Hamad Port to redefine region’s shipping industry
05 Sep 2017 - 23:14
By Satish Kanady / The Peninsula
Winds of change are blowing in the corridors of the region’s shipping industry. The opening of $7.4bn ultramodern Hamad Port will chart a fresh course on the region’s coastal cargo transportation industry, experts told The Peninsula.
Industry leaders who spoke to this newspaper said the new port has all the potential to emerge as one of the leading international transshipment hubs.
With the full-fledged operations of Qatar’s free economic zones, Hamad Port can attract the businesses of UAE ports, particularly Dubai’s flagship port Jebel Ali, they said.
“The opening of Hamad Port has certainly transformed the dynamics of regional shipping industry. International market is watching ultramodern Hamad Port with great expectations”, a senior official at Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), told The Peninsula.
“Historically , containers to and fro Qatar was routed via Jebel Ali. Now, Hamad port has all the facilities to receive even the largest container ships in the world and the state of the art facility has all the possibilities and potential to become a transshipment hub for the region. The timing of the port opening is very important. An estimated 700- 900 trucks were crossing the Abu Samra border on daily basis until June 4 . Now these volumes are containerised and Hamad port is facilitating the movements”, the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not officially authorised to speak on behalf of his company.
MSC, the world leader in global shipping industry, was the first company to operate the maiden liner service to Hamad Port during the port’s soft opening in December 2016. MSC has a mother vessel serving Hamad Port on a weekly basis from China ( New Falcon Service ) and own feeders operating in Salalah and Kuwait.
Typically, cargo for Qatar stops at Dubai’s massive deep-water Jebel Ali port or in Abu Dhabi, then gets put on smaller boats heading to Doha. In a sense, the country has been largely depending on UAE ports. Qatar no more needs the support of UAE ports.
It can now reach out to international markets on its own. Going forward, Qatar Port is will be in a position to even attracting businesses from Dubai Port, said another Industry expert, whose company has strong business interests with Dubai port.
According to Nader Kabbani, Director of Research-Brookings Doha Center (Senior Fellow-Global Economy and Development), Qatar imports roughly 40 percent of its food overland through Saudi Arabia, and most of the rest via shipping routes that pass through UAE ports of Dubai and Fujairah to refuel.
The region has been showing little sign of any dramatic ramp-up of port capacity for long. The opening of mega facility in Qatar is expected to attract higher container volumes. With huge logistic facilities under construction and the opening of Qatar’s economic zones, Qatar will eventually emerge as an international transshipment hub posing serious threat to Dubai port, said another industry expert.