Apart from being a central part of its cultural heritage, Abu Dhabi has relied on trade to support its people for ages.
Transporting goods produced to market and trading for other goods in return made this region a trading crossroads as the economy has developed, so the volume and complexity of goods movements has increased. Abu Dhabi is growing quickly to accommodate a diverse population and to meet the targets it has set itself for the year 2030. It seeks to become an international destination and a competitive world economic hub. Therefore, careful freight planning and governance is essential in realizing this vision and delivering Abu Dhabi’s future plans.
The Emirate has moved from a time when camels were the principal means for carrying goods in the region to the present day when trucks dominate freight surface transport movements with sea and air transport also playing important roles. The Government is substantially increasing the capacity of international sea transport, and is building the first phase of what will eventually be a GCC wide railway system that will serve future freight needs. Efficient transfer between transport modes will become increasingly important as the multi-modal transport system is developed.
Road transport in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi performs well in many respects, but there are considerable deficiencies that have resulted in a truck safety record that falls well below international standards.  Varying standards of operations and unequal competition between operators occur when some Transport companies operate at unacceptably low standards and undercut those who take more responsibility. In some cases disproportionate and onerous regulation has encouraged businesses not to register their truck operations within the Emirate. Clear and consistent governance of goods vehicles will make Abu Dhabi’s road freight operations safer and more efficient.  
Good governance can encourage and require substantial improvements in the transport fleet and operating standards, whilst reducing the cost that the freight industry imposes on society. This specific responsibility for freight is covered by the wider Department of Transport and Government policy framework. The three most influential sources of guidance in this respect are:
  • Abu Dhabi Policy Agenda 2007/08 that advocates a large, empowered private sector and an optimal, transparent regulatory environment
  • Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 that foresees building an open, efficient, effective and globally integrated business environment
  • Department for Transport Surface Transport Master Plan (STMP), which has specific objectives for the impact of transport on the economy, quality of life and the environment 
Abu Dhabi Freight Master Plan goals
Government Goals
DoT Goals
Objectives for the Freight Transport Sector
A sound economy
Transport that is efficient and effective to support economic competitiveness and vitality
  • International, national and local connectivity of freight transport infrastructure and services
  • An integrated, reliable and resilient freight transport system
  • Limited impact of traffic congestion on freight transport
  • A freight industry that takes account of the costs and other impacts that result from their
  • An empowered and competitive private sector
A high quality of life
Transport that is safe and secure, and which meets social needs and sustains Abu Dhabi’s culture
  • A safer and secure freight transport system
  • Reinforce Abu Dhabi’s heritage and identity, including protection of landmarks and
  • Freight services for all, including those in distant communities
A protected environment
Transport that has a reduced impact on the environment
  • Preserve Abu Dhabi’s natural environment
  • Freight transport that enhances the local environment
  • Freight transport that has less impact on the global environment
For all of these reasons, The Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the public and private sector, has much to gain from the delivery of a carefully crafted and determinedly delivered Freight Master Plan.