The Business of Water



The Business of Water


The Business of Water

Dubai Creek once served as Dubai’s main commercial gateway, and was at the heart of the city’s pearling industry. While traditional dhows are now a less common sight on the […]

Dubai Creek once served as Dubai’s main commercial gateway, and was at the heart of the city’s pearling industry. While traditional dhows are now a less common sight on the creek, they once brought goods to the inlet’s ports from as far away as India and East Africa. Dubai Creek is also significant as the area in which members of the Bani Yas tribe first settled in the 1800s, establishing the Al Maktoum dynasty. Today, dhows have been mostly replaced by modern cargo ships, the handling of which Dubai has developed an increasing capability—when Terminal 3 of Jebel Ali Port, located to the south west of the creek, is completed in 2014, capacity at the facility will total 19 million TEUs, and make the port one of the world’s five largest. The development of Dubai Maritime City (DMC) alongside Drydocks World will also boost the Emirate’s ship repair capacity through 2.16 million sqm of reclaimed land.

The development of the maritime sector is also advancing under the Maritime Sector Strategy (MSS), which was drawn up with the assistance of the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), an agency established to monitor, develop, and promote maritime activities. The MSS is aimed at enhancing the regulatory environment in the maritime sector, as well as overseeing its continued development and promotion. “DMCA is the gateway to Dubai’smaritime sector,” said Executive Director Amer Ali, adding “it is clear that things will continue to expand… we realize that there is huge growth coming our way and that there will be more traffic.”


Port Rashid, located at the mouth of Dubai Creek, served as Dubai’s main port until the 1970s, when it was joined by Jebel Ali Port. Today, Port Rashid is mainly used as a cruise terminal, a sector that is expected to generate AED1 billion per year for the Emirate by 2020—in 2012-2013, 115 cruise ships are expected to bring a total of more than 400,000 tourists to the Emirate. Jebel Ali Port, on the other hand, now serves as Dubai’s primary cargo port, and is located southwest of Port Rashid. Recent dredging work has expanded capacity by 1 million TEUs to 16 million TEUs overall. Expansion work is also underway on Terminal 3, which will see capacity boosted again, this time to 19 million TEUs, when the project is finished in 2014.


DMC, located on 2.16 million sqm of reclaimed land, is a free zone under development as the ship repair unit of Dubai World. Expected to be fully complete by late 2013, DMC is located on a peninsula between Port Rashid and Drydocks World. The DMC project is growing in three phases, the first of which was a marina operation. Phase II involved the construction of additional infrastructure, while Phase III includes the finalization of the commercial side of the city. DMC will service the mid-sized segment, while larger vessels are accommodated at neighboring Drydocks World. Not simply a base for ship repair facilities, DMC will also house other workings of the maritime and ship repair business, including industrial, operation, services, commercial, academic, residential, and lifestyle components, and is expected to recoup its investment within five years of completion.


With 60% of the world’s top 100 super yachts owned by Middle East residents, as well as 60%-70% of the Gulf region’s leisure boats built in the UAE, the segment plays a meaningful part in Dubai’s total maritime sector.

The 21st annual Dubai International Boat Show was the Emirate’s chance to once again show off its sailing credentials. The event drew 750 companies and brands from 49 countries and thousands of visitors. First time appearances were made by Armenia, Belgium, Malaysia, Malta, Palau, and Russia, while countries such as Turkey, the US, and Italy increased their floor space by 800%, 110%, and 47%, respectively. The show is held at the Dubai International Marine Club near Dubai Marina, itself located close to The Palm Jumeirah. Dubai Marina is located on a man-made canal and, as well as being a key hub for boating enthusiasts, is the location of residential developments. Built on the back of strong maritime infrastructure, Dubai’s boat manufacturers, like those in the UAE in general, have carved out a significant market in recent years, with the Dubai International Boat Show at the root of their success.

Dubai’s relationship with the sea has only strengthened in recent years. With projects now adding to cargo, ship repair, and marina capacity, the Emirate’s historic relationship with the maritime industry looks set to sail on.