The inspirational concept that led to the creation of King Abdullah Port was the visionary realization that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia needed a world-class port capable of receiving today’s mega cargo ships in order to handle the increasing number of imports necessary to fulfill the growing needs of the young and fast-growing population, while also facilitating increased exports to global markets. Today, the far-sighted concept of the port is completely aligned with the government’s Vision 2030 for a thriving economy that is based on diversification and is not oil-dependent, boosting the Kingdom’s competitive role.
King Abdullah Port is located on one of the busiest trade routes, the Red Sea, in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), 90 km to the north of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city. Occupying a total area of 17.4 km2, the port is a key element in the extensive transportation network that enables the distribution of goods to a market of nearly 400 million consumers throughout the entire MENA region and East Africa.
King Abdullah Port is adjacent to KAEC’s Industrial Valley and the Bonded & Re-Export Zone. It has direct uninterrupted access to the main highways linking it to Holy Makkah and Madinah, in addition to Jeddah, the main trade center in the Kingdom. Furthermore, the port is in close proximity to the industrial cities of Rabigh and Yanbu, which experience remarkable trade in the petrochemical industry.
The groundbreaking for King Abdullah Port, the Middle East’s first privately owned, developed and operated port, and one of the region’s largest private infrastructure projects, took place in 2010. Since its inception, King Abdullah Port has made steady progress toward meeting its goal of becoming a major hub and a vital contributor to the Kingdom’s global role in trade, logistics and shipping. It initiated transshipment operations in September 2013, and full operations in January 2014.
Today, with enhanced capabilities, King Abdullah Port is achieving key milestones in terms of overall project development and operations. It also joined the club of the world’s top 100 container ports in 2016, less than four years from the beginning of operations, ranked 73rd among Alphaliner’s list of the 100 largest ports in the world in 2021.
Additionally, King Abdullah Port has the world’s deepest 18-meter water berths - which applies to all its 30 berths - equipped with state-of-the-art cranes that are among the most sophisticated in the world, providing a major boost to operations. As a result, the Port has been able to partner with the largest container shipping companies, including two of the world’s biggest: Maersk and MSC.
The presence of the food and pharmaceuticals sector at King Abdullah Port is also expanding. Enormous reefer racks along with temperature-controlled storage facilities have been installed and the Saudi Food & Drug Authority has established facilities at the port along with more than 17 other governmental entities. Moreover, Almarai, the region’s leading dairy manufacturer, has opted to make King Abdullah Port its base of operations in Saudi Arabia and the region. The decision of this regional powerhouse is another significant vote of confidence for King Abdullah Port.
King Abdullah Port is carefully proceeding with the implementation of its roll-on/roll-off (RORO) plans, which include the construction of five RORO berths. Once fully operational, these berths will provide a total capacity of 1.5 million CEU per year, making King Abdullah Port the regional leader in RORO cargo. When fully built, King Abdullah Port will also be able to handle 25 million TEU and 25 million tons of bulk cargo every year.
The port achieved double-digit growth in 2021 with an outstanding 31% rise in container throughput. This can be attributed to King Abdullah Port’ state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities built to global standards, market-leading service offerings, and efficient operations as well as its highly efficient public-private partnership business model.
2021 also saw King Abdullah Port’s strategic partnership with Maersk Saudi Arabia come to fruition with the establishment of Maersk Integrated Logistics Hub, the shipping industry leader’s first petrochemical hub in the Kingdom. This hub aims to meet several vital logistical requirements for exporters who already have access to Maersk’s solutions such as landside movement of cargo, customs clearance, and ocean logistics, thus ensuring a truly integrated logistics offering. The hub serves as the focal supply chain solution, primarily for Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical exporters, through the large space allocated for handling and storing cargo.
In 2022 King Abdullah Port cemented its standing as a leading container port globally, reaching its aforementioned 15 million TEU milestone in a record time of under 9 years since the commencement of the ports container terminal operations.
A month later, King Abdullah Port was ranked first among the most efficient container ports in the world on the 2021 Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) report published by The World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence. The port improved its ranking from second place last year after achieving the highest points among 443 ports on both the administrative and statistical methodological approaches of the index.
On the business enhancement front, the constantly developing Port Community System, a computerized information system present at King Abdullah Port, provides easy access to information that enables efficient business operations. To further facilitate efficiency, Saudi Customs is establishing a larger presence, which contributes to eliminating any unnecessary delays in processing cargo. The dwell time of incoming containers at King Abdullah Port has been reduced to 3.7 days, and work is underway to further reduce this to 3 days. In addition, King Abdullah Port became a pioneer in activating the 24-hour container inspection initiative; the first to implement this initiative in Saudi Arabia. As a further improvement to reducing dwell time, the implementation of the Smart Gate system facilitates the process of cargo entry and exit automatically, in addition to pre-booking services for delivering and receiving goods, contributing to effective operations.
King Abdullah Port has a distinguished track record of attracting the best talents and competencies, and focuses on the professional development, personal progress and job satisfaction of its staff through intensive and continuous training programs, which enhances its ability to provide high-quality services.
Empowerment of women is a priority, and, to that end, King Abdullah Port already employs more than 80 women in its operations center, administration, IT and engineering, all working at optimum efficiency in a unique, dedicated environment.
Looking ahead to a thriving and prosperous future, King Abdullah Port is well on the way to establishing itself as a prime hub on the main East-West shipping route between Europe, Asia and Africa, given that more than 13% of all global trade passes through the Red Sea, to provide world-class logistics support for clients and enable them to achieve their desired growth.