NEW HORIZONS

Dubai 2016 | MARITIME | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Arif Obaid Al Dehail, Chairman & CEO of P&O Ports, on international experience, global demand for smaller ports, and the company's worldwide operations.

Arif Obaid Al Dehail
BIOGRAPHY
Arif Obaid Al Dehail is the Chairman & CEO of P&O Ports. He is also the CEO of the Department of Planning & Development, the regulatory arm of Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation. He has more than 25 years of experience in the ports and shipping industry, holding several leading positions in DP World such as Senior Vice President Global Operation & Engineering and Acting Senior Vice President & Managing Director for Africa region at DP World Head office. He has a degree in geo-economics from UAE University in 1989, and holds specialized diplomas in shipping and ports management from the Singapore Port Authority and University of Delaware.

P&O Ports was established at the beginning of 2015 as a subsidiary of PCFC. How will P&O Ports support sustainable development in emerging economies?

P&O Ports supports and enhances sustainable development in emerging economies because all of our investments are in ports in emerging economies, primarily in Africa. And because our focus is on smaller, multipurpose ports, our focus is on those ports that most need outside assistance and international best practice in ports management. By doing this we increase the attractiveness of the port to more shipping lines and this grows the local economy and creates jobs.

What expertise will P&O Ports employees bring to potential ports and terminals?

P&O Ports employees bring decades of experience in investing in and managing ports in emerging markets. The team has been handpicked with a mix of commercial, business development, and operations experience that allows P&O Ports to provide a complete ports solution to its clients.

P&O Ports has already signed agreements with Madagascar, Somalia, and Albania to enhance their port infrastructure. What other countries do you see as key markets for your operations?

Key markets for P&O Ports for future investments and management agreements are in the emerging economies of Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania. We have a large number of other locations where the governments and port authorities have expressed interest in the value we can add.

What major investments will P&O Ports undertake in the near future?

The major investments that P&O Ports will be undertaking in the short term are locally in the UAE as well as in Albania and Mauritania. These investments are not always about a large monetary investment but they are also about providing the right set of management skills to help the host governments run their ports efficiently and attract more cargo to their ports through the presence of P&O Ports.

There is an increasing demand for smaller port services. How do you see the industry's future growth?

There is definitely an increasing demand for smaller port operators. The global container terminal operators focus on very large container terminals with volumes upwards of 1 million TEUs per year. In contrast, there are no port operators today focusing on the small multipurpose terminals that load and unload rice, wheat, wood products, and so on. These types of ports tend to be run by the local public port authority. It is P&O Ports' intention to work with local port authorities to privatize and build an international portfolio of these ports, in the same way that DP World built up a global portfolio of large container terminals.

Where do you see P&O Ports in the next five years?

In the next five years P&O Ports will operate five to 15 small multi-purpose ports, both in the UAE and in emerging markets in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. The journey will be an exciting one.