Interview: Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi
How are automation and digitisation improving overall maritime logistics operations in Abu Dhabi?
MOHAMED JUMA AL SHAMISI: Automation and digitisation have had a huge impact on the maritime sector in recent years. Blockchain technology has helped make transactions more secure and reliable, while automation and artificial intelligence are being used to streamline operations. Maqta Gateway, a digital trade subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, plays a central role in our technological partnerships and investments. In November 2019 it launched Margo, a digital marketplace for cargo clearance and delivery solutions that allows consumers anywhere in the UAE to import personal items from around the world via Khalifa Port or Abu Dhabi International Airport to their homes.
What is Abu Dhabi Ports’ strategy to expand in an increasingly competitive environment?
AL SHAMISI: We are focusing our global strategy on creating partnerships with the world’s largest port operators, expanding capacity, and investing in infrastructure and maritime technology in order to meet the growing and diverse needs of our customers. Our long-term concession agreements with partners such as COSCO SHIPPING Ports (CSP), MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Abu Dhabi Terminals, Autoterminal Barcelona and Port of Fujairah – where we are investing more than Dh1bn ($272.2m) to renovate the port – are cornerstones of our strategy. The CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal, operated by CSP, is now fully operational and has a capacity of 2.5m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The terminal acts as a regional hub for our Chinese partners, allowing them to transport goods from Asia to Africa and Europe. In return, Abu Dhabi benefits from links to ports across China, South-east Asia, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
In 2019 the amount of general cargo handled across all our ports reached 22.4m tonnes, compared to the 19.7m tonnes handled the previous year. Over the same period, Khalifa Port handled 2.8m TEUs of containers, compared to 1.7m TEUs in 2018.
In December 2019 Khalifa Port received a Dh4bn ($1.1bn) investment for the development of the South Quay and Khalifa Port Logistics, as well as for the expansion of Abu Dhabi Terminals. Once completed, the port is expected to see its container handling capacity grow from 5m TEUs to 7.5m TEUs, setting it on a path to achieving the target of 9m TEUs by 2025.
In what ways will planned investment under China’s Belt and Road Initiative help position Abu Dhabi as an international maritime logistics hub?
AL SHAMISI: The Dh2.3bn ($626.1m) Roadbot tyre factory in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) represents two important trends shaping regional trade and logistics, and attracting investment to Abu Dhabi. The first is the rise in Chinese companies entering the UAE in order to expand their reach across the MENA region and further to Africa and Europe. Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC) has attracted the interest of around 20 Chinese firms and has helped Abu Dhabi Ports to secure other agreements, making it easier for Chinese firms to establish themselves in the emirate. Abu Dhabi Ports and JOCIC signed a fiveyear agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to make it quicker and easier for Chinese companies to do business from KIZAD. KIZAD and Khalifa Port have collectively attracted over $1bn in investment from China and this is likely to increase in the longer term following the development of the 12.2-sq-km second phase of our Chinese cluster.
The second notable trend is the rise in local manufacturing within economic centres such as KIZAD. The Roadbot factory is set to have an initial annual output of 1m truck and bus radial tyres, and 3m passenger car radial tyres, with the latter rising to 10m by 2022 – making it one of the world’s largest tyre producers.
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