TBY talks to Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World, on the creation of DP World, its international capacity, and the London Gateway project.

HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation, and Chairman of DP World has comprehensively spearheaded the rapid expansion of Dubai’s infrastructure. He was also central in developing the infrastructure supporting Dubai’s tourism industry. Some highlights of his business career include: Leading DP World’s international expansion, including the purchase of the P&O group for $6.8 billion, rendering it the fourth largest global port operator in the world. Overseeing the rapid development of the Jebel Ali Free Zone and establishing its global arm, Jafza International. Establishing and leading Nakheel, a key real estate and tourism property development firm. Establishing and leading Istithmar World, a major investment house with a portfolio of investments in diverse sectors. Pioneering the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).

What factors led to the successful creation of this international hub in just a few decades?

Maritime trade has been at the heart of Dubai for generations upon generations, and it was only natural that the Emirate focus its energies on this core strength, fueled by the trust, support, and encouragement provided by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Both he and his father realized very early that Dubai could succeed by leveraging its geographical location at the crossroads of East-West trade and offering outstanding supply chain services that would ensure it became a hub. Focusing on customers and investing to ensure that their growing needs are met has driven our international expansion. To date, we are operating more than 60 marine terminals around the world with a global team of 30,000 personnel.

What is the focus of DP World's 11 new projects, and what do they represent for the future of the company?

We invest in markets where we see the potential to contribute to economic growth. With an average concession of around 40 years, we invest for the long term. Around 75% of our business comes from emerging markets, which have proven resilient during the global recession. Currently, three-quarters of the cargo we handle originates from or is destined for the markets in which we operate, known as origin and destination (O&D) cargo. We will continue to focus on these two areas in the future, investing in direct response to our customers' needs. In 2011, we saw volumes in the UAE region rise to 13 million TEUs. This means that utilization is extremely high at our flagship Jebel Ali Port, which has continued to deliver strong volume growth and handled 3.2 million TEUs in the first three months of 2012, 8.5% ahead of the same period last year. It was clear from listening to our customers that growth in demand would mean Jebel Ali would soon be under considerable capacity. It was this that led us to announce plans last year to add 1 million TEUs to Terminal 2 to take its capacity to 6 million TEUs, and to develop a new terminal, Terminal 3, at an investment of $850 million, with the capacity for 4 million TEUs. Together they will take Jebel Ali's total capacity to 19 million TEUs by 2014. The new Terminal 3 will be capable of receiving the next generation of mega container ships that can carry as many as 18,000 TEUs, support the continued growth of Dubai and the UAE, and enhance the country's status as the trading center of the Middle East. Al Maktoum International Airport is just 20 minutes away from Jebel Ali Port, providing the supply chain sector with one of the most efficient multimodal platforms anywhere. While we are adding significant capacity to Jebel Ali over the coming two years, building a new terminal in Brazil and expanding our capacity in China, we are also pushing ahead with London Gateway and the new Maaslvakte 2 terminal in the Netherlands.

How is the development of the London Gateway port project progressing? What makes this market attractive for DP World?

London Gateway is progressing extremely well and will be open for business by 4Q2013, with an initial capacity of 1.6 million TEUs. Like all of our projects, we are investing for the long term. London Gateway is set to become Europe's largest logistics park, situated on London's doorstep and located at the heart of Europe's largest economic zone. It will benefit businesses in the UK immensely by allowing both importers and exporters to take advantage of a more cost effective and greener way to transport the nation's goods as well as saving hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

How key are strong security measures in DP World's daily operations?

We regard security as a baseline service for our customers. The nature of our operations exposes us to various operational, health, safety, and security risks that can impact our people, our customers, and our business operations. To mitigate such risks, we have implemented stringent security, safety, and health measures, including rolling out the independently audited ISO 28000 security management standards throughout our network. Currently, 38 of our facilities are certified. We are the only global marine terminal operator to be invited to become a member of the US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and we have 15 terminals participating in the US Customs Container Security Initiative—the largest number among the other operators. We are also a Principal Partner in the US Integrated container-scanning pilot projects. Furthermore, we adhere to European security measures.