Interview: Colin Crookshank
What new projects are being undertaken to further boost intra-regional and international trade?
COLIN CROOKSHANK: We are continuing with our consolidation project to reorganise the five ports under the one umbrella of RAK Ports. Now the ports are complementing each other rather than competing, and this has increased efficiency among ports. We are also in the process of developing management systems and seeking international accreditation in areas like finance, security (via the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code), quality management (via the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 9001:2008) the environment (ISO:14001), health and safety, emergency and contingency planning, and marine operational safety. We are working closely with the RAK Tourism Development Authority with regard to attracting cruise tourism.
We have handled a number of smaller cruise vessels in the past two years. One project being looked at is establishing an international cruise terminal to accommodate larger vessels. In regards to trading, Saqr Port is the largest bulk commodity handling port in the Middle East and from 2010 to 2011 our cargo throughput increased from 26m tonnes to 35m tonnes. This increase is primarily due to further developments in the construction industry in the GCC , the growth in steel production in India and the rising coal imports to fuel the cement factories in RAK. A number of major industrial companies are based in RAK and we assist them by importing their raw materials. Essentially, if they are growing, we are growing. We are conscious of the ports’ role as an economic driver in RAK.
What is the current strategy when it comes to attracting investors to operate within RAK’s ports and especially within RAK Maritime City?
CROOKSHANK: To attract foreign investors RAK and RAK Ports offer a strategic location; an ease of access to key trading/international markets; flexible lease structures; a secure, cost efficient and stable environment; easily accessible labour markets; skilled labour at economical rates; and an open door investment policy. We are promoting RAK and RAK Ports to potential partners and investors as part of a worldwide roadshow and at conferences and exhibitions both locally and internationally. At RAK Ports the strategy is to encourage major marine-related companies to be involved in RAK for the long term, by establishing sound foundations for them. Most large companies/anchor clients have signed leases for an average of at least 50 years, which shows their commitment.
What type of value-added proposition do you believe the ports are able to provide?
CROOKSHANK: RAK Ports have established a reputation for operational efficiency/productivity, quality customer service and the fast turnaround of vessels. The development of the ports is not a static project, and the key part of our ambition is to develop improved services and infrastructure over the coming years, while operating to international standards and best practice. Full government support is offered with all projects being backed by strong sovereign commitment in assisting investors across the entire project life cycle.
How do ports contribute to efforts to implement an integrated multimodal transport network?
CROOKSHANK: In RAK each port has a specific function, but together they work as one body. The ports play an integrated role in RAK’s transport network and the growth in the maritime industry is assisting RAK’s economic development. The federal government is funding the construction of a new truck road and the Etihad railway, which will connect RAK Ports to other emirates and the GCC. RAK Airways will add valuable routes to key business and labour markets. With the emirate’s ambitious infrastructural development plans an integrated multimodal transport network, connecting land, air and maritime freight will encourage RAK’s economic progression for many years to come.
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