The Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani), as part of a ‘qualitative leap’ in its management methods and operational performance, has announced plans to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the Kingdom’s ports. The plan calls for an aggressive reduction of container waiting times by next year.
Addressing the 2nd Saudi Maritime Congress in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Mawani President Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb announced that containers’ length of stay at the ports will be reduced to three days by 2020 while the volume of container handling will be more than doubled by 2030.
“What’s more, the share of Saudi ports handling transshipment containers will be increased, the production capacity within the terminals will be optimized, and new horizons will be opened for promising investment and commercial partnerships,” AlKhalb added in remarks carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 roadmap to a more diversified economy in the future includes development plans to reduce average customs times across all Saudi ports from 14 days to 24 hours.
Last month, Mawani issued the first unified licence for a foreign investor to practice the activities of the maritime agencies in all ports it supervises in the Kingdom, SPA had reported. This unprecedented step came after its board’s approval of the general rules of licences and regulations for the activities of maritime agencies and ship suppliers except fueling. These regulations are in line with the programmes of Vision 2030.
AlKhalb made the remarks at the close of the 2nd Saudi Maritime Congress, a maritime and logistics event held in Riyadh under the patronage of Mawani, in partnership with transportation and logistics company Bahri, Saudi Arabia’s national shipping carrier. Transport and maritime officials and business figures from Saudi Arabia discussed key developments in the Kingdom’s maritime and logistics industry at the March 11-12 event.
The congress offered key insights into the booming shipping and logistics sector in light of the major transformation initiatives launched by the Saudi Government in line with Saudi Vision 2030. The logistics sector is one of the key economic pillars for further economic diversification in the Kingdom and is expected to be worth USD $18 billion.
Delivering the keynote address at the conference, Dr. Nabil Al Amoudi, the Saudi Minister of Transport, highlighted the importance of the show, the Kingdom’s growing economy and the aim of Vision 2030 to drive sustainable growth and development in the country.
“The Kingdom has provided a pioneering model in the development of the maritime sector, accompanied by the unlimited support and unprecedented attention of our wise leadership, which translates to a quality-focused shift in facilities, operational and logistical mechanisms, to position Saudi ports among the ranks of the most important regional ports and an ideal destination for major global shipping lines,” Al Amoudi said.
“We seek to continue fruitful cooperation with the public and private sectors,” he continued, “to promote this vital sector, successfully connect bridges to three continents and make the Kingdom a global logistics center.”
Mawani President Alkhalb praised government efforts as well as the public sector’s strategic partnership with the private sector to realize the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. The goal is to optimise the Kingdom’s geographical advantages and transform it into a global logistics platform that links three continents. The intended result is to make the Kingdom a major center for international trade “by upgrading its services, efficiency, operational and logistic capabilities, and developing its infrastructure, in addition to finding and training qualified national cadres, to enhance its important developmental, economic and trade roles.”
AlKhalb indicated that the nine ports supervised by Mawani are currently reaping the benefits of services and initiatives launched recently. The ports’ total container deliveries since the beginning of this year through the end of February 2019, amounted to more than 44 million tons, an increase of 10.19% over the same period in 2018, while the total number of inbound and outbound containers during the same period was 1,131,959, an increase of 6.18% over the corresponding period last year.
The ports are: Jeddah Islamic Port; King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam; King Fahad Industrial Port in Yanbu; King Fahad Industrial Port in Jubail; Jubail Commercial Port; Yanbu Commercial Port; Jizan Port; Dhiba Port; and Ras Al-Khair Port.
Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade Communications, the conference organizer, recalled the debut Saudi Maritime Conference that was held in Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2014, saying that the message then was clear: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to the major development of its maritime and logistics sector.
“Four years on, that forecast has been overwhelmingly fulfilled in the Saudi Vision 2030 programme. The world is watching with admiration the unfolding of a strategy that will position the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a global hub, delivering connectivity between Asia, Europe and Africa,” he said, adding, “In 2014, there were 17 countries represented at this event. This year we have 36 countries, the exhibition booth area has doubled in size, and we are expecting more than twice as many attendees.”