Sep. 5, 2016

Martijn van de Linde

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Martijn van de Linde

CEO, Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT)

TBY talks to Martijn van de Linde, CEO of Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT), on the growing sectors in maritime, working closely with clients, and the port's major expansion plans.


Martijn van de Linde was appointed CEO of Abu Dhabi Terminals in 2010. Some of his key developments since 2010 include developing and opening Khalifa Port’s container terminal, the region’s first semi-automated container terminal. Van de Linde has over 17 years of international port management experience. Before joining ADT, he was CEO of the Port of Salalah in Oman, vice president of Global Operations for APM Terminals, and terminal manager for the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia.

How has ADT facilitated growth in the Emirate's maritime sector?

We expect YoY growth to come in at roughly 35% for 2015 over 2014 or around 1.5 million containers in 2015. In addition, we seek 10-11% growth for 2016 in terms of our forecast. The Abu Dhabi export business is the most important segment for us, along with transshipment. Those two segments drive the bulk of our growth. On the imports side, growth is more moderate, as it is related to GDP and government spending and we see fairly normal growth percentages of 3-5%. The major industries for us on the export side are steel, aluminum, polymers, food processing, and agriculture. All these activities have received a great deal of investment over the last few decades. The authorities have ramped up capacity and produced a great deal on the commodities side. Most of this goes out through Khalifa Port and drives our growth. We have also been expanding the transshipment business, moving cargo for other ports in the region. The UAE is still the hub that most shipping lines and traders choose within the Gulf area.

Can you elaborate on your relationship with government-linked companies that you work with here in Kizad, and how you facilitate trade for them?

We take a direct approach and spend considerable time and effort on building market intelligence. We use all the information we collect to map out the markets and the origins and destinations for all the companies that conduct imports and exports in Abu Dhabi and the surrounding markets. We then talk directly to those companies to determine their needs. We look at whether we have all their business, and if not what we have to do to get it. We use that same approach from small companies all the way to large government accounts. Once we figure out what customers need in terms of service and coverage we try to translate that into a network that we can provide. We map that network up and match it to the shipping lines' networks. This way, we can accurately measure if we are servicing the economy and trade satisfactorily. It also allows us to identify opportunities that we would not otherwise know about, such as a packing plant, which is not an obvious activity to do at a container terminal.

What can we expect from ADT in 2016 in terms of expansion, development, and major names?

At the moment, there are 45 different companies setting up at Kizad. That industrial zone will continue to grow; it just takes time to build and get all the permits in place. Brazil Foods (BRF) is celebrating its first anniversary at Kizad, and once companies are there and it starts developing, the integration will really begin to work. Companies in Kizad typically look at supplying the UAE market, before adding more capacity and entering the Gulf market. We will add the final stage of Phase I in 4Q2016-1Q2017. We will get three more automated stacking ship-to-shore (STS) cranes from China. In 2016, we will be 85% utilized, which is plenty for most ports. We will then enter Phase II, which is the full build of the man-made port island. We expect to start investing in that in 2018. By then, we will be up to over 2 million TEUs and there is a lead time of about 18 months from investment to commissioning. Then, we will have another 2.5 million TEU capacity to grow with. We have been enjoying a fantastic growth profile over the last five years. Container volume in Abu Dhabi grew from 500,000 TEUs to 1.5 million in four years. We will have another one or two years with double-digit growth, before it moderates after 2017. There are a number of wild cards at the moment with low oil prices and budget deficits in the Gulf states, which is relevant for everyone.