Exciting changes are happening in Abu Dhabi

A massive five-year infrastructure project has just come to fruition with the opening of Khalifa Port. As the main gateway into Abu Dhabi, it will be capable of handling 15 million containers by 2030.


September sees the commencement of commercial operations at Khalifa Port, Abu Dhabi’s new terminal for all container traffic in Taweelah, located about 40 kilometers further north. The move comes just in time as Mina Zayed Port is expected to reach its storage capacity before the end of this year.

All containers will be routed to Khalifa by early 2013 and Mina Zayed will be converted into the country’s main cruise liner terminal.

Khalifa Port and its associated Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Abu Dhabi. The offshore port was constructed on an island and over five years of land reclamation, dredging and building has produced one of the most advanced port terminals in the region.

With its 16 meter draft and 4 kilometer quay wall, Khalifa is capable of accommodating the largest container ships currently afloat. The offshore area extends over 2.7 square kilometers.

The masterplan is to create an industrial and manufacturing hub at Kizad that extends for 417 square kilometers, making it four times larger than Abu Dhabi Island, two-thirds of the land area of Singapore and one quarter of Greater London. By 2030 the port will have the capacity to handle 15 million containers. It is estimated that Mina Zayed Port will receive up to 800,000 containers by the end of this year, reaching the limit of its capacity. Fortunately this is exactly the time when the transfer to the new port begins. Khalifa’s Terminal 1 is already equipped to handle 2.5 million containers and a second terminal can be rapidly activated (by adding cranes) to increase this capacity by a further 2.5 million containers.

The whole KIZAD development is a bold step for the UAE. Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, said: “Khalifa Port embodies the commitment of the wise leadership towards establishing vital drivers of economic growth which will boost economic and commercial sectors.”

The goal for the industrial hub is to represent 15 per cent of the non-oil GDP of Abu Dhabi by 2030. Taweelah already has a major power plant that ensures uninterrupted power to the port.

There are exciting changes planned as well for Mina Zayed. Ideally located in the heart of the city, this port will be converted into a dedicated cruise liner terminal to help to build the cruise industry, which is another major pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030. The port will continue to handle general cargo.

On an environmental note, it is gratifying that nature assets have not been prejudiced with Khalifa. The developers of Khalifa Port built the Environmental Protection Breakwater, an eight kilometer arm that curls around the port and protects the Ras Ghanada coral reef.