TBY talks to Mohammed Al Muallem, Senior Vice-President & Managing Director of DP World, UAE Region, on the World Expo 2020 bid and Jebel Ali's central position in the company's international activities.

Mohammed Al Muallem
A veteran of port terminal operations and management, Mohammed Al Muallem, became Senior Vice President and Managing Director of DP World UAE Region in 2005. He has spearheaded the development of the Jebel Ali Port, the flagship of DP World, ranked among the world’s top 10 ports. In 2003, Al Muallem pioneered the use of the Quad Lift Gantry, capable of lifting four 20 feet containers or two 40 feet containers simultaneously. Al Muallem was appointed Chairman of the Executive Merging Team of Dubai Ports Authority, Dubai Customs and the Free Zone in 2000, and in May 2004, Executive Coordinator for the Terminal 2 development at Jebel Ali Port. Among numerous qualifications Mohammed Al Muallem holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering.

How will the vision to further develop infrastructure in combination with the World Expo 2020 bid impact Dubai's logistics industry?

From day one, Dubai was built on trade, and the vision has always been to facilitate and expand the Emirate as a business base. Dubai has always led the region with this vision, even as far back as 100 years ago. Dubai seeks to create a platform for business people to do business with minimum bureaucracy and maximum efficiency and speed. As part of the supply chain and the logistics industry here—and it's truly a huge industry—we want to contribute our share to building a platform in which business runs as easily and smoothly as possible through a multitude of platforms. Dubai is all about trade and services. Our task is to make sure Dubai keeps going forward and remains a worldwide hub for trade and services, serving a region of nearly 2 billion inhabitants. In terms of World Expo 2020, an Expo needs the efficient and effective logistics and transport platform to be successful, as it involves more than 25 million visitors in six months, and thousands of companies setting up activities. We are working hard to make sure that this is being facilitated in the most efficient way possible. Thus, we are building infrastructure, integrating processes, developing technology, and doing everything in our power to make sure that whenever there is demand for moving and transporting goods, be it by land, sea, or air, we are there to take care of it in the most efficient manner.

What is the significance of Dubai as a logistics hub for DP World's activities?

Jebel Ali is the flagship port of DP World, and the success of DP World is based on the success of Dubai. The Emirate's mindset and ours is the same—it's about providing the best business practices. We were even asked by our customers' shipping lines to extend our operations beyond Dubai because they needed the same philosophy that Dubai and DP World followed to be extended and applied in other places—they could see the value that this unique mindset and philosophy added to their businesses. We met the requirements of our customers, and that is what this business is all about. Now, DP World has a portfolio of more than 65 marine terminals across six continents, including new developments underway in India, Africa, Europe, South America, and the Middle East. When people hear that we're from Dubai, they are interested in us. Customers come to us and ask us to handle or examine their port because they know the success that we've brought about here in Dubai. In 2012, we handled 13.3 million TEUs at Jebel Ali Port, which is huge in comparison to the population of Dubai or the UAE as a whole. These containers are serviced and transported to other regions, countries, and cities in the GCC, the Gulf region, India, Central Asia, East Africa, and beyond. Dubai has become an international hub; both passengers and cargo are arriving and passing through. The biggest businesses and new businesses have a presence or are setting up shop in Dubai, because it is in the right location between East and West, North and South.

How is the maritime industry beginning to change?

The industry is mainly driven by the transport and shipping industry, but the dynamics are now changing, and the shipping sector is changing along with it. Ships today are massive. Whereas a ship from 1991 could carry only 6,000 containers, today there are ships that can carry 18,000 containers. As these ships today have become bigger, they have also become longer to the point where they can only access certain ports that have the capacity—ports like Jebel Ali. By 2014, if 10 of those 18,000 TEU ships arrive—the largest ships in the world—we can handle them all simultaneously at Jebel Ali Port. We handle more than 170 shipping lines where more than 90 plus weekly services connecting the Jebel Ali port to over 100 ports worldwide.