KSA- Saudi Arabia is experiencing exponential growth in its ports and shipping sectors with a number of mega infrastructural land and sea projects planned and currently in progress, totaling US$ 30 billion within the government’s current five-year plan.
To promote internal and foreign direct investment still further and to support job creation initiatives for Saudi nationals, the first Saudi Maritime Congress has been launched under the patronage of H.E. Jabara bin Eid Al Suraiseri, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Transport and Chairman of Saudi Ports Authority. The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), one of the biggest shipping conglomerates in the world is the initiator and strategic partner of The Saudi Maritime Congress.
“The Saudi Ports Authority serves the largest economy in the region, handling 95% of the exports and imports of the Kingdom (excluding crude oil). This represents 61% of the total cargo handled in the GCC states, managing 210 Berths, distributed between nine commercial and industrial ports,” Chris Hayman, Chairman, Seatrade, a global leader in maritime publications, conferences and exhibitions and organiser of the Saudi Maritime Congress.
The two day conference-led event, which will take place at the Sheraton Dammam Hotel & Towers from the 25-26 November 2014, will attract up to 200 delegates. Amongst the participants offering first-hand business intelligence are some of the Kingdom’s foremost stakeholders, decision makers, investors, trade specialists and economists.
There are currently four major Saudi ports. Jeddah, Dammam, Jubail commercial and industrial port and Yanbu industrial and commercial port. However a number of new mega projects are already underway or planned.
According to Bloomberg, these include Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) which is currently undergoing an expansion project, which will eventually increase capacity by 45%. The Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) was launched at JIP with the facility receiving its first vessel, with the RSGT project having a 1.8 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity. The US$ 510 million project has been developed on 400,000 square metres of reclaimed land and has a 740 metre main berth, plus a 390 metre feeder berth.
Other major projects according to arabnewservice.com include, the seaport in phase one of the US$ 26 billion, King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which opened earlier this year in January and is designed to become one of the top ten ports in the world. MARAFIQ’s Yanbu Industrial City – Marine Facilities (US$ 210 million) and Saudi Aramco with their Dareen Port Expansion Project (US$ 35 million) which is due to be completed this year.
As the Saudi economy has been progressively opened so too has the variety of domestic and export-oriented investment opportunities. According to the UN World Investment Report 2013, Saudi Arabia’s FDI inflow in 2012 stood at US$12.2 billion, nearly half of the US$26.4 billion FDI recorded for the entire GCC region
“This inward investment also provides the Saudi government with further means to create new jobs in the maritime, trade and logistics sectors. The unemployment rate for Saudis rose from 10.5% at the end of 2009 to 12.1% at the end of 2012, 30% of which are young men, while the Kingdom employs 8 million foreign workers. The Congress will no doubt address these issues,” added Hayman.
According to the Saudi labour ministry, the economy needs to provide 3 million new jobs for Saudi nationals by 2015 and high birth rates are compounding the situation increasing the number of youths entering the job market every year, with salary expectations, on average, 3.6 times higher than those of foreign workers.
The event will also be complemented by an associated exhibition including leading shipping lines, shippers, cargo owners, forwarders, logistic companies, port terminal operators, port equipment and service suppliers.