Saudi Arabia is planning to expand its ports handling capacity by around 29 million tons to face a steady rise in demand, the head of the ports authority in the kingdom was reported as saying.
"The projects include the construction of 20new quays which will be ready for operation within two years to boost the existing capacity of 208 quays," Musaed Al Darees, general manager of the Saudi Ports Authority told the Arabic language daily Al Watan.
The new projects, to be launched shortly, will raise the combined capacity of the Western Red Sea port of Jeddah and other sea ports in the world's largest oil exporter to nearly 500 million tons a year from the current 471 million tons.
Al Darees did not mention the actual cost of the project, but said the new developments are within an overall expansion plan for the country's ports, in a bid to respond to "a steady increase in business and demand."
Besides quays, the new projects comprise the construction of more stores, importation of new equipment and services, and introduction of advanced technology.
"The authority is working with the private sector to carry out projects aimed at bolstering the capacity of the Kingdom's ports to stimulate sea trade and boost confidence in our ports," Al Darees said without elaborating on the private sector's role.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest markets in the Middle East, with its imports receipts of goods and services standing at nearly $211 billion in 2012, according to the Kuwaiti-based Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation, a key Arab League establishment.
The Kingdom's exports of goods and services were estimated at about $410 billion last year, representing nearly 28 percent of the total exports in the Arab region.
The Saudi Gazette