Experienced, Self-Driven & Results Orientated

Sultan Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World



Interview with HE Sultan Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World.
by Lawrence J. Ireton.

Lawrence J. Ireton: From as far back as 1972 the UAE has had a dominant shipping presence in the Middle East and currently has three major container ports: Jebel Ali, Khor Fakkan and more recently with the construction of Khalifa Port. How would you describe and rate the UAE’s currently shipping infrastructure?

The UAE’s investment in trade, logistics and industry over the past forty years has put it ahead of others in the region. Continued investment in capacity, hardware, processes and systems in Jebel Ali port to enhance efficiency and meet customer’s expectations and changing industry requirements has contributed largely to Dubai’s position as the region’s trade hub, serving a strong market for cargo originating in or destined for the markets in which we operate. We see Dubai continuing to the be the market leader in this part of the world far into the future.

Khor Fakkan and the development in Abu Dhabi is complementary to what we are doing in Dubai strengthen the UAE’s position as a trading hub for the wider region. Capacity that caters for the growing needs of the UAE and the region is very much needed, and with shipping lines ordering bigger and bigger vessels to achieve economies of scale, ports need to meet those new needs and meet them efficiently

Lawrence J. Ireton: Many ports in the UAE, most notably Jebel Ali, have an adjacent free zone. To what extent do you believe the success of the shipping sector in the UAE is related to their close proximity to the many free zones active near the nation’s ports and how does this help to promote the diversification of the UAE’s economy away from oil and gas related industries?

Jebel Ali port being attached to a free zone, serving the Dubai market, as well as the establishment of the Dubai Logistics Corridor that links sea, land and air freight adds to its attractiveness because it further contributes to efficiency for both the lines and traders.

Historically, ports play a pivotal role in establishing and sustaining communities the world over, and here in the UAE, DP World has not just supported the nation’s growth but has also been the Gateway for GCC, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa cargo, playing a critical role in the economic development of both the UAE and the wider region of 2 billion people.

Lawrence J. Ireton: Jebel Ali is the world’s biggest man-made harbour and also the largest port in the Middle East, being used by 5000 companies from 120 countries. Its owner and operator DP World, reported a staggering $459 million profit for 2011, 23% ahead of 2010. Having been voted the best port in the Middle East for seventeen years in succession, what has been the main contributing factors for this in terms of company culture and strategy?

Focusing on customers and investing to ensure that their growing needs were met has driven and continues to drive everything we do, both here in the UAE as well as globally; today we are operating more than 60 marine terminals around the world with a global team of some 30,000 people.

Last year we saw volumes in the UAE region rise to 13 million TEU, which means that utilisation is extremely high at our flagship Jebel Ali port. It was clear from listening to our customers that growth in demand would mean Jebel Ali would soon be under considerable capacity pressure. It was this that led us to announce plans last year to expand Terminal 2 and construct a new terminal, Terminal 3, to take capacity to 19m TEU by 2014. The new Terminal 3 will be capable of receiving the next generation mega container ships that can carry as many as 18000 TEU, and support the continued growth of Dubai and the UAE, and enhance the country’s status as the trade centre of the Middle East.

Moreover, we believe that focus on efficiency of the supply chain is also driving new terminal development, with innovation and customer-centric solutions for the maritime and logistics supply chains becoming key areas of development. This is where the use of state of the art technology becomes central to this process as it enables the smooth integration of flows of material and information along the process chain, while innovative IT systems, complete with identification and local functionalities, drive operations. In addition, Multi-modal links are also becoming increasingly important for the efficiency of the supply chain, and today, Jebel Ali provides a sea-land-air transport link with the Dubai Logistics Corridor linking the port to the Dubai World Central airport, just 20 minutes away. Customers benefit from single window e-clearance services, including customs, and slash transit time for their freight. The integrated multi-modal cargo transport process is a logical step forward in Dubai’s continuous evolution as one of the finest trading hubs in the world. This will be further enhanced with the planned UAE national railway network, Etihad Rail, which will be linked to Jebel Ali port.

Lawrence J. Ireton: DP World has been awarded a 30 year concession agreement to manage the Port of Fujairah. With growing tensions emanating from Iran over the Strait of Hormouz and a new Abu Dhabi-Fujairah oil pipeline scheduled for completion this summer, what future importance and operating projections do you anticipate for the Port of Fujairah? (please note the question and answer is not politically orientated, and should only be viewed from an economic standpoint)

The Port of Fujairah is a multi-purpose port on the Eastern seaboard of the United Arab Emirates; is an important oil terminal and has potential to grow as a container terminal with easy access to the southern Arabian Peninsula.