ABU DHABI // A new Dh26.2 billion cornerstone of Abu Dhabi's economic future opened for business yesterday, on time and on budget.
Khalifa Port began unloading containers from the 153,000-tonne vessel MSC Bari at 7am, the culmination of a six-year project to deliver the first computer-controlled, semi-automated port in the region.
Phase 1 of the new port can handle 2.5 million containers a year, and 12 million tons of general cargo.
That capacity is expected to grow by 2030 to 15 million containers and 35 million tons of general cargo.
The new port is built on 2.7 square kilometres of reclaimed land five kilometres off the coast near Taweelah, half way between Abu Dhabi city and Dubai.
Martijn Van de Linde, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Terminals, which operates the port, described the venture as "an immensely powerful engine that will be at the heart of Abu Dhabi's economic growth and diversification for many years into the future".
It will be the main gateway for the adjacent Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), a key project aimed at creating 150,000 jobs and contributing up to 15 per cent of non-oil GDP to the Abu Dhabi economy over the next two decades.
Kizad A, which is under construction, occupies 51 square kilometres, and Kizad B is planned to cover 365 square kilometres.
When the vast industrial zone is complete it will cover an area two-thirds the size of the island of Singapore.