Dynamise the gateways
Saudi Arabia’s ports are successfully gearing up to face the future. Private initiatives are now being accorded more operational freedom, to help ensure that the strategy is effective. The largest terminal in the country’s biggest port is set to grow further.
Mawani, the Saudi ports authority that supervises the nine ports in the kingdom, wants to provide its customers with better services this year. To this end it recently launched an integrated shipment-scheduling system at King Abdul Aziz port in Dammam; the system is part of an electronic clearance solution that will speed up processes in the Gulf region’s second maritime gateway. Clients can now schedule appointments electronically, which the authorities has said saves time and can keep the process in the port down to 17 minutes.
More maintenance work in the port
Other Mawani projects include a cooperation agreement for shipbuilding and repair activities at King Abdul Aziz port. The ministry of transport, Al Blagha Group subsidiary Al Blagha Industrial, and International Maritime Industries, a joint venture between a number of leading Gulf region maritime companies, are the partners in this agreement, which aims to provide specialised maritime services in the port in Dammam and attract more vessels and offshore rigs to the hub.
These initiatives are based on the kingdom’s ‘Vision 2030’, which will transform the Saudi Arabian economy and improve its ability to compete. Thus the ports authority has issued its first unified foreign investor permit for a Saudi port, to carry out the business operations of maritime agencies. Mawani’s board of directors adopted new regulations concerning licencing matters, and underlined that this will open the door to entrepreneurial opportunities for foreign firms in every Saudi port.
National efforts to lead Saudi Arabia’s ports into a brighter future are not restricted to the country’s Gulf coast, however. The country’s most important maritime gateway is Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) on the Red Sea, after all.
Ready to handle leviathans
Pride of place in JIP goes to the Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT); the facility can handle ships carrying a total of 14,000 teu. The terminal was also the first in Saudi Arabia to be realised by a private enterprise, with Saudi Industrial Services owning 60.6% of RSGT. Now the hub with an annual capacity of more than 2.5 million teu is set to be modernised, with RSGT and Mawani recently signing a declaration of intent to this end.
The partners’ plans envisage renewing the terminal facilities and enhancing and extending its berths. Demand for the augmented options is undeniable; the parties have not yet set a detailed time-frame for the project, however. The overall volume of goods handled at the RSGT rose by 16% last year, in comparison with the previous twelve months.