DP World has begun construction on an US$850 million (Dh3.12 billion) terminal at Jebel Ali as the ports operator seeks to increase the size of Dubai's flagship docks.
The new terminal 3 will be completed in 2014 with capacity for 4 million 20ft equivalent container units (TEU), an industry measurement. It will join the expansion of terminal 2, which will add a further 1 million TEU capacity and is 60 per cent constructed. Terminal 2 is scheduled to open in the first half of next year.
"We are building to ensure that Dubai and Jebel Ali Port continue to efficiently meet the needs of the shipping lines and traders serving the wider region of two billion people," said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of DP World.
"Increasingly, the lines are seeking economies of scale with new generation mega-ships, and we stand ready to handle these giants of the sea, reinforcing Dubai's role as the centre of trade in the region."
Total capacity at the port is expected to reach 19 million TEU by 2014, with the expansion creating more than 1,000 jobs directly.
The developments will allow Jebel Ali to handle some of the largest vessels in the world, holding up to 18,000 containers at any one time.
Alongside the new Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, terminal 3 will be one of the most modern marine terminals in the region, with a quay length of 1,860 metres and a 70 hectare storage yard.
Khalifa Port also opened one of the most advanced terminals in the region in September, initially handling 2.5 million containers, with the ability to add a further 2.5 million to capacity at a second terminal at little extra cost. It is expected to eventually reach a capacity of 15 million containers by 2030.
DP World handled 6.6 million containers in the first six months of the year at Jebel Ali, which is some 7.3 per cent ahead of the same period last year.
Globally, the ports operator reported a 7.5 per cent increase in the volume of containers it handled in the first six months, driven by trade growth in the Asia Pacific region and the Indian subcontinent.
It is currently hoping to win a contract to build and operate a $200m facility to expand Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai, India's largest port facility.