The Saudi-led trade sanctions on Qatar has not fazed the small Persian Gulf state from strengthening its ties as new shipping routes and agreements are keeping its future as a regional trade hub alive.
In the first of many promising turnarounds for the country, Qatar's minister of transport, Jassin bin Saif al Sulaiti, announced that Hamad port is running at 70% capacity and has secured new shipping routes to Pakistan, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Qatari shipping firm Milaha, one of the largest maritime and logistics companies in the Middle East, has also set up a new stand-alone transshipment hub in Oman.
Oman is important to Qatar as it kept itself neutral during the disputes that have been taking place between Qatar and its Middle East neighbours, meaning that Milaha has avoided the ban on Qatari consignments at Jebel Ali, UAE.
Abdulaziz Nasser Al-Yafei, Hamad Port Director, recently reported that the facility is operating “at full capacity”.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Qatar Ports Management Company (MWANI Qatar) and Qatar Chemical and Petrochemical Marketing and Distribution Company (Muntajat) is also ensuring trade continues to strengthen for the emirate.
The agreement for Muntajat to receive Hamad Port’s services for a renewable five-year period has provided a window into how strong the winds of change are blowing as Muntajat will now be able to export many its shipments through Hamad Port to destinations around the world.
MWANI Qatar will oversee container loading and unloading services at Hamad Port berths as well as providing support services for containers and trucks.
The MoU will also allow Muntajat to export products directly to Sahar and Salalah Ports in Oman, Mundra and Nhava Sheva ports in India, Port of Shanghai at China, and Dier Banji port in Turkey.
Muntajat CEO Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla has stated that further destinations will be revealed, but until then, the MoU allows the company to ship products directly from Hamad Port to 2000 customers in 135 countries.
HE Minister of Transport and Communications and MWANI’s Board Chairman Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti, said: “Such cooperation is an ideal model for joint work among local institutions to support the local economy and the lofty goals the country seeks to achieve under the wise leadership of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.”
“Hamad Port has been able to achieve significant achievements at the regional and international levels in a short period of time as it has provided various international maritime transport lines and will continue work towards achieving economic diversification through opening new international lines to improve Qatar’s competitiveness and transfer it into a regional trading hub.”
Qatar’s new Hamad container port will be more than capable of handling any future trade increases after construction contracts worth $500 million were recently secured for phase two of the project.
Highlights of #MaerskTaurus docking at #HamadPort carrying the largest shipment of containers arriving at #HamadPort pic.twitter.com/rSCqN5UxPL
— MWANI Qatar (@MwaniQtr) August 10, 2017
But it's not just Qatar's shipping sector that is experiencing a shake up as the country has also changed its travel policies.
Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive Officer for state-owned Qatar Airways, recently announced that visas would not be required for over 80 countries around the world.