a 15,000 ton cold store.

Ports have traditionally had a reputation as an area where pollution is commonplace. In keeping with international antipollution measures, Mina Zayed boasts a dedicated environment division to ensure constant monitoring of pollution levels, and is an industry leader in ensuring it is a clean marine environment.


Jeddah Islamic Seaport

Saudi Arabia’s principal port, the largest in the Middle East outside of Dubai, reported an 18.5% increase in volumes in 2005, driven largely by a 26.4% increase in exports. The port handles two thirds of the kingdom’s total import traffic. Earlier this year, Saudi Seaports Authority signed an agreement with the Saudi Commercial and Export Development Company (Tusdeer), to develop and operate a third container terminal in JIP. The US$442.5 million project will allow the new terminal to accommodate 1.5 million containers annually, and is to be built on reclaimed land along the re-export zone over an area of 400,000m2.

In addition to container handling capabilities, the King Fahad Ship Repair Yard provides for maintenance and repair of vessels and consists of two floating docks, which can receive vessels up to 45,000 tons. Two additional berths (170 meters long) are capable of receiving vessels up to 60,000 tons.

Ambitious plans to increase the competitiveness of the marine transport network in Saudi Arabia include linking the facility with the Saudi railway project. Also, JIP is set to deploy what will be the largest converged communications solution for any port in the Gulf region. The new system will service more than 11,000 users with the potential of expanding to more than 65,000 users in the future. Predictions anticipate exceeding three million TEU in 2006.