x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

A car a minute speeds into Jebel Ali Port

More than half a million vehicles were handled at Jebel Ali Port so far this year, a record for the facility.

More than half a million vehicles were imported, exported or re-exported at Jebel Ali Port in the first 49 weeks of this year. Pawan Singh / The National
More than half a million vehicles were imported, exported or re-exported at Jebel Ali Port in the first 49 weeks of this year. Pawan Singh / The National

A car or lorry was shipped through Jebel Ali every minute of every day so far this year, a record for the Dubai port.

More than half a million vehicles were imported, exported or re-exported at Jebel Ali Port in the first 49 weeks of the year. The figures underscore the growing demand for cargo capacity in the UAE and, officially inaugurated last week, Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi provides a further boost to the country's emerging status as a trade corridor. "The record number of vehicles that have passed through the port's facility for roll-on roll-off vehicle carriers reinforces the growth message for the UAE and the wider region that we are hearing from economic commentators such as the IMF," said Mohammed Al Muallem, the senior vice president and managing director at DP World, which manages the port.

The previous record was 2008 when the number of vehicles handled through the port for the full year reached 479,000.

The data ties into other evidence of a pickup in car sales this year. Mainstream car brands such as Toyota, General Motors, Kia and Nissan have all reported growing sales in the country on the back of a glut of new financing options from banks in recent months.

Global car sales this year are expected to reach above 80 million cars and lorries for the first time, according to data from LMC Automotive. Jebel Ali also acts as a throughput for shipments across the region and beyond.

In the first nine months of the year, DP World handled 10 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), 4.6 per cent ahead of the same period of last year.

The port is expanding with a brand new container terminal three and the expansion of terminal two, which will take total port capacity from 14 million to 19 million TEUs by 2014.

Existing general cargo facilities at Jebel Ali include 30 berths and a total storage area of more than 1.3 million sq metres of open storage and 100,000 sq metres of covered space.

The UAE's trade services are now further complemented by Khalifa Port, 45 kilometres from Jebel Ali.

Equipped with some of the word's largest sea-to-shore cranes, Khalifa Port will be able to handle 2.5 million TEUs a year, a figure that is expected to rise to 15 million by 2030.

But while Jebel Ali has established itself as a transhipment point, Khalifa Port will serve as a gateway to the Abu Dhabi market.

The port is just one element for Kizad, the overall vision of which is to create a 417 sq kilometre industrial and manufacturing hub that equates to two-thirds the size of the island of Singapore.

tarnold@thenational.ae