January 16, 2017

Abu Dhabi Ports, the master developer, operator and manager of the emirate’s commercial and community ports as well as Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), has gone from strength to strength in 2016. Notching up a number of significant milestones, the company has been an integral part of the emirate’s rapid growth in line with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Ten years after its establishment, Abu Dhabi Ports has steadily grown and gained a prominent position in the logistics and trade sectors on a local, regional, and international scale. Throughout 2016, the company has focussed its strategies on three main aspects: expansion and growth, customer-centric processes supported by smart systems, as well as further developing its capacity.

High financial performance

With a remarkable financial performance, Abu Dhabi Ports has shown commitment to economic diversification through developing non-oil sectors, such as trade, logistics, transportation, manufacturing and tourism. As a result, the company has contributed more than 3% of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil GDP and 1.8% of the UAE’s non-oil GDP.

Witnessing over 140% increase in net profits and about 90% increase in EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) compared to 2015, as well as major growth in port traffic across most sectors despite a global slowdown, Abu Dhabi Ports is celebrating a very successful 2016.

The unique strategic location offers access to the US$7.8 trillion market of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi Ports is keeping up the momentum of progress by investing in its people, technology and infrastructure to drive the growth of the company and industry at large.

2016 has also seen Abu Dhabi Ports recover all accumulated losses since inception ahead of the business plan, and contribute more than 70% of to the Emirate’s customs revenue having worked closely with partners in the Department of Finance – Customs Directorate, to provide smart solutions that facilitate the import and export process for Abu Dhabi traders.

Continued expansion and growth

2016 saw Abu Dhabi Ports sign a major container terminal concession agreement with COSCO SHIPPING Ports Limited – Abu Dhabi (CSPL SPV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of COSCO SHIPPING Ports Limited, a subsidiary of China COSCO SHIPPING Corporation Limited, one of the leading container terminal operators in the world. The Chinese company will operate a new container terminal in 2018 with a draft depth of 18 metres, and 1200 metres of quay wall and adjacent land. This will significantly expand trade between China, the UAE and the wider region, greatly enhancing Abu Dhabi’s and the UAE’s role as a key logistics and trade hub linking East and West in addition to further diversifying the UAE’s dynamic economy.

Due to the immense growth at Khalifa Port since its inauguration in 2012, Abu Dhabi Ports has also announced an additional expansion plan by awarding a contract to National Dredging Company (NDC) which will add 1,000 metres of quay wall, and deepen Khalifa Port’s main channel and basin from 16 metres to 18 metres.

Moreover, Khalifa Port has reached a significant milestone this year, having handled five million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) since its inception in December 2012 as one of the fastest-growing ports in the world. The port has also welcomed three new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes and 10 new automated stacking cranes (ASC), bringing the total up to 12 ship-to-shore cranes and 52 automated stacking cranes.

Zayed Port

Zayed Port is Abu Dhabi’s oldest commercial port and has been the main city port for the last 40 years. It covers an area of 5.1 square kilometres and has remained a vital player in enabling maritime trade in the Capital throughout 2016.

In August this year, Abu Dhabi Ports signed a long term contract with Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) for the construction of a fully-operational ship repair facility with a floating dock capability within Zayed Port. This agreement aimed to boost Abu Dhabi’s trade and maritime industry, with Phase 1 of the project including the development and operation of a dedicated berth of 430 linear metres of quay wall and more than 12,000 sqm of yard facilities.

Earlier in the year, the company has also procured a range of new advanced equipment part of an ongoing upgrade to all of the general cargo and Roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) handling equipment at both Khalifa Port and Zayed Port. The new equipment, including forklift trucks, terminal tractors, roll trailers and truck-mounted mobile cranes, significantly enhance the efficiency and safety of port operations, and reduce vessel turnaround time. Much of the new equipment also has an improved ergonomic design that provides equipment operators and drivers with better working comfort.

Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD)

KIZAD, Abu Dhabi Ports’ integrated trade, logistics and industrial hub, has been at the forefront of the company’s success in 2016, having leased over two million square metres of land to local, regional, and international customers.

Recognised for offering tenants unparalleled accessibility to exceptional road, sea, air, and rail networks, KIZAD’s Logistics Park has fully leased its pre-built warehouses in Phase 1 and launched Phase 2 to meet growing demand in the market.

Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone

In response to the growing demand for free zones, Abu Dhabi Ports has introduced Khalifa Port FTZ within KIZAD this year, increasing its total free zone space to over 100 million m2.

Within the additional free zone land allocated in Kizad Area A, reaching a gross area of 16 million m2, KIZAD is drafting a master plan that includes a business park, two district centres and four local centres. The business park will offer multiple real estate opportunities and welcome interested suppliers to serve the needs of over 50,000 customers.

Within the gross area of 100 square kilometres (across Areas A and B), the wide portfolio of investment sectors in Khalifa Port FTZ includes aluminium, automotive, engineered metals, port logistics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, polymers as well as other industries that rely on Khalifa Port.

The Free Zone warehouses are among the most anticipated projects at Khalifa Port FTZ, while the Light Industrial Units (LIU) Cluster is expected to be a major attraction at KIZAD for SMEs.

International operations

In support of its strategic partner Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), Abu Dhabi Ports has signed this year its first international management services agreement with Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of EGA, to manage and operate a cargo terminal at Port Kamsar in the Republic of Guinea. Apart from general trade, the terminal serves EGA’s development of a bauxite mine in Guinea.

The current expansion of Khalifa Port will support large ships bringing bauxite into Abu Dhabi, helping keep the UAE at the forefront of the growing aluminium manufacturing industry, which uses bauxite as a key raw material.

Positioning Abu Dhabi on the international cruise tourism map

Abu Dhabi Ports has played a vital role in diversifying income sources to support the economic development of the UAE in 2016. With cruise tourism as a fundamental avenue to achieve this goal, the company has made a number of significant investments in order to position Abu Dhabi competitively on the international cruise tourism map, benefiting from the Emirate’s diversified and unique tourism experiences.

Abu Dhabi Ports has made a major contribution to the remarkable growth witnessed in the cruise sector this year. This growth has set expectations for the 2016/2017 season, projecting a 21 per cent increase in vessel calls compared to last year with 137 cruise ships, 10 of which will be calling in Abu Dhabi for the first time.

Boasting state-of-the-art technology and retail offerings, the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at Zayed Port has welcomed 231,660 tourists in the 2015/2016 season, compared to 35,366 passengers who arrived at the port 10 years ago during cruise season 2006/2007.

With cruise passenger traffic estimated to grow by eight per cent in the 2016/2017, Abu Dhabi Ports recently launched the first dedicated cruise beach and eco-tourism stopover in the Arabian Gulf, Sir Bani Yas Island Cruise Beach. The new destination offers tailor-made operational solutions in combination with unique beach and wildlife activities.

Reaching new milestones

New milestones this year included the launch of Abu Dhabi Marine Services’ (Safeen) four new state-of-the-art tugboats, which specialise in towing and escorting the world’s largest ships that now regularly call at locations in Abu Dhabi. The 75 BP ASD Azimuth Stern Drive tugs based at Khalifa Port can support the latest generation post-Panamax container vessels capable of handling some 18,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU).

In addition, Safeen has achieved industry distinctions from leading international bodies, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for safety management, the International Safety Management (ISM) certification and the International Standard for Maritime Pilot Organizations (ISPO) – the industry gold standard.

Safeen has also received the internationally prestigious ISO 14001: 2004 recognising best practices in environmental management systems, and the OHSAS 18001: 2007 issued by Lloyd’s of London certifying best-in-class occupational health and safety in the maritime, shipping and logistics sectors.

In acknowledgement of the company’s commitment to highest levels of customer service, Abu Dhabi Ports also obtained the ISO 10002:2014 certification, which ensures best global practice in handling customer service complaints.

As part of its strategy, the company is committed to serving its customers with a focus on maintaining relationships as well as engaging with partners and stakeholders in order to gain their continued support and collaboration.

The certification validates Abu Dhabi Ports’ advanced customer feedback management system and long-standing portfolio of customer service initiatives. It covers all units of Abu Dhabi Ports and its subsidiaries, such as Khalifa Industrial Zone, Safeen, and Maqta Gateway as well as operations at Khalifa Port, Zayed Porta and Musaffah Port.

In line with our commitment to ensure best-in-class customer service, Abu Dhabi Ports strives to hone the skills of its workforce in order to guarantee an exceptional customer experience. The certification endorses the transparent, open-to-feedback approach the company has adopted with regard to customer complaint resolution, to enhance the effectiveness of procedures and increase customer satisfaction.

Technological advancements and smart systems

Following the path to technological advancement and knowledge-based economy embraced by the UAE, Abu Dhabi Ports has spared no efforts in adopting cutting-edge technology to realise its vision of becoming the preferred provider of world-class integrated ports and industrial zone services.

Maqta Gateway, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports and an innovative port community system that provides a single online window for Abu Dhabi trade customers, has achieved another significant milestone with the completion of Phase 2 of its development this year.

2016 also witnessed the launch of Maqta Gateway’s digital vessel management system. Moreover, the company has become the first regional host of the annual conference of the International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) that hosted over 100 executives and industry professionals in Abu Dhabi in December.

Awards and recognitions

2016 Maritime Standard Awards of the Middle East and Subcontinent:

Deal of the Year Award for the recent agreement signed with COSCO SHIPPING Ports Limited – Abu Dhabi

Technology and Innovation Award in recognition of the Maqta Gateway port community system

Maritime Standard Woman in Shipping Award for Noura Rashed Al Dhaheri, Cruise Terminal Manager, for her valuable contribution to developing the cruise terminal at Zayed Port

2016 Seatrade Maritime Awards of the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa:

Port Authority Award

2016 International Bulk Journal Awards:

Special Achievements Award in recognition of Maqta Gateway’s outstanding development in a short period of time

Talent development

The maritime industry is a crucial element of the emirate’s economic development plan, and Abu Dhabi Ports has spearheaded the cultivation of talent that will lead the future growth of this sector.

In partnership with the Australian Maritime College (AMC), Abu Dhabi Ports launched a specialised marine training programme, to qualify 16 Emirati trainees, 4 of which are female participants for the first time in the region.

Championing the cause of empowering female employees, Abu Dhabi Ports has also launched a Women’s Committee this year with a focus on reinforcing the unique role women play in the maritime sector. The committee aims to eliminate all obstacles standing in the way of women’s advancement and ensure that all employees, male or female, reach their full potential.


Supporting and enabling UAE nationals in their career aspirations is an important goal for Abu Dhabi Ports. By doing so, the organisation creates meaningful skilled careers for Emiratis and supports one of the core objectives of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

In 2016, Abu Dhabi Ports has achieved over 54 per cent Emiratisation and is proud to have most of its senior management positions held by UAE nationals.

The organisation remains strongly committed to the Absher Initiative, introduced by the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs in 2013. As part of the nationwide campaign, Abu Dhabi Ports is working to create job vacancies across its business units to adopt more Emirati talents.

Other agreements and contracts

Lease agreement signed with Agthia Group PJSC

Mustaha agreement signed with ADNOC Distribution

Contract signed with Wintershall Middle East GmbH

Memorandum of Understanding signed with Khalifa University

Contract signed with Dolphin Energy

With the vision and mission in mind, Abu Dhabi Ports has navigated 2016 with confidence and strength with the aim of enabling maritime trade and becoming the preferred provider of integrated ports and industrial zone services. The success over the past year was a result of a comprehensive ecosystem built around the guidance of the UAE’s wise government, partnerships with other government entities, and working closely with industry partners and customers. This has helped the company create unmatched solutions and services that has placed its ports and industrial zone among the best in the world.

Contributing significantly to the UAE’s economic growth, Abu Dhabi Ports looks forward to making more strides in 2017 and beyond.