Qatar ministers gathered at the country’s new port yesterday to welcome its very first ship, the heavy load carrier Zhen Hua 10.
The vessel sailed into the Hamad Port (formerly new port project) laden with 12 cranes that will be used to unload goods from ships using the new facility.
The $7.4 billion (QR27 billion) new port, which is located in Umm Al-Houl near Mesaieed, is set to soft launch by the end of this year. Completion of the first phase is set for the end of 2016.
It’s hoped that the opening of the port will help to relieve bottlenecks in the construction material supply chain.
The country’s existing port is very congested, and Qatar’s construction industry has been battling high prices for materials, driven in part by restrictions on the volume the current port facilities can handle.
Addressing journalists at the ceremony yesterday, Transport Minister Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said that the new facility would significantly increase Qatar’s opportunities for trade:
“To achieve the objectives of the pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030, the port will support economic diversification and improve the region’s competitiveness by transforming Qatar into a regional sea trading hub. Once installed, the ship-to-shore cranes will be able to offload the largest shipping containers from the largest cargo ships in the world,” he said.
One of the ceremony attendees, Hussain al-Maqeef, watched the ship dock, and shared this video on Instagram:
Last January, the country’s transport minister said construction on the site would be speeded up, with the aim of completing the project 10 years ahead of its original 2030 deadline.
The Peninsula reports that the Zhen Hua 10 had originally been due to dock in the UAE and its load of cranes transferred to smaller ships for their journey to Qatar, but the early completion of the dock at Hamad Port allowed for it to sail directly to its destination.
Although significant infrastructure like roads and buildings surrounding the port have yet to be completed, the Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani) is planning to begin using the facility for a limited number of ships from the end of the year.
These ships will likely carry vehicles and livestock.
When completed, Hamad Port will cover a site of around 20 sq km and will include three container terminals with an eventual combined annual capacity in excess of six million containers per year.
The port area will also house a new base for the Emiri Naval Forces and “Qatar Economic Zone 3,” a new industrial area integrated with residential units.