Marking a major economic milestone for Qatar, the country’s new Hamad Port soft-launched commercial shipping operations yesterday, QNA reports.
The new $7.4 billion (QR27 billion) port is located in Umm Al-Houl near Mesaieed. It received its first ship in July, the heavy load carrier Zhen Hua 10, which was laden with 12 cranes that will be used to unload goods from vessels that dock there.
QNA did not disclose what cargo the first commercial ships were carrying yesterday.
However, an official previously told Doha News that automobiles and animals would be among the first items to be shipped into the port.
In a statement marking the occasion, Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said the port would “modernize the way Qatar handles ocean imports and exports, increasing our maritime trade and facilitate growth and diversification of the country’s economy.”
Reduced Corniche traffic
In September, officials said the launch of commercial shipping at the new Hamad Port would remove some 100 daily truck trips from the Corniche around the old Doha Port.
“It’s going to de-congest the road network around the existing port,” Tim Verdon, the program director of the Hamad Port project and a vice-president at engineering firm Aecom told Doha News at the time.
The new Hamad port will eventually cover a site of around 20 sq km and 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 a special economic zone industrial area.
Container ships are expected to start using Hamad Port in mid-2016.
Shifting operations to Hamad Port will pave the way for more cruise ships to dock at the former Doha Port, which is eventually going to be transformed into a dedicated cruise terminal.
While that project is underway, Hamad Port will begin taking mega cruise ships from next year, director of Doha Port Management Abdul Aziz Nasser Al Yafei said earlier this month.
He added that Qatar’s capital will welcome 30 cruise ships during the next tourist season, which runs from October 2016 to April 2017 – significantly more than the eight vessels that will stop in Doha this winter.
According to Al Yafei, a temporary passenger terminal and lounge will be built at Hamad Port while construction of Doha Port is underway.