GCC to pump in $15bn for port expansion
Sharjah, December 13, 2011
The GCC countries will invest $15 billion towards expansion of their ports in the next five years, said maritime experts at a major conference in Sharjah.
The 'Gulf Maritime and the Mastech International Marine and Technical Conference,' was inaugurated by Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Qassimi, chairman of Sharjah Ports Authority & Department of Sea Ports & Customs, and Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Monday.
The three-day event is being organised by Middle East Alumni of Ship Technology (Mast), an association of naval architects graduated from department of ship technology, (Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala, India).
In the wake of a slowdown in debt crisis-hit Western countries, trade between GCC and emerging markets has been growing at double-digit figures, prompting GCC states to expand facilities at many of its 35 major ports, said experts at the conference.
The experts also cited a recent report by global analysts EC Harris which ranked the GCC as the most attractive region in the world for investment in port developments, led by mega-projects such as Khalifa Industrial Zone and Oman’s Al Duqm and Port Khorfakkan, Sharjah.
"Rising trade with the emerging markets has thrown up massive business opportunities for GCC countries, encouraging them to invest heavily in their ports to raise capacity," remarked Al Midfa.
"Most of these ports are also well placed to benefit from a gradual shift in trade routes – being ideally located between Asia and the Far East on one hand and the West, Central Europe, and Africa on the other," he added.
The expected infrastructure investment to the tune of $2 trillion by Gulf states and the increasing focus in the manufacturing sector are also driving up cargo movements and utilisation of excess capacities.
“Gulf Maritime, along with the Mastech conference, will be an international platform that will showcase the emerging opportunities as well as serve as a comprehensive sourcing point for the commercial, government and the military maritime industry,” he added.
Apart from port expansion, the surge in ship movement has also given rise to demand for ship repair services, boosting business at Abu Dhabi Ship Building, Drydocks World and the newly-opened Al Jazeera Port in Ras Al Khaimah.
The UAE, located strategically on one of the world's most important shipping routes, sees a number of ships and vessels calling at its ports, which also means more demand for repair services.
Mastech will see 15 speakers discuss key industry issues over the two days, including keynote address, techno-commercial presentations and panel debates in five sessions.
“The sessions are designed to focus on next generation ship designs, shipping economics, technical innovations in maritime industry, marine heavy lift & transports and offshore oil & gas sectors ” explained Rajesh Babu, president of Mast.
More than 100 brands and exhibitors from Bahrain, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UAE, the UK, Ukraine and the US are taking part.-TradeArabia News Service