LONDON: The Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) has launched the first direct shipping line connecting Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port with Egypt’s Sokhna Port through Jeddah Islamic Port.
It is the fourth shipping line to be launched by Mawani and comes as the region’s big logistics hubs come come under pressure from a sharp decline in global trade.
The investment is part of a broader plan to boost the trade economy of the Kingdom by establishing it as a landbridge for goods between Europe and Africa.
DP World was awarded a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession by Mawani in December for the management and development of the Jeddah South Container Terminal at the multi-purpose Jeddah Islamic Port.
Under the deal, DP World will invest up to $500 million to improve and modernize Jeddah Islamic Port, allowing it to handle ultra-large container carriers (ULCC’s), considered to be the world’s largest mega containerships.
“The direct shipping line will connect Jeddah Islamic Port with more ports in the East and the West, making it a central regional and global gateway, and establishing the Kingdom as a leading logistics center,” said Saad Alkhalb, president of Saudi Ports Authority. “The line will also help facilitate trade across all the global supply chains, increase transhipment volumes and gain an upgraded share of the ships on the Red Sea Coast.
DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem this week warned the coronavirus pandemic had taken a big toll on global trade which has suffered its worst blow since the aftermath of World War Two.
Dubai’s gateway industrial estate also said on Wednesday that it was stepping up incentives offered to tenants.
Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), the conduit for almost a quarter of the foreign direct investment flowing into the emirate, is offering short-term warehouse rentals and allowing deferred rent payments in an effort to shield its tenants from the pandemic fallout.
It comes as the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday predicted the global economy would shrink by 4.9 percent in 2020.
Global trade will shrink by 11.9 percent, reflecting considerably weaker demand for goods and services, including tourism, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook.
Heavily reliant on trade and tourism, Dubai is introducing a number of measures in an attempt to preserve its status as the leading regional trade entrepôt and holiday destination of choice.
In addition to offering monthly rentals and deferred payment options, Jafza is also giving tenants free water and electricity, it said.
“Challenging times call for competitive solutions,” said Jafza CEO Mohammed Al-Muallem. “Being a part of the vital service sectors of the UAE economy, we assure our customers that we will ensure the continuity of their business in the most uncertain of times by connecting them to new opportunities.”