x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Industrial future finds port of call as new gateway opens up

The culmination of a six-year project that will handle 2.5 million containers a year, the first phase of Khalifa Port has now been officially opened.

Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, completed the formal inauguration of Khalifa Port, ushering in a new industrial future for Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE. Omran Shahed / Al Ittihad
Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, completed the formal inauguration of Khalifa Port, ushering in a new industrial future for Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE. Omran Shahed / Al Ittihad

Yesterday at precisely 12 noon, on the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012, Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, completed the formal inauguration of Khalifa Port, ushering in a new industrial future for Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE.

Built on 2.7 square kilometres of reclaimed land 5km off the coast near Taweelah, halfway between Abu Dhabi city and Dubai, this new Dh26.2 billion (US$7.13bn) cornerstone of Abu Dhabi's economic future is already in operation, having opened for business in September, unloading containers from the 153,000-tonne MSC Bari.

What was presented to Sheikh Khalifa yesterday was the culmination of a six-year project to deliver Phase 1 of the new port, capable of handling 2.5 million containers a year, and 12 million tonnes of general cargo.

That capacity is expected to grow by 2030 to 15 million containers and 35 million tonnes of general cargo.

Martijn van de Linde, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Terminals, which operates the port, has 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 during the next two decades.

Kizad A, which is under construction, occupies 51 sq km, and Kizad B is planned to cover 365 sq km. When the vast industrial zone is complete it will cover an area two thirds the size of the island of Singapore.

Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), the developer and operator of Kizad, began pre-leasing of the industrial area in May and has signed tenants on 2 sq km of land and is in negotiations on eight more. More than 40 industry heavyweights are involved.

In total, ADPC is looking to lease about 22 sq km of land to manufacturing and industrial companies in the first phase, as the project works towards fulfilling its role in the master plan for the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 - to contribute 15 per cent, equivalent to $40bn - to the non-oil sector of the Abu Dhabi economy.

Kizad is expected, directly and indirectly, to create more than 150,000 jobs and ADPC anticipates between 60 and 80 per cent of the goods manufactured within Kizad will be exported around the globe.

Emirates Aluminium is currently ADPC's anchor tenant at Kizad, and so far, companies such as Al Braik Investments, a silicon metal smelting company, Talah Board, a company that produces construction boards and Al Batha Trading & Industry Group, a logistics company, have all agreed to set up in the new zone.

Mulk Holdings, a manufacturing conglomerate based in Sharjah, also plans to set up a facility with two other joint venture partners to make aluminium components.

Car makers and/or car parts manufacturers are being courted to sign up for Kizad in the near future, along with industries such as aluminium, engineered metal products, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, logistics and food.

In return for locating in Kizad, the industrial hub will offer lower operating costs for international companies, cheaper energy and labour, and a tax-free environment. The project will also take advantage of Abu Dhabi's location between the major exporting nations of the Asia-Pacific region and western Europe and the United States.

"This project is an enabler of the 2030 vision," said Tony Douglas, the chief executive of ADPC. "In 2010, the GDP of Abu Dhabi was about $110 billion. In terms of the 2030 vision, the target is to have a GDP of about $417bn."

dblack@thenational.ae