Dubai is looking to an October opening for a big new drydocks at Dubai Maritime City (DMC), significantly expanding the emirate's ship repair capabilities. The move will mark a further step in Dubai's plan to become a regional centre for repairing and building ships, which began in 1978 when it set up its Jadaf Dubai shipyard to repair wooden dhows travelling between the emirate and Iran, Pakistan and India.
Dubai has since expanded into complex repairs of steel ships and building ships and offshore structures for the oil and gas industry at the Jadaf site and a drydocks yard next to Port Rashid, both owned by the Dubai World unit Drydocks World. The opening of DMC's Industrial Precinct, as the 1.1 square km repair yard is called, will feature 42 dryberths and 100 workshops and warehouses, and more powerful ship lifts that can carry vessels of up to 6,000 tonnes.
Hamad al Maghrabi, the managing director of Jadaf Dubai and director of ship-lift operations for Drydocks World, said the Jadaf facilities had struggled to keep pace with growing demand, particularly as Dubai's population growth meant more bridges needed to be built over the creek, limiting the movement of ships. "This will be an 'open sea' development with no bridges and much higher capacity for dryberths and workshops," Mr al Maghrabi said.
Jadaf Dubai, which will manage the new facilities at the DMC Industrial Precinct, is working with local utility companies to connect the man-made island with power and water before the October opening, he said. The Industrial Precinct will also be the first area of a sprawling maritime project built on 2.3 sq km of reclaimed island jutting out from the Dubai coast. A new home for the emirate's ship repair businesses was first envisioned in 2001 and plans were later drawn up for Dubai Maritime City.
According to the project's website the entire development, which includes the shipyard and space for marinas, offices, residences and an academic institution, had originally been expected to open in 2008. The project's estimated completion date is now 2012. Seventeen workshops have already been occupied by tenants and Jadaf Dubai is planning additional incentives to encourage more companies to set up shop there. The emirate has continued to invest in equipment and infrastructure even as other regional governments have created their own ship repair facilities.
Its shipyard in 1978 featured one ship lift capable of hoisting a 240-tonne vessel up to 40 metres long. "From that time, step by step, Jadaf moved forward," Mr al Maghrabi said. Four years later it added a larger ship lift for vessels of up to 2,400 tonnes and 100 metres long, allowing it to service the region's fleet of tugboats, dredgers and barges. "In 1982, nobody was thinking of drydocks in the region," Mr al Maghrabi said. "Now it is one of the great assets of Dubai." Jadaf Dubai accommodates 150 companies and 7,000 workers, including large European players such as Damen Shipyards, which formed a partnership with Albwardy Marine Engineering, and Ulstein Group of Norway.
Other GCC states have invested in their own facilities. Oman is developing a major drydocks at Duqm, while Qatar is building facilities to service its fleet of gas tankers, Mr al Maghrabi said. In the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi Mar is building luxury yachts, while Abu Dhabi Ship Building specialises in military vessels. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org