New Saudi megaport to be one of world's biggest

Port will from part of King Abdullah Economic City, which will be bigger than US capital Washington DC

A satellite image of the King Abdullah Port. Image: Google
A satellite image of the King Abdullah Port. Image: Google

A new megaport at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Economic City aims to take business away from Dubai's Jebel Ali by offering a quicker and cheaper service.

Officials behind the KAEC, one of four new cities approved by the late monarch King Abdullah said freight destined for Riyadh will be shipped directly to the new port instead of Dubai where it currently goes.

"At the moment lots of products destined for Riyadh are shipped to Dubai, but that will change. They'll be shipped here as it is cheaper - and can be delivered more quickly within the kingdom," said Rayan Bukhari, a manager at the King Abdullah port in comments published by the BBC.

At 182km2 KAEC will eventually be a metropolis slightly larger than Washington DC.

"We aim to create one of the world's largest ports," he told the BBC, adding: "We're not competing with Jeddah's Islamic port - but we are going to take business away from Jebel Ali in Dubai. That's because of our quicker, more automated offloading and customs procedure."

The King Abdullah Port is just part of the KAEC story. Encircling the port is the city’s Industrial Valley, while further afield are areas set aside for residential communities, tech clusters, universities, hospitals and so on.

On the eastern side of the city will be its second major link to the outside world, the Haramain Station. When that is opened, the city will become one of four stops on Saudi Arabia’s latest high-speed rail network, linking the megaproject with Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.

The government has set up an Economic Cities Authority overseeing all four megacities and dealing with every licence, construction permit and approval needed from different ministries.

So far only 15% of the city has been developed - industrial estates, residential districts and public facilities are currently under construction.

Construction of the first deep water quay wall commenced at the King Abdullah Port in early 2013, and the project took just four months to complete. The port began trial operations in September 2013 when commercial vessels started using the first 500m of berth. Capable of handling an initial 1.7 million containers per year, it will significantly reduce traffic congestion on the roads surrounding the nearby Jeddah Port.


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