Sea Freight

General maritime cargo demand is currently centered on two ports within the UAE, Jebel Ali in Dubai, which is the UAE’s current primary port location and Mina Zayed in Abu Dhabi. However, the Abu Dhabi Government has made a major investment in the development of Khalifa port and the surrounding industrial area. The container facilities at Khalifa Port are due to become operational in 2012 when the majority of Mina Zayed container services are due to relocate. Khalifa port, with its state of the art systems and proximity to the emerging Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), is likely to play a major role in the economic future of Abu Dhabi.

Mina Zayed will continue to support cargo services for the foreseeable future and is likely to retain the ability to service container vessels. Industry consultation concludes that it is unlikely that feeder container services from Khalifa to Mina Zayed will be commercially viable due to the relatively modest distance saved to serve the key freight destinations in the Mussafah area.

Mussafah Port does not currently handle containers but has expanded its bulk cargo operations. The Mussafah and future Industrial City Abu Dhabi (ICAD) developments will have substantial demand compatible with container traffic. Feeder services between Khalifa or Jebel Ali and Mussafah might have commercial viability. However certain barriers would have to be overcome, mainly the extended approach along the Mussafah channel, the need for pilotage to navigate the recently deepened Mussafah channel and the lack of adequate space in the port to facilitate container operations.

Although there is a relatively low demonstrable demand for non-oil cargo to the ports of Al Gharbia, the continued availability of cargo port access along the coast of Abu Dhabi is a priority. There are concerns surrounding the continued efficient cargo operation of a number of ports in the region, with the number of operational cargo ports being reduced to only 7 in the recent past. There is also a future threat to some remaining ports.

Maintaining and planning for adequate and efficient port capacity for cargo services, both for international and coastal shipping services now and into the future, will support an integrated multi-modal transport system. Investment in port infrastructure has been bold, as evidenced in the development of Port Khalifa and the channel deepening recently completed to improve access to Mussafah Port. However the return on such investments will be maximized by an integrated and efficient feeder service network.