King Abdulaziz Port Adopts Diversification Strategy
King Abdulaziz Port, the largest Saudi port on the Arabian Gulf, marks its successful story which dates back to over four decades ago.
The comprehensive port is pioneering major industrial and economic developments.
It has expanded from a small berth capable of accommodating only two ships and connected to a 13-kilometre monorail off the coast of Dammam, to a huge complex of ports, shipyards and warehouses.
It is also a base for an integrated infrastructure of factories and facilities for various maritime and marine activities, just one kilometre from the heart of Dammam.
Commenting on King Abdulaziz Port’s journey of growth and development, Eng. Walid F. Al Faris, Director General of King Abdulaziz Port, said: "Operations at King Abdulaziz Port have started four decades ago mainly to serve the oil and gas industry, which flourishes in the Eastern Province.
“However, the Kingdom’s leadership had a vision to make it a comprehensive centre for the maritime industry, and this is exactly what has been achieved.
“The port has seen regular expansions and today, it covers approximately 190 square kilometres and is connected to the heart of Dammam, which is one kilometer away.
“The port is the integrated commercial window that connects the Kingdom to the world and its location on the Arabian Gulf makes it ideal for exporting goods to neighbouring markets in Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.
“Additionally, the port’s central position on the Arabian Gulf coastline makes it a preferred destination for international shipping lines carrying goods to the Kingdom; the biggest market in the GCC.”
Talking about the integrated capabilities of King Abdulaziz Port, Al Faris explained, “King Abdulaziz Port can handle any type of cargo with its unique capabilities that are rarely found in a single port.
“It has four terminals operated by the best port management and operation companies.
“These include two container terminals; the first, operated by the International Port Services Company, has a capacity of 2.5 million containers TEU's and a 16 metre deep with 10 berths totalling 2,160 metres in length. It is equipped with 17 bridge cranes, 5 of them are fully operated remotely.
“The second terminal, operated by the Saudi Global Ports Company, and has a capacity of 1.5 million containers TEU's, with two berths totalling 700 metres in length and a 16.5 metre deep.
Al Faris added, "The port also has a general and bulk cargo terminal in the eastern part, operated by Globe Marine Services Company.
“It includes 9 berths totalling 1,740 metres in length and 12 to 14 metre deep. It features 56,000 square metre covered warehouses and 342,000 square metre open storage areas.
“The central cargo terminal, operated by United Technical Co., Ltd, includes 13 berths with length 2,465 meters, and 9 to 14 meter deep, 44,800 square metre covered warehouses, and 372,000 square metre open storage areas.
“Waiting time for ships to unload is minimal thanks to the quality infrastructure, modern handling equipment and the ability to store bulk and general cargo in covered warehouses to protect them from weather and damage.”
In addition to the four main terminals, the port has a terminal with 33,600 square metre dimension for black cement and clinker export, and has a capacity storage silos around 30,000 tonne for black cement and a 40,000 tonnes for clinker.
The port also has a 113,000 square metre grain and fodder terminal with storage silos and warehouses with modern equipment capable of handling grains.
The port’s diversification strategy aims at enhancing its capabilities to deal with various types of cargo, including grains, oils, foodstuffs, ro-ro goods such as cars, vehicles, and other types of containers, is key to its competitiveness.
The port further promotes this position by providing services to ships such as fueling, food and other supply services.
What makes the port ideal in its operations is its connection to a network of modern highways linking it to all cities of the Eastern Province.
The Saudi Ports Authority is committed to streamlining cargo handling procedures. It takes just 24 hours to clear a container, making the port a hub for the world’s biggest logistics companies.
Ship operators at King Abdul Aziz Port also like the seamless procedures for landing of their seafarers and crews, and the ability to visit the city and enjoy its leisure facilities and tourist attractions.
Explaining the port’s manufacturing capabilities, Al Faris said, "The port houses King Fahd complex for repairing ships, operated by Al Balaghah Holding Group. It consists of two floating docks for repairing ships and offshore rigs over an area of 147,000 square metres.
“It also houses a marine construction and repair complex, managed and operated by Zamil Offshore Services Company.
“70 vessels were built in this shipyard and over 360 marine pieces of different sizes and types were repaired or maintained, including huge offshore rigs.
“Thus, the port is a comprehensive one-stop shop for ships where they can confidently set off to anywhere in the world assured of the proficient services they received.”
In addition to the port’s capabilities in ship building and repairing, as well as floating docks, it features a 500,000 square metre area for manufacturing and assembling of offshore platforms and oil drilling rigs, managed and operated by Saipem Taqa Al Rushaid Fabricators (STAR).
The port provides office spaces for logistics and maritime and ship management companies.
Commenting on the importance of training and Saudis in the maritime sector, Al Faris highlighted: “The Kingdom should take the lead in the logistics sector within Vision 2030. To ensure this is achieved, we must have qualified Saudi professionals capable of managing and operating all the port’s facilities.
“That’s why, we have established a maritime training academy at the port and have contracted with one of the world's leading marine-training organisations.”
King Abdelaziz Port, with its integrated maritime capabilities and advanced logistic facilities, has received many international maritime awards.
Receiving such international recognition contributes to promoting the name and reputation of Saudi ports, regionally and globally.
This has a positive impact and is reflected on the Kingdom’s global position as a distinguished logistics hub in the centre of three continents; contributing to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.