These unprecedented times have required industries to adapt and respond quickly in relation to global trade & logistics with delays in cargo due to backlogs at major global ports and terminals. 2021 saw reductions in governmental tariffs and the introduction of incentive schemes for businesses to survive with most companies in mitigation mode. At AD Ports Group we continued to meet and exceed demands, growing each of our five clusters significantly.
By driving technical innovation and through the development of partnerships and collaborations, 2021 was a successful year across several areas of our business. Most notably, this can be demonstrated through scaling supply chain operations, encouraging foreign direct investment and continued expenditure in major infrastructure developments.
During 2021, we achieved double digit growth from new investments, with revenue increases matched by a rise in general cargo volumes and container throughput. This yielded a year-on-year revenue growth rate of 22% in the first three-quarters.
In a drive to enhance liquidity and restructure debt, our successful $1bn bond issuance – with its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange – was more than 4.5 times over-subscribed at its peak. This affirms our brand’s strength in the market and its performance as an underlying asset.
Operational highlights included the signing of a 35-year concession with CMA CGM to build a new terminal in Khalifa Port worth $154m, positioning the port as a hub for 3 of the top 4 global shipping companies; and four strategic agreements and a Head of Terms Agreement with Aqaba Development Corporation that will see AD Ports Group support the development of tourism, logistics, transport, and digital infrastructure within Aqaba.
The strategic partnerships in Aqaba concern the development of a 1.2 million sqm land area – Marsa Zayed – for tourism leisure and residential, a new cruise terminal in the Port of Aqaba that will receive cruise ships passengers visiting the Red Sea, the development of an advanced digital Port Community System (Maqta Ayla), and the development of King Hussein International Airport. In addition, there is also a Head of Terms agreement to explore the development and modernisation of a multipurpose port with world-class facilities including Ro-Ro, general cargo, grain and livestock handling.
2021 also saw us appointed to investigate opportunities to develop and operate new cruise infrastructure in the Kingdom of Bahrain which has seen a sharp increase in annual arrivals – in 2019 it saw a record high of 130,778 passengers. The initial stage of the collaboration with Diyar Al Muharraq and Eagle Hills Diyar Company will identify investment opportunities, and develop new infrastructure and services. AD Ports Group will oversee the new facility’s operation upon its completion.
Another major agreement, furthering the multi-purpose capabilities of Khalifa Port and bolstering our ongoing activities within the region’s food supply chain, was secured with a 50-year land lease agreement with Anchorage Investment for the development of grain storage and processing plants at Khalifa Port to be managed by National Feed. With an initial design capacity of 300,000 metric tonnes, the facility will introduce grain storage and processing capabilities for the production of key food and animal feed ingredients.
Moving towards the government’s vision of making Abu Dhabi a major global healthcare and life sciences hub, we secured Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certification for our handling and storage of pharmaceutical products and vaccines across all temperature ranges. Thanks to these efforts, our logistics arm is now formally recognised for its high standards to maintain the quality and efficacy of pharmaceuticals. As a founding member of the HOPE Consortium – a collective of industry-leading partners set up to overcome challenges to distribute vaccines – we will continue to leverage our healthcare logistics capacities to support the nation’s pivotal role in the global effort against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HOPE Consortium has exceeded its target of distributing 200 million vaccines across 40 countries. One of the largest ever logistics operations, its success illustrates AD Ports Group’s ability to work with its fellow founding partners to respond quickly to vital global need. The HOPE Consortium continues to reduce vaccine waste and speed up global vaccination programmes through in-country immunisation services.
We also signed a preliminary agreement with the General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI), to explore potential opportunities in the logistics and maritime sectors. The agreement hands over the management and operation of the Iraqi Company’s ports, economic zones, and other infrastructure, and puts in place agreements to develop national infrastructure, such as roads and rail networks to connect Al Faw Ports in Iraq with markets in Jordan and Turkey.
While supply chains have continued to face difficulties, we have continued to undergo expansion and investment, including at our only facility on the east coast of the UAE, Fujairah Terminals. Significant investment has resulted in an increase in general cargo throughput to 1.3m tonnes, creation of a multi-purpose area of 25,000sq m for general cargo, and increased container capacity to 720,000 TEU, with a total of 110,000sq m of container terminal area.
Within our maritime cluster, SAFEEN Group – our marine services arm – commenced transhipment operations with Emirates Steel as a part of a 10-year agreement. This is one of the greatest active transhipment agreements (by volume) within the Arabian Gulf region, delivered via the largest bulk commercial vessel ever registered under the UAE flag, along with three self-propelled and self-discharging barges, and a wide range of marine assets such as tugs and speed boats.
Additionally, our feeder service SAFEEN Feeders, has gone from strength-to-strength with the deployment of a further containership to the fleet increasing flexibility and ensuring agile, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions for our customers.
Tasked with creating safe and sustainable waters for our emirate and delivering on its mandate to transform Abu Dhabi into a leading centre for maritime activities, Abu Dhabi Maritime has completed a number of initiatives in 2021. This includes the launch of jet ski licencing services and the first comprehensive maritime safety maps, elevating the level of security and safety of recreational activities on our waterways for the benefit of the community.
As part of our commitment to work more closely with Egypt, we are now working with the commercial arm of the Egyptian Ministry of Transportation to develop and operate a multipurpose terminal in Safaga Port to support the growth of the Middle East’s industrial and logistics sectors, helping to open new markets for Egyptian exports via direct maritime routes across the Arabian Gulf, East Asia, and Africa regions. The strategic location will elevate the country’s ability to compete with other nations that manufacture similar industrial products.
In support of our HSE targets, we were pleased to confirm that Helios Industry plans to launch a AED3.67bn green ammonia projection facility in KIZAD, targeting both regional and international markets. The facility is projected to produce 200,000 tonnes green ammonia from 40,000 tonnes of green hydrogen and will use solar power to electrolyse water and split molecules into Hydrogen and Oxygen and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by an excess of 600,000 tonnes annually, equivalent to the amount of pollution generated by roughly 140,000 vehicles.
In recognition of our efforts, AD Ports Group has continued to rise through the Lloyds List Top 100 Ranking with Khalifa Port reaching its highest ever position of 56 in 2021 while retaining its Lloyd’s List ‘Best Port Operator’ award for a third year in a row. Our Ports Cluster also secured a Logistics Excellence Award.
These agreements and major developments in 2021 progressed our ongoing strategy to take our expertise global, developing port facilities and exploring more opportunities for international logistic growth.
Speaking on behalf of the Group, our Chairman, His Excellency Falah Mohammad Al Ahbabi commented, “AD Ports Group entered 2021 with a clear vision for strategic growth and to take Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s economic prowess to new heights. In line with the leadership’s long-term vision, we have spent the past year forging considered partnerships and realising ground-breaking projects across our organisation and assets that have greatly extended our influence on regional trade and industry. In the new year, the ongoing development of our maritime, industrial, and logistics capabilities will enable us to meet the future demand of a digitally-driven market and non-oil economy.”
Adding further comment, Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Managing Director and Group CEO, AD Ports Group, said: “While last year was one of recovery for many around the world, we are proud of our efforts in evolving the UAE’s trade, logistics and industrial landscape and contributing to the renewed growth of the economy. Throughout the year, we have worked to strengthen and diversify our portfolio while expanding our services in key markets to bolster the growth of commerce across the region and further our mission to reimagine world trade.”
As a Group, we recognise 2021 as a landmark year, not only for the achievements mentioned, but also that they should take place in the nostalgic year of our nation’s 50th anniversary. It is during this period of reflection we can be proud of the achievements made thus far and look forward to the next fifty by remaining able to navigate the ever-changing landscape of our global environment.
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