DUBAI — The UAE marine ports industry recorded an impressive 19 percent growth over the past three years, matching the collective annual growth rate of the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The majority of the country’s large marine infrastructure development projects are expected to be completed within the next ten years.
So says Ms Nadia K Baradihi, President and CEO of Baradihi Diving Services, a commercial diving services provider in the UAE and GCC that is involved in the diving operations of a number of projects in the UAE and the region, including Port Khalifa, Deira Island, Dubai Maritime City and Le Promenade.
According to Ms Baradihi, the Middle East Region, particularly the GCC sub-region, has witnessed a significant, demand-driven increase in the quality and quantity of marine companies and operators, which is making the Middle East, and the Arabian Gulf in particular, one of the most dynamic and vibrant international maritime centers in the world.
She further added, “Marine development projects in the region have really come to the forefront during the past five years. The massive economic growth witnessed in the Middle East region, coupled with the coastal location of the GCC countries, is driving major seaport expansion in the region, and over 50 projects worth over US$40 billion are currently underway, with individual budgets ranging from US$10 million to US$5.5 billion.”
Ms Baradihi adds that a significant part of this demand is expected to come from the UAE, where developers are working on a number of offshore and waterfront property projects. “Every emirate has land reclamation projects, and even after the completion of these projects, maintenance will be required. This will present us with further opportunities and enhance our presence in the region.”
In the first half of 2009, there were 13 major maritime developments in the Middle East and GCC regions. Of the 13 projects, the UAE boasts four prominent developments: the US$2.5 billion Port Khalifa and Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi; the US$599 million Mina Rashid in Dubai; the US$560 million Dana Island in Ras Al Khaimah; and the US$1.8 billion Al Marjan Island, also in Ras Al Khaimah; while KSA has three major projects underway: the US$5 billion King Abdullah Economic City Port; the US$700 million Ras Al Zoor Port; and the US$450 million Red Sea container station at Jeddah Islamic.
The remaining six projects are divided among the Sultanate of Oman, with two major projects – the US$1.1 billion Duqm Port and the US$400 million Sultan Qabus Port; Qatar, also with two major projects – the US$5.5 billion New Meseaid Port and the US$1.2 billion Ras Lafan port development project; Kuwait, with the US$1 billion Bubian Island project; and Libya, with the US$2 billion in the Gulf of Sirt.
Once the economic crisis has passed and the global markets have settled, further expansion projects are expected to be announced the Middle East region, and the strategic importance of marine projects will be an important factor in countries’ trading activities. These projects will likely have a significant influence on the gross domestic product (GDP) figures of Middle Eastern and GCC countries, in accordance with GDP readings issued by advanced and established global economies in terms of ports and free zones development projects.