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GCC ports set fair amid stormy seas elsewhere

Arabian Gulf ports are outperforming their rivals in Europe and Asia and positioning themselves to take advantage of a global recovery.

Arabian Gulf ports are outperforming their rivals in Europe and Asia and positioning themselves to take advantage of a global recovery, the sixth biannual Seatrade Middle East Maritime conference in Dubai heard yesterday.

"Up and down the Gulf, port developers are creating a new generation of terminal facilities that will be the envy of competitors," stated a paper presented to delegates by the conference organisers, Seatrade.

"Despite the global downturn, there appears little appetite among GCC port players to rein in the scale of projects under construction, with total budgets of over $42 billion [Dh154.27bn]."

Data from the shipping consultantDrewry Maritime Research showed that last year port capacity utilisation in the GCC was 71 per cent, with the UAE at 82 per cent.

Drewry ranked DP World as "the third-largest terminal operator on Earth", with a throughput of 55 million 20-foot equivalent unit containers at its 60 facilities around the world.

Chris Hayman, Seatrade's chairman, said the flow of world trade was swinging in the region's favour. "In the two years since our last event, the world maritime industry has had to weather the storm of the continuing impact of the global downturn, compounded with operational challenges including piracy, overcapacity in many market segments, high operating costs and a tightening regulatory environment.

"These are challenging times for the global maritime industry. The impact of the financial crisis and recession in the western economies has brought difficult conditions in many market sectors, and an uncomfortable imbalance between supply and demand which some predict will last for two years or more. This combines with an operating environment of high costs and a complex regulation.

"But this region is rebounding strongly," said Mr Hayman.


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