What is the QTerminals project about?
QTerminals is a joint venture between Mwani Qatar, which owns 51%, and Milaha (Qatar Navigation), which owns 49%. It is a joint government and private sector initiative to form a company to operate Phase I of Hamad Port. Phase I consists of container terminal 1 (CT1), the general cargo terminal (GCT), the multi-user terminal (MUT), which handles Ro-Ro for vehicles, machinery, and live animals, and the offshore supply services terminal (OST). During QTerminals' early days both Mwani and Milaha provided support services such as legal, HR, IT, and purchasing to help us set up our own expertise.
How has the connectivity of the port evolved since its establishment, and how did the blockade impact your plans for increased connectivity?
Before the blockade, Qatar traded with a narrow range of countries. Immediately after the blockade, Qatar had to find new partners. It was incumbent on the business community to create an environment where the changes could take place quickly, and I am pleased to say that it succeeded. Post blockade, Qatar has a significantly higher number of countries with whom it trades, and it has increased its core business group from about seven or eight countries to over 25. New trade lanes and diplomatic channels have been opened, and business within Qatar has found new partners in new geopolitical locations. Even if problems continue within the GCC, Qatar now has much broader trade, which is a great development. The types of relationships have also expanded, for example with Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, and India. Europe has always had a strong relationship with Qatar, and the UK recently announced a joint squadron with the Qatari air force. The US also has one of its largest bases in the region in Qatar. Similarly, Turkey also has a base here and both countries continue to enjoy a historic, strategic relationship. Before the blockade, the average monthly container throughput was close to 40,000TEUs, and after the blockade, we are at about 110,000TEUs, an increase of over 2.5 times. We could not have done this without our staff, who have stepped up and delivered a fantastic level of service.
How will the Expansion Phase II of the port advance the positioning of Hamad Port internationally?
CT1 is becoming extremely busy, therefore, we need to expand the container handling capacity in Hamad Port, and the easiest way to do that is by developing Container Terminal 2 (CT2). We plan to build a similar conventional operation in CT2 to maximize synergies between the two terminals. With both CT1 and CT2 operational, we will be able to handle the domestic import increase YoY. Qatar's GDP is increasing, and its disposable income is also growing. As a rule of thumb, we generally multiply GDP by 1.5 in order to make a rough estimate for the percentage increase in containerized and non-containerized throughput in Hamad Port. We are developing Hamad Port as a transshipment hub and have already transshipped containers via Hamad Port to other locations such as Iraq, Kuwait, and the Sub-Continent.
What are the priorities for QTerminals in 2019?
Our priority is to consolidate and strengthen delivery of services in Hamad Port, which is our benchmark and home port. We want to ensure that everything is stable and services are delivered to the highest standards. One of our projects moving forward is to expand overseas. Our clients are pleased with QTerminals and Hamad Port and are familiar with our quality, and as long as we can take that excellence overseas, they would be happy to work with us. We are proud to play a part in the diplomatic drive to create new partnerships and trade lines and participate in developing the Qatari brand overseas. In terms of its own business development, Qatar has done extremely well. The business community has adapted well, and moving forward, QTerminals will continue to play a leading role in enabling and facilitating trade with Qatar.