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The Khalifah Port and Industrial Zone is designed to replace Mina Zayed as the main port to Abu Dhabi.
The Khalifah Port and  Industrial Zone is designed to replace Mina Zayed as the main port to Abu Dhabi.

Major contract awarded for port complex

Abu Dhabi Ports Company awards a Dh1.4 billion contract to Al Habtoor Leighton to build a complex of facilities.

The Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) has awarded a Dh1.4 billion (US$381.4m) contract to Al Habtoor Leighton, a joint venture between UAE and Australian firms, to build a complex at the new port under construction in Taweelah. Designed to replace Mina Zayed as the main port into Abu Dhabi, the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone (KPIZ) is being built on a reclaimed island 5km offshore. It is linked by a causeway to a free zone on the mainland which will house an industrial complex including aluminium smelters, a chemicals plant and a pharmaceuticals factory. "This package is the first of the major port construction packages and involves the development of more than 4.5 square kilometres of the KPIZ site to construct the entire port gate complex," ADPC said in a statement Tuesday. The contract includes more than 700,000 sq metres of paving as well as the construction of 47 buildings covering more than 70,000 sq metres of built up area. The work is expected to begin immediately and should be completed in the third quarter of 2011, with the port and industrial zone's commercial launch scheduled for 2012. The contract shows the commitment by the Government's entities to complete strategic investments to diversify the emirate's economy, even though the UAE has been affected by the global downturn. Tuesday's announcement is part of 17 major construction contracts the ADPC plans to award this year, worth more than Dh10bn. It is also the largest contract this year for Al Habtoor Leighton, which was part of a consortium that pulled out of a Dh4.9bn deal to build a third concourse at Dubai International Airport in April. The group also stopped work in December on a Dh2.9bn deal to build the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in partnership with Murray and Roberts of South Africa, after the developer Nakheel decided to suspend the project. In contrast to property developments, Khalifa Port is seen as a critical infrastructure project for Abu Dhabi's industrial plans. KPIZ will take seaborne container and bulk shipments as Mina Zayed is wound down on Abu Dhabi island and replaced by urban developments. It will become a true deepwater port, in contrast to the berths in the Musaffah industrial area, which are not deep enough for large ocean tankers and have forced tenants to transfer supplies from large ships to smaller vessels before coming to shore. One of the first tenants of the port and free zone in Taweelah will be EMAL, which is building one of the world's largest aluminium smelters there. Other industries being targeted are plastics and chemicals, including a plan to produce about 7 million tonnes a year of olefins, aromatics, and oxide and ammonia derivatives. Khalifa Port will help the UAE become a key player in the global steel market, according to Raffi Vartanian, a shipping analyst at Freight Investor Solutions in Dubai. igale@thenational.ae

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