Ro-ro traffic was handled at Zayed port, which provided capacity for 132,000 vehicle units per year, but in 2014 Abu Dhabi handled more than 100,000 units in a single year, a growth of almost 18% compared to the previous year. Khalifa Port’s current annual capacity is nearly three times that at Zayad port (360,000), and there are plans to extend the capacity to accommodate over 500,000 units per year in the future.
“Over recent years, Abu Dhabi’s ro-ro business has increased significantly,” said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports. “Today it forms an important element of the Emirate’s strategic vision to diversify the economy. As the UAE is a growing market for the automotive sector, our business strategy is to support this growth by developing and enhancing Abu Dhabi’s port infrastructure, to build this sustainable industry for the Emirate’s future prosperity.”
As well as being able to handle greater volumes of automotive traffic, Khalifa port is able to accommodate four of the largest ro-ro vessels at a time, double the number that Zayed port could handle, significantly boosting turnaround times. The port authority said this provided a major advantage for ro-ro carriers looking to reduce voyage times and enhance their overall network coverage in the region using a hub and spoke model.
One further advantage for ro-ro that the Khalifa port hub offers is its position next to the Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad), halfway between the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Kalifa port stated that the logistics and distribution area in the zone, along with the good transport connections, would enable car dealers to establish distribution centres capable of serving the entire UAE. The space available also offers the potential to provide covered storage facilities for importers.
“With Khalifa Port, we are now able to offer a consolidated full service ro-ro hub supported by the adjacent Kizad,” said Al Shamisi. “Moving forward, the extended space and capacity at the port will cater for the Emirate’s import, export and transshipment volumes and enable us to offer economies of scale to our customers while strengthening the port’s position both nationally and internationally.”