What are the differentiating aspects of Ras Al Khaimah's maritime sector?
Ras Al Khaimah is an excellent manufacturing-based Emirate. In terms of cargo volume, the market generates upward of 300,000TEUs and is growing. The potential in this regard is huge. In the past, everyone in the market had to use land transportation to bring their cargo to and from Dubai's Jebel Ali Port for export and import; however, we are now working to export and import more cargo from Saqr Port. In order to achieve this, we have to serve the local market better, both in terms of efficiency and cost benefits for customers. Our main objective—and the directive of the Ras Al Khaimah government—is to have the all of the Emirate's cargo handled at its own ports. It is a straightforward goal, and it is the right direction to take for the greater economic development of Ras Al Khaimah. We are highly committed and dedicating significant resources to achieving this goal. Namely, we are investing in our people and equipment. We are also installing Hutchison Ports' very own terminal operation system.
To what extent are companies willing to change their port of call from Jebel Ali to Saqr Port?
Companies understand the range of benefits of using Ras Al Khaimah's own port and are interested in this alternative. Indeed, within a few short months, we have managed to significantly expand the customer base of the port and are keen to continue this trend going forward. For most shippers, cost is paramount; therefore, our task is to help firms understand the cost savings of moving cargo from Saqr Port. We have already arranged a feeder from Saqr Port to Jebel Ali. Instead of moving thousands of TEU via truck from Jebel Ali, we can now consolidate them and send them by feeder. It is much more economical, and is arguably more environmentally friendly. Considering the restrictions on road usage for heavy trucks, it is also more convenient for all those involved. Shippers can save money and avoid road restrictions. A regular and high-quality feeder connection makes this possible. Previously, there was only one feeder per month, which was highly inadequate. With nine terminals in the region, Hutchison Ports has an extensive network and strong relationships with numerous feeder companies and global carriers. We are pleased that the local government is inclined toward sustainable economic development. With this support, we are bringing people together and directly engaging end-users to ensure we can meet their needs. These users require world-class terminal solutions with a high level of customer service, all at competitive rates. Thus, we have our work cut out for us; however, beyond the end user, there are other stakeholders at the port that we must serve, including shipping lines, the cargo carrying agent, and so on. We must ensure that, if the entire process saves money, every stakeholder benefits. Otherwise, no one would be willing to challenge the status quo.
How do you compare logistics between China and Ras Al Khaimah?
With much of the world's manufacturing taking place in China, the country has managed to revolutionize its logistics industry. Since Hutchison Ports was a player in this transformation, we hope to play a similar positive role in the UAE's development. The UAE is a unique market and, with three terminals in the country, we see great potential. Similar to our river terminals in China, each of our UAE terminals is in a unique position to serve the local market in its respective Emirate. In this regard, we are striving to build a better logistics platform for end-users in each distinct market. The situation is similar to that of Shanghai, a city that handles a huge volume of 40 million TEUs, and that of Ningbo, which handles about 26 million TEUs. The market size might be different, though the dynamics are extremely similar.