x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Trading engine that will power the Gulf

The inauguration of Khalifa Port is a major milestone in the economic development not only of Abu Dhabi, which conceived the project and financed its development, but of the whole UAE.

The inauguration of Khalifa Port is a major milestone in the economic development not only of Abu Dhabi, which conceived the project and financed its development, but of the whole UAE.

The new facility is fully in line with the diversification strategy outlined in the capital's 2030 strategy plan. It will be a major step away from the hydrocarbon extraction business towards manufacturing industry, and a further stage in the economic modernisation of the emirate.

It will encourage commerce into Abu Dhabi with new ultra-efficient quayside facilities, while freeing up valuable capacity closer to the city for leisure and tourism. As urban planning, it makes perfect sense.

But Khalifa Port should not be regarded simply as a project for the capital.

When the full master plan is realised with the completion of the adjoining industrial zone (Kizad), it will represent a shift in economic and industrial gravity towards the region between Dubai and the capital, drawing the two centres closer together.

They are already being pulled that way anyway, with the growth of Jebel Ali port and the new Dubai World Central airport.

Link in the final phase of the Etihad Rail project, and the UAE will have industrial and economic critical mass to rival any of the big trading conurbations in the world, such as Shanghai, Rotterdam and New York.

Far from competing with Jebel Ali, just 40 kilometres away, the new facility will complement the existing set-up, adding sophisticated commercial and manufacturing opportunities to the bulk and re-export goods that currently go through Jebel Ali.

In the combined mega-development the UAE will have the biggest and most modern industrial and trading hub in the Middle East, a trading engine to drive the capital-rich Arabian Gulf.

To those who suggest that the UAE is overdoing it with grand projects and ambitions, you must ask: is it ever possible to have too much state-of-the-art infrastructure?

fkane@thenational.ae