December is always a significant month for the UAE and particularly in 2021 as we joined in celebrating our nation’s 50th anniversary, and with it the opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary achievements and progress made. December is also a significant month for AD Ports Group as it was on the 12th December 2012 that His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, inaugurated Khalifa Port –the first, deep water, semi-automated container port in the GCC.
Equipped with an eight-kilometre-long breakwater – another record for the region – Khalifa Port was designed to cause minimum disruption to local marine life, while providing significant capacity for general cargo, container, RoRo, bulk, break-bulk and soon liquid and gas storage as well as grain storage and processing. In the same way that National Day highlighted our nation’s ability to keep pace with the high expectations of our national leadership, we reflect on Khalifa Port’s journey and how it has become the fastest growing port in the world.
Equipped with state-of-the-art maritime infrastructure – including 33 of the world’s largest ship-to-shore quay cranes – it was clear that Khalifa Port’s success would rely on more than just hardware and technology, but an ability to predict the future demands of customers, while seeking reliable strategic and operational partners.
Building on the success of Abu Dhabi Terminals, we signed a 35-year concession in 2016 with COSCO SHIPPING Ports (CSP) to operate CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal, the first overseas green field subsidiary of CSP with an annual capacity of 2.5 million TEUs, equipped with the largest container freight station in the Middle East. Since its official inauguration on 10th December 2018, CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal has significantly contributed towards the UAE’s macroeconomic, 50-year strategy to drive growth and attract investments, while simultaneously serving as a strategic maritime hub for China’s Belt and Road initiative.
In 2018, our partnership with Autoterminal Barcelona led to the launch of our joint venture, Autoterminal Khalifa Port, an advanced RoRo terminal, which equipped with its technical centre, has become the preferred destination for automotive distribution to and from the Gulf. In the same year, our 30-year concession agreement with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, included the upgrade of operational equipment to double our ship-to-shore cranes, while simultaneously doubling our capacity.
Two years later, we signed an agreement with Arabian Chemical Terminals Abu Dhabi, that will see Khalifa Port become the emirate’s first greenfield commercial bulk liquid and gas storage terminal. Once complete, it will handle bulk products including vegetable oils, oleochemicals, bitumen, liquid gases, petrochemical downstream products, hydrocarbons, fuel as well as non-liquid gases, speciality, and niche chemicals.
2021 was no different in terms of milestones with our highlight being a 35-year concession with CMA CGM, whose operations through a dedicated container terminal are set to open in 2024 with an initial capacity of 1.8 million TEU.
While operational, but not fully complete, the delivery of South Quay will provide additional capacity for both bulk and general cargo handling, further demonstrating our commitment to listening to the requirements of our individual customers, which in combination with Khalifa Port Logistics means even greater bandwidth to manage a wider variety of goods.
The beginning of 2021 also heralded our 50-year land lease agreement with Anchorage Investment, for the development of grain storage and processing plants, under the experienced management of National Feed, thereby bolstering national food security and trade.
Aside from Khalifa Port’s direct investments and developments, it is also strategically located at the heart of an ever-expanding neighbourhood of Free Zones, each of which stand to benefit from its facilities. In addition, it will also become the first commercial stop in the UAE on the Etihad Rail line, a major catalyst for increasing the onward movement of cargo.
As a port that showed exemplary resilience during the pandemic, it is essential to mention the pride we have for all those whose tireless efforts have made Khalifa Port what it is today – a regional hub for three of the world’s four largest shipping companies, the world’s fastest growing port (according to Lloyd’s), and ‘Port of the Year’ at The Maritime Standards Awards for a fifth consecutive time.
In the meantime, we look forward to meeting the challenges that will lead us to our 10th anniversary in 2022, while continuing to aspire to the legacy set forth by our leadership and a nation that has demonstrated its ability to embrace the future.
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