Mohammed Al Muallem, SVP and Managing Director, DP World UAE Region

The VP and MD of DP World in the UAE talks about its tank container business and the Dubai Logistics Corridor

Q: Can you give a brief summary of container figures through Dubai ports in the past year? What do you predict for the coming year?

A: In 2011 we delivered volume growth of 12% year on year, handling 13.0 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent container units) in the UAE region.

As we look ahead, we remain confident about the long term outlook for our industry. Strong volume growth continued in the first three months of 2012, with our UAE region handling 3.2 million TEU, 8.5% ahead of the same period last year.

Q: Have there been any significant changes in trading patterns and regions into and out of the UAE?

A: The pattern has remained reasonably consistent over the past few years. India continues to be the UAE’s largest trading partner. From our perspective as a port operator, we are seeing increasing numbers of the new generation mega-vessels using Jebel Ali as a gateway and hub to serve the wider region.

To accommodate regional volume growth and to ensure that  Jebel Ali port will continue to serve as the gateway port of choice to handle cargo destined for the Middle East, India and Africa regions, we have embarked on both a major expansion of our current terminal 2 as well as the construction of a  new terminal, Terminal 3, taking capacity to 19m TEU by 2014. The expansion also enabled Jebel Ali to receive the next generation of mega container ships, each of which can carry as many as 18,000 containers.

Today, Jebel Ali provides a sea-land-air transport link with the Dubai Logistics Corridor linking the port to the Dubai World Central airport, just 20 minutes away. Customers benefit from single window e-clearance services, including customs, and slash transit time for their freight.

The integrated multi-modal cargo transport process is a logical step forward in Dubai’s continuous evolution as one of the finest trading hubs in the world.

It has taken another leap forward with the planned UAE national railway network, Etihad Rail, which will be linked to Jebel Ali port.

Q: The GPCA conference was focused on supply chain optimizstion. What link in the supply chain is the most challenging in your opinion?

Growth in volume, especially in the downstream products is outpacing the growth of logistical infrastructure, which encompasses purpose built state-of-art warehousing, embracing global best practices and optimisation of technology to truly make the supply chain seamless.  This, to the region, remains the biggest potential challenge in the next few years.

Q: Specifically, in terms of Bulk Distributor’s readership – are you seeing growing numbers of tank containers being exported from the UAE through your terminals?

A: Growth in our tank container throughput has been in line with our YOY container  growth.

Q: Are there any specific issues relating to the handling and/or stacking of tank containers through your terminals?

A: We have a purpose-built yard stack for storage of tanks, provide cleaning facilities and have a procedure in place for leaking containers.