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Privatisation of Kingdom's ports confirmed at Maritime Saudi Arabia 2010

Privatisation of Kingdom's ports confirmed at Maritime Saudi Arabia 2010

Jeddah: The launch of a private company to manage all eight existing seaports in the Kingdom plus a ninth under construction was announced at the Maritime Saudi Arabia 2010 event which closed here today. Inaugurated by Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdul Majed, the two-day event was organised by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with Seatrade and Knight Group.

Saudi Ports Authority chief Khaled Bubshait said that studies for the privatization of Saudi ports have already been carried out by the Authority, according to Arab News. Based on these studies, an independent entity will be given the responsibility to run the seaports, he added.

Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry informed that his ministry was currently studying the construction of a new port at Al-Lith on the Red Sea coast, as a backup for the Jeddah Islamic Port.

Amer Alireza, ceo of Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT), detailed how his terminal had opened on time last December, becoming the first privately managed transfer build-operate-transfer container terminal at the Jeddah Islamic Port. The timing of opening a new port during a recession could have been better, he acknowledged, "but we had the conviction that the world containerization business would still grow, particularly in young markets such as ours."

Several of the 13 speakers at the event referred to the rail network being developed to connect the eastern part of Saudi Arabia to the Western Region, pointing out that this "landbridge" could effect great changes to transport patterns by reducing the transportation time between Europe, North America and the GCC via Jeddah by more than a week, ensuring faster delivery of goods.

Until the recent downturn Saudi Arabian container trade had been growing by roughly 13% a year since 1998, according to figures presented at MSA. Jeddah was the third busies container port in the Middle East region in 2009, handling 3.09m TEU compared to Jebel Ali's 11.12m TEU and Salalah's 3.49m TEU, said Jesper Kjaedegaard of logistics and infrastructure advisors Mercator International LLC. [01/06/10]