During his exclusive interview with Marasi News, Abdulkareem Al Masabi, Vice President, Khalifa Port Operations at Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) assures the smooth operations of ADPC, which support Abu Dhabi in development, trade and diversification of the national economy, thus achieving greater prosperity.
Could you give us an overview of the progress made by ADPC and how you were able to reach this level of leadership?
ADPC works on promoting and developing the ports in Abu Dhabi. Khalifa Port has becoming the largest and most prominent port for ADPC. With large additions being made on the absorptive capacity of Khalifa Port, the capabilities of Abu Dhabi’s ports in dealing with containers, cargo and goods have tripled three times from what it was previously, which opens up new possibilities in the field of maritime trade and the ability to receive the largest ships in the world.
By approaching 2030 and in line with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Plan to diversify its economy, Khalifa Port will be able to handle 15 million TEUs per year, and will work together with its neighboring industrial city “Kizad”, thereby contributing 15% to the GDP excluding oil production.
The integration between commercial and industrial services is a key factor in promoting economic growth. Moreover, ADPC has completed building the Khalifa Industrial City, and that reflects this integration at its best, as its proximity from Khalifa Port facilitates the work of companies and institutions involved.
What are the current and most important priorities for ADPC?
As a major developer for commercial ports and industrial zones in the emirate, ADPC continues to improve Khalifa Port, Kizad, and the other ports it runs. In the meantime, the company gives special importance to developmental projects that contribute to the creation of sustainable economies.
The development of the new cruise ship terminal at Zayed Port is one of those projects that the company is working on. According to the scheme, a new building for the cruise ship terminal will be built, which will become a distinctive architectural landmark in Abu Dhabi. It will also include a traditional market with facilities for citizens and tourists.
Outstanding efforts are being made by ADPC to develop the ports of the western region, and strengthen its role in serving the community. It also works hard to add new and developed facilities, which will therefore contribute to the creation of job opportunities for citizens, and open up new horizons for the establishment of SMEs.
What types of shipping operations does Khalifa Port carry out at the present time? And how much is its current capacity?
One of the goals achieved by the Khalifa Port is to fully absorb all containers’ operations that were administered from Port Zayed.
Khalifa Port today runs the movement of general cargo, with an equivalent of 2 million tons, most of which come in the form of shipments of bulk and dry. The annual capacity of the port in the first stage of operation is about 2.5 million TEU and with a capacity of 12 million tons of shipments of general and bulk cargo.
Once the developmental stages experienced by Kizad is complete, it is expected that the movement of exports and imports through Khalifa port will experience a remarkable boom. The number of investors that have already started constructions of their new locations in Kizad is more than 50 national, regional and international companies.
Kizad has already attracted the attention of major international companies, which will be an opportunity for expansion in the Arab region’s markets, or an investment that opens for them new markets in the Middle East and Greater Asia.
Your Maritime Training Center is considered to have the first accredited center in the region to provide advanced levels of Marine training courses. What is the center’s plan to enhance the maritime sector?
The maritime training center of the ADPC has witnessed a significant growth in 2013, recording an increase in the total number of participants in its courses by 41% compared with the previous year and an increase in trainees’ number to jump from 192 in 2012 to 271 in 2013.
Beside the “Definition of Water Canals” course, one of the major programs that attract a lot of trainees, the training center has added five new courses to expand the curriculum and enhance the status of the center as a major destination for professionals in the maritime industry. The five additional courses cover the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), the Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO), a course on human element, Leadership and Management (HELM).
It is noteworthy that more than 400 captains from various shipping companies and maritime transport has successfully completed the “Definition of Water Canals” course since the launch of the center in 2012, and this number also included the captains of vessels carrying general and bulk shipments and some of the ships that serve oil and gas fields.
What is your opinion on the importance of training of national cadres in the maritime sector?
Our courses target all those working in the maritime sector. Examples of that include officers and ship masters, operators of fast boats, as well as professionals working in the field of maritime navigation.
The focus of our top priority now is to attract young Emiratis to work in many areas in the maritime sector, and we strive to establish training programs in collaboration with local maritime companies that aims to attract young Emiratis and train them to work in the field of “Vessel Traffic Services”, as well as help improve their level of qualification through intensive training programs, so they can occupy supervisory positions at the ports of the state.
Safety and security are among the most important issues in the world. What do you do to make sure of meeting the safety standards you have?
ADPC is committed to the highest levels of global health, safety and environmental standards, such as IMO, ESCWA, ISO, ILO and OHSAS, and not to forget as well, its adherence to the laws and local regulations issued by the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Ministry of Labour and Abu Dhabi Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Moreover, ADPC has worked, since its establishment, on attracting experienced and highly skilled personnel to implement the integrated management program for health, safety and environment, which is approved by Abu Dhabi Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, and supervising the training of staff in various departments to achieve a safe working environment for the users of Abu Dhabi’s ports.
What does ADPC Marine Services Company provide to its customers?
The Abu Dhabi Marine Services Company has gained wide fame since its establishment a year ago. It is known for providing inclusive navigation services to all ships visiting Abu Dhabi’s ports through the canals and waterways. The services company includes more than 160 specialist employees, who are highly skilled and certified trainers, and a team of 19 of the most skilled captains, who are familiar with coastal terrains, to provide guidance service 24/7, seven days a week, in all ports of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The company has given the quality and safety standards its maximum interest, and succeeded in implementing more than 5000 hours of work on tug boats and about 4,000 hours of work on the guidance boats during 2013, reaching a total of 783,000 hours of work in various activities without recording any incidents of wasting time.
The company has a service agreement with TASNEEF, which is responsible for examining and certifying ships. What is the significance of this agreement and what do you expect from TASNEEF?
The agreement is centralized in the idea of examining ships and issuing the needed certificates that are required internationally, which are important to ensure the safety of the ship’s body, engine and staff, as well as to ensure the protection of the environment in accordance with SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea), and the (MARPOL) Treaty (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships).
The signing of this agreement reflects our commitment to support TASNEEF and our confidence in their capacity to provide the services and expertise that we need at the highest technical levels, as TASNEEF adopts the best international standards and is considered one of the national companies that has an ambitious vision, focusing on internationally top level customer services.
What are the positive effects of implementing the Maritime Strategy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi? And how does the strategy contribute in developing the maritime industry and the in solving of its problems?
The company plays a major and important role in implementing the Marine Strategy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that fall in line with the 2030 Abu Dhabi Plan, and it aims to achieve economic diversification in Abu Dhabi through the development of quality service methods to customers and the implementation of the best practices in order to stimulate trade and enhance investment. Nevertheless, ADPC works to support infrastructure projects and establishing new companies and joint ventures in the sectors of ports and industrial zones.
What does qualify the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to be a global hub for a port such as the Khalifa Port?
The geographical location of Abu Dhabi within the area of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is very strategic and forms an important link for international shipping lines. It has an advantage as the global transformation is going from of the European and American markets to the markets of our region and Greater Asia in particular. In results, this qualifies the region to play a pivotal role in the World Trade Navy.
Do you think there is a need for more infrastructure in the maritime industry?
ADPC will continue to develop the infrastructure in the maritime industry. The most prominent of these projects is the development of a touristic harbour at Zayed Port, to provide luxurious services to cruise ships and tourists coming to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Also, the company is working in collaboration with stakeholders to develop the ports of the western region in order to serve the local community and support projects and business in that region.