The UAE's seaports, like its airports, are international and regional hubs and an essential tool for driving economic growth and facilitating economic diversification. Today, according to the World Shipping Council, two of the world's top 50 container ports are in the UAE, with Dubai featuring among the top ten. Overall, 61 per cent of cargo destined for GCC states arrives via UAE seaports.
Mina (Port) Zayed in Abu Dhabi City, which has been the emirate's main general cargo port for 40 years, has been replaced by Khalifa Port, a massive new Dh26.5 billion, 417 square kilometre port and industrial development at Al Taweelah, east of the city.
By 2030, Khalifa Port will have the capacity to handle 15 million TEUs and 35 million tonnes of general cargo. By that stage, it is estimated that Khalifa Port and the surrounding industrial zone, Kizad, will contribute 15 oer cent of the capital's non-oil GDP
Meanwhile, Mina Zayed has taken on a new role as a dedicated port for the growing leisure and cruise ship market. This includes visits by the world's largest ocean liner and the luxury flagship of the Cunard Line, the Dh3.2 billion, 345 metre, 150,000 tonne Queen Mary 2.
Dubai Ports at Port Rashid in Dubai City and Jebel Ali south of the city play a pivotal role in trade in the UAE. Both are operated by DP World, the largest marine terminal and port operator in the Middle East. DP World also operates Port Hamriya and Fujairah Container Terminal and is a major international player, operating 60 terminals across six continents.
Jebel Ali Port, which is complemented by Jebel Ali Free Zone, services more than 170 shipping lines and more than 90 plus weekly services connecting the port to over 100 ports worldwide. Capacity at Jebel Ali Port has recently been expanded from 14 million TEUs to 19 million TEUs. Jebel Ali Port also has the ability to handle ten of the massive next generation 18,000 TEU vessels at the same time.
The Emirate of Sharjah is the only emirate with a port on both UAE coasts. Its east coast port, Khor Fakkan Container Terminal, the only natural deepwater port in the region, has a strategic geographical position in the context of today's huge deepsea container trade, being close to the main east-west shipping lanes and outside the sensitive Strait of Hormuz. The port is operated by Gulftainer, which also runs Sharjah Container Terminal on behalf of the Sharjah Port Authority.
Fujairah Port, a multi-purpose port which is also strategically located outside the Strait of Hormuz, has seen a boom at its onshore bunkering facilities in recent years, storage capacity having increased by 2 million cubic metres (mcm) in 2013 to just over 6 mcm.