The Business Year

Martijn Van De Linde

UAE, ABU DHABI - Transport

The Automatic Effect

CEO, Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT)


Martijn Van De Linde was appointed CEO of Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) in 2010. He currently leads ADT’s management and the operation of the Khalifa Port Container Terminal, the most technologically advanced and first semi-automated port in the region. He also oversees ADT’s management and operation of other Abu Dhabi-based ports: Mina Zayed, the main gateway for cargo in Abu Dhabi; and Musaffah Port, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s industrial area. Prior to joining ADT, he was CEO of the Port of Salalah in Oman. He also held the post of Vice-President of Global Operations for APM Terminals and was Terminal Manager at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia.

What does the opening of the new Khalifa Port signify for Abu Dhabi? It marks a new era, and a new phase in social and economic development. Until Mina Zayed, […]

What does the opening of the new Khalifa Port signify for Abu Dhabi?

It marks a new era, and a new phase in social and economic development. Until Mina Zayed, access to Abu Dhabi’s economy had been limited. There were no means of transportation other than overland or by air. Mina Zayed signaled the first signs of significant economic growth. Then, Khalifa Port was opened due to capacity growth and urban planning issues, as port infrastructure had to relocate. Over the past four to five years, compound growth has accelerated. Considering Abu Dhabi in 2005-2006, it increased to around 250,000 TEUs a year. Over the past six years, measured annual compound growth has seen more than a 20% annual increase. It is somewhat disconnected from the global economic environment and is largely driven by successful economic policies. The different sectors that we are actively involved in—tourism, oil and gas, steel, and transport, to name a few—are driving investment in infrastructure and also into the establishment of basic industries. Previously, everything was imported and nothing was made locally. Yet, today, our industries are starting to produce steel, plastic, aluminum, and pharmaceuticals. Growth is driven by exports rather than imports. Our productivity is higher per crane, per unit, and per hour than that of a normal, traditional manual port. We turn trucks around much faster than any other port in the region. It takes us just 15 minutes or so to get a truck in, loaded, and out—a normal port would take around 1-2 hours. By going to Khalifa Port, you can deploy a truck 10 times a day, so you can move 10 containers instead of two. For trucking companies, this means increased revenues and optimized assets.

What trends have you noticed in the amount of export cargo handling in recent years?

In addition to a solid 20% growth rate for several years, we are still growing now despite the fact that most countries around us have contracted. More is produced here so there are fewer finished products and more raw materials being imported. We see bulk cargo increasing, and we see exports on containers increasing because more products are being made here and exported. At the same time, because of active investment in infrastructure, there is more project cargo, such as heat exchanges, pipes, and other large goods used to build factories or power plants.

Abu Dhabi terminals recently reached an agreement to offer a direct link to India; what does this mean for Khalifa Port?

There has been historic trade between the UAE and India. It is necessary for us to have direct connections there from Khalifa Port and back just to support trade here. Every time we expand the amount of destinations we reach from the port, we enhance the network. The bigger the network, the more attractive we are as a port.

How will Khalifa Port contribute to Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030?

There is a policy of diversifying the economy away from oil and gas dependency. If you look at the GDP figures over 2012, non-oil GDP has been growing much faster than oil GDP, so it is working. We are growing industries that were not here before. The port was only there to serve the local market in the past. Now, we are building a business, which is not only related to Abu Dhabi, but other destinations as well—in a word, transshipment. There is a lot of revenue that the port will drive that was not captive for Abu Dhabi before. We are contributing to the sector already.



You may also be interested in...


UAE, ABU DHABI - Health & Education

Peter Zemsky & Roger Bassoul


Executive Director & Deputy Dean, INSEAD

Adib Moukheiber


Adib Moukheiber


General Manager, Zaya Nurai Island

Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri

UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Green Economy

Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri


Secretary General, Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD)

View All interviews