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Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem

UAE - Diplomacy

Exporting Knowledge

Group Chairman & CEO, DP World


Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem’s expertise and visionary leadership spearheaded the rapid expansion of Dubai’s infrastructure, including ports and free zones, contributing significantly to the growth of the UAE. He was also a leader in developing the infrastructure supporting Dubai’s successful tourism industry, among various other sectors. Highlights of his three-decade business career include: leading marine terminal operator DP World’s expansion internationally; overseeing the rapid development of Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) into an unrivaled business park of more than 7,300 companies; and establishing and leading Nakheel, a real estate and tourism property development firm that has created many iconic Dubai projects.

TBY talks to Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman & CEO of DP World, on developing multimodal transport links and its various projects around the world.

Why are multimodal transport links important for trade, and what has been DP World’s role in their development locally and globally?

Connecting multi-modal transport, industrial parks, economic zones, ports, and terminals through a focus on infrastructure so that trade is enabled and business can develop is essential. The Jebel Ali Free Zone experience in Dubai is a success due to supportive infrastructure and government policies. Our flagship Jebel Ali Port together with the free zone has become a model for multi-modal transport corridors around the world. We have grown into ‘knowledge exporters,’ advising governments like Kazakhstan and Indonesia on how to develop local and regional trade. London Gateway and DP World Caucedo are other examples where a business park and a free zone were developed to support trade and business growth. Our experience has also taught us that soft infrastructure is every bit as significant as roads, railways, and pipelines.

How have DP World’s investments increased over the last two years?

The acquisition of Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai and Prince Rupert in Canada were key drivers of our strong results in 2016. Also in Canada, we signed a long-term lease agreement for the expansion and operation of the multipurpose Rodney Container Terminal at Saint John, New Brunswick. We also partnered with Caisse de dépí´t et placement du Québec (CDPQ) to create a co-investment platform of USD3.7 billion. Meanwhile, we now operate the multi-purpose Port of Berbera in Somaliland and have an inland container and warehousing facility in Kigali, Rwanda. We also signed an MoU to develop a logistics zone near the international airport. Elsewhere, we signed a 50-year concession for the development of a greenfield multi-purpose port project at Posorja, Ecuador. We also started the construction of a new and modern logistics terminal in Lurin district of Peru. In Asia, we are involved with the government of Kazakhstan for the development of a special economic zone in Aktau, further boosting trade and logistics in the country. In July this year, we signed an agreement with the Indonesian government and port officials to advise on the development of the Kuala Tanjung greenfield port and logistics zone and Belawan port in North Sumatra. We also provide similar services under a separate contract with Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) for the development of the Khorgos Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Inland Container Depot (ICD). We signed an agreement with Taiwan International Ports Corporation to potentially develop Kaohsiung Port’s Terminal 7. DP World Limassol, Cyprus was awarded a 25-year concession for the exclusive right to operate the multipurpose terminal. A new modern terminal designed to accommodate the largest operating cruise vessels is scheduled to open in the summer at DP World Limassol port. The new terminal consists of seven pods with an internal area of 7,000sqm. Simultaneously, P&O Maritime Cyprus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DP World Limited, was also awarded a 15-year concession to exclusively provide a full range of port marine services at the port of Limassol. In Russia, we formed a JV with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to invest in port and port-related assets. In May, we also signed an MoU with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to further develop the logistics sector in India. We will seek opportunities in the country worth over USD1 billion over the next few years. This will be aimed at development of port infrastructure of the Sagarmala project, creation of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, river transportation and cold chain storage, and investment in port-led SEZs, free trade zones, ICDs, and cruise terminals. These investments reflect market needs, and we will continue to develop trade solutions where our customers want us to be.

What can other markets learn from your experience of developing inland ports and other complementary businesses?

Having a dedicated industrial and logistics facility adjoining a port means greater efficiency for business. For example, cargo that requires processing can be handled within hours of arriving at Jebel Ali. The port is at the center of a sophisticated transport network, with excellent land, air, and sea connections. Al Maktoum International Airport already adds enormously to its logistical benefits, and this will only increase as the airport expands. We have also identified ways to diversify our business, which is essential to meeting the demands of changing and emerging markets. We seek to develop end-to-end value propositions for clients.



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