JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia moved one step closer to its goal of becoming a global logistics hub with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s launch of the King Abdullah Port in Rabigh on Monday.
The port, part of King Abdullah Economic City, will make the Kingdom “a linking point of three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa,” the crown prince said at the launch.
King Abdullah Port, the fastest-growing container port in the world, is considered a major success story in the Kingdom’s efforts to develop public-private sector partnerships.
The port’s aim of positioning Saudi Arabia as a global logistics hub is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic reforms.
“When we talk about King Abdullah Port, we are talking about Vision 2030,” Rayan Mustafa Qutub, the port’s CEO, told Arab News.
As part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in the construction of ports, railways, roads and airports. The government plans to work with private- sector investors and enter into a new series of international partnerships to link the infrastructure developments internally and across borders.
“One of the biggest sources of the economy in the Kingdom’s vision is logistics, which is forecast to become 33 percent of the Kingdom’s economy by 2030,” Qutub said.
The port will act as a link between Gulf countries through improved logistics services and new cross-border infrastructure projects.
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Qutub said King Abdullah Port would establish the Kingdom as a platform for the region.
“The countries of East Africa are the new China, the next huge neighboring economy, and we can now exchange exports and imports, and offer logistic services to them and the world as a whole,” he said.
King Abdullah Port, about 120 km north of Jeddah, features the world’s deepest 18-meter water berths and state-of-the-art processing facilities.
The port’s container terminal’s current capacity of 3 million TEU — or 20ft equivalent units, a measure of cargo capacity — will increase to 5 million TEU by the end of the year, according to Qutub.
“King Abdullah Port ended 2018 with an annual throughput increase exceeding 36 percent, a record. If we maintain this growth rate over the coming years, we will achieve our goal of 20 million containers per year very soon.”
Saleh Al-Turki, mayor of Jeddah, said that the port “will add huge value to the city of Jeddah.”
“This is a huge event. The port makes Jeddah the number one logistics hub in the Middle East. It connects East to West,” he said.
The port’s expansion will encourage further development in the region, creating jobs, increasing urbanization and delivering economic affluence, Al-Turki said.