Saqr Port is the largest of five ports in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and the largest dry bulk commodities port in the region. Recent infrastructure expansion and new partnerships promise to increase the 60 million tons of cargo currently handled by the port on an annual basis.
The port is located within close proximity of the Hajar Mountains and the large volumes of ceramics, aggregate, cement, limestone, crushed rock, and other construction materials produced in the Emirate’s well-established quarrying industry.
Exports of these construction materials have sustained the growth and expansion of Saqr Port through large construction projects in the GCC and further afield. Construction materials from the Emirate’s quarries have been used for the development of the Burj Khalifa and other key projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Beyond the UAE, large quantities of bulk cargo have been exported through Saqr Port for infrastructure projects in Bahrain and steel plants in India.
Large-scale developments in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, as well as expected construction projects in the run up to Expo 2020, present continuing opportunities for the quarrying industry and an increase in bulk exports through the port.
In 2017, the port authority, RAK Ports, announced that it had begun work on a EUR75-million expansion aimed at increasing the port’s bulk handling capacity. The Saqr Port expansion will be realized in two phases with completion planned for August 2018 and March 2019. It includes the construction of 700m of additional quay wall providing two deepwater berths capable of handling capesize vessels, and the purchase of two additional bulk handling cranes. This expansion will increase the number of bulk handling berths from eight to 10.
In addition to bulk cargo handling, the port includes a number of container storage and shipping facilities. Promising enhanced efficiency, the world’s largest terminal operator, Hutchison Ports, was granted a 25-year concession to operate and develop Saqr Port’s container terminal.
Hutchison brings with it experience in handling 13% of the world’s container traffic, operating in some of the busiest container ports in the world. Its experience, skilled workforce, and services are expected to unlock the full potential of the Emirate and its rapidly developing economy. In Ras Al Khaimah, the operator offers container handling, cargo handling, and refrigerated container handling services in addition to warehousing and LCL services.
The container terminal operated by Hutchison Ports RAK offers four berths along an 800-m quay dredged to a depth of 12.2m, in addition to the 10 bulk handling berths that will be fully operational following the expansion. The port includes 42,000sqm of covered warehousing and an 84ha yard. Its neighbor, RAK Maritime City Free Zone, covers an area of 8 million sqm and is divided into plots starting at 25,000sqm in size.
Historically, most goods for export were shipped via Jebel Ali Port or Dubai International Airport after being transported via road. The port expansion and appointment of Hutchison Ports RAK is expected to introduce new opportunities through greater efficiencies and cost reductions for goods shipped through Ras Al Khaimah. The higher capacity for goods export is complemented by efforts undertaken to increase industrial output.
Being located within 25km of the city center and near the RAKEZ free zones,which include the Al Hamra and Al Ghail Industrial Zones, Saqr Port provides manufacturers with a cost effective and less congested route for shipping to Jebel Ali and beyond.
The government of Ras Al Khaimah undertook the first steps toward improving the capacity and capability of Saqr Port during 2017. Expanding the port entrenches its regional importance in dry bulk commodity transportation, and its appointment of Hutchison Ports RAK promises to increase the export of goods from its growing industrial sector. Less congestion and lower costs make the port an attractive alternative to others in the region, and an effective alternative to shipping goods via road.