New port will open world of opportunity
By Meera Ravi  »  One of the major pioneering projects that should substantially contribute to industrial growth in the country is the Bahrain Industrial Wharf (BIW). Built on partly reclaimed land covering an area of 170 hectares, the project's aim is to attract large and small manufacturing and services enterprises. It will also contain commercial and administrative units and residential quarters for labour working in this investment complex.

Alongside this project, is the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP), planned to be ready by the end of 2008. Nurtured by the dynamic Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, President of Customs and Chairman of General Organization of Sea Ports, the new port is at the centre of a whole new development grid that includes a new bridge and a dual three-lane highway to connect both ports and ease the traffic flow between them.

The site of the port was chosen to be located near the new industrial areas, in particular the Bahrain Industrial Investment Park (BIIP) which has been designed and marketed to attract export oriented high-tech industries.

Moreover, to improve the effeciency in both ports, their operations were privatised and APM Terminals Bahrain has won the contract to operate both ports on behalf of the government of Bahrain. This is the biggest privitisation deal in Bahrain and reflects the seriousness of the government in its reform programmes.

“When the government decided to set up the Khalifa bin Salman Port, its main objectives included making KBSP the principal port for local Bahrain trade and a major logistics centre, in particular for upper Gulf traffic,” explained Shaikh Daij. “The port will be a feeder port to the ports in the Gulf and provide easy access to the Saudi hinterland.”

With its world class facility, high level of efficiency in port operations and the hi-tech equipment used, KBSP will help to redirect a major portion of the upper Gulf traffic towards Bahrain.

The KBSP project was a result of many years of research and was taken up due to increased economic and foreign trade activities and a significant rise in shipping traffic through Bahrain. KBSP is a multi-terminal and multi-functional terminal for container and general cargo.


“The operating company, APM Terminals Bahrain (APMTB), which has taken over the operations in Mina Salman and KBSP, has accommodated a very high percentage of local manpower and continues to recruit from the local market. There is a plan to raise the quality of manpower to high international standards and to make the operations very competitive,” said Shaikh Daij.

“APMTB will provide the operational equipment for the port. It is proposed that the container terminal will operate four-Post-Panamax gantry cranes and a Rubber Tyre Gantry container management system, thereby maximizing space utilization, enabling the terminal to handle a substantial increase in the total annual throughput.

“On completion, KBSP will be one of the most modern ports in the Gulf and will be able to handle container ships with an efficiency matching that of the most productive ports in the world. With efficient operations, fast turn-around times for vessels and short transit times, Bahrain will be an ideal location for carriers to transship containers for all destinations in the Upper Gulf.”

Not one to do anything by the half-measure, Shaikh Daij pointed out that the study initiative during the process of privatizing the port operations has predicted a huge increase in the scale of port operations which are expected to grow by about 100% in the first five years after the opening of the KBSP.

This will be achieved largely by attracting increased transshipment business, he said.

With enhanced facilities such as these, businessmen in Bahrain are currently working to lay the foundation for enhanced trade with America as the effects of the FTA take hold late in 2007. Bahrain will certainly make use of its first mover status among GCC countries to develop into an industrial and business hub and serve as a conduit for Bahraini-GCC-American trade ties.

Currently, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is working to familiarize Bahrain-based businesses with the requirements of the vast US market and the benefits offered in the form of incentives, tax holidays etc.

“The current reform initiatives will continue to impart more transparency and hence efficiency in our institutions including legal, financial, banking and others and better governance to all our public and private enterprises and institutions,” said Industry Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro.

“This will be necessary especially in the light of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA. We trust we will come up to the expectations of our partners in the US to encourage its industrial and business sectors to make Bahrain a hub and a centre of their global value-chain and produce their goods and services not only for local consumption but more so for regional and international distribution.”