Posted on September 07, 2017

After having successfully established Hamad International Airport as a new gateway to the world, Qatar yesterday announced the official opening of the iconic multi-billion dollar Hamad Port, the country’s largest access to the sea and its gateway to more than 150 destinations around the world. Developed at a whopping cost of about QR27bn ($7.4bn) the port facility is expected to bring a paradigm shift in the existing regional and global maritime landscape.

The new port will not only provide the country with complete independence in terms of the import and export of goods to various continents, but also make sea transport more efficient, reliable, consistent and competitive. The new port, spread across an area of 28.5sqkm, is expected to work as a major driving force in the country’s ongoing efforts in transforming the economy more diversified and sustainable.

“This is a major development with regard to Qatar’s sovereignty as well a hub of sea transport in the region. Hamad Port, which is one of the largest among all the 33 ports in the Arabian Gulf. It is destined to write a new chapter in the history of maritime transport in the region and beyond”, said a senior official of a leading hypermarket, which is one of the largest importers in the country. The official, who did not wish to be named, added: “I hope that with the full-fledged operation of the port and more players into the fray, the freight services will be more efficient and price competitive.”

He reiterated that this strategic move, which in line with the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030, will boost Qatar’s share in global trade and accelerate the growth and development of the local economy. The total capacity of Hamad Port is about 7.6 million containers, including 2 million containers per year within the first phase of operation of the port. The port has been designed to receive all kinds of vessels, including general cargo, livestock, equipment and vehicles. Debashis Bhattacharjee, logistics and procurement manager at a private company, said: “With the opening of Hamad Port, which is much deeper and more bigger in size (compared to Doha Port), Qatar will now be able to receive goods in bigger vessels direct from the source destinations, instead of re-importing things from neighbouring Jabel Ali (Dubai) and Sohar port (Oman), in smaller ships.”

Debashis also echoed that with the full operation of the port and more number of service providers, the tariff will come down significantly (due to economies of scale) making sea transport more economical and efficient. Yet another importer, requesting anonymity, suggested that Qatar needs to open the market to more private players, especially in the navigation sector, to ensure healthy competition by offering importers with more options and better prices. “The freight charges, before the blockade, were between $700 and $800 per tonne, but the current operator is charging about 30-40 percent more, which has pushed the traders in a difficult situation. Custom clearance at the new port is also needs to be expedited. We urge the government to intervene timely to ease the situation.”

Hamad Port, within a short span of time, has witnessed several direct shipping lines with a number of ports in the region and beyond, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, Kuwait, Oman and expected to establish more direct lines with major trade partner countries.
The new port is also going to complement and support the upcoming industrial and economic zones, logistic parks and warehousing complexes being developed by the state-backed Economic Zones Company (Manateq) across the country. Some of the major economic zones, include Ras Bufontas, Al Karaana, and Um Alhoul, which is ideally located near the Hamad Port, to facilitate access to the rest of the world via the sea. These economic zones are all ideally located for businesses which are looking to grow and serve the Mena region and beyond.

Recently a contract was signed for the design and construction of food security facilities at the port at a cost of QR1.6bn. The project will be developed and constructed on an area of 53 hectares featuring facilities for the manufacturing, conversion and refining of rice, raw sugar and edible oils.

source: The Peninsula