The Middle East has long been one of the world’s key avenues for trade, innovations and ideas, which made Port Technology International (PTI) ask: what are the top ports in the Middle East?
The region is surrounded by the sea and for thousands of years has been at the heart of East-West trade routes, including the fabled Silk Road of the 2nd Century BCE and China’s New Silk Road today.
The list below is accurate as of February 2020 and is measured by TEU traffic only.
The Port of Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE – 14.9 million TEU
The Port of Jebel Ali is by far the biggest port in the Middle East, with an annual traffic of 19 million TEU.
It is the only port outside of the Asia to feature in the list of the world’s top 10 and is the flagship port of DP World’s global portfolio.
It is divided into four container terminals, three of which can handle more TEU on their own than the other ports on this list.
The fourth container terminal, when it is completed, will increase Jebel Ali’s annual capacity to 22 million TEU. On current statistics it would be one of the five busiest in the world. When considering the question of the top ports in the Middle East, Jebel Ali is far ahead of its regional rivals.
Jeddah Islamic Port, Saudi Arabia – 4.1 million TEU
The Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) in Saudi Arabia is the second busiest port in the Middle East, with an annual traffic of approximately 4.1 million TEU.
In December 2019 DP World signed a $500 million 30-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Saudi Ports Authority for the development of JIP’s south container terminal.
Once complete, the terminal will be able to handle Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS); the project is set to play a major part in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
The Port of Salalah, Oman – 3.3 million TEU
The Port of Salalah is the third busiest port in the Middle East and just about makes it into the world’s top 50, with an annual traffic of 3.3 million TEU.
In early January 2020 the Port joined TradeLens, the blockchain initiative launched by A.P. Moeller-Maersk and IBM.
That news followed the announcement from APM Terminals that Salalah had broken its all-time monthly TEU record in December 2019.
The Port of Aqaba, Jordan – 1.3 million TEU
The Port of Aqaba is the fourth biggest port in the Middle East and the biggest in Jordan, with an annual traffic of approximately 1.3 million TEU.
It broke its traffic record in 2018 and was cited by APM Terminals as key to turning Jordan into a regional transportation and logistics hub.
The Aqaba Container Terminal has been its main engine of growth in recent years and has acted as a key hub for the wider region, including landlocked countries in central Asia.
The Port of Damietta, Egypt – 1.2 million TEU
The Port of Damietta is the fifth busiest port in the Middle East, with an annual traffic of 1.2 million TEU.
The city has long been a maritime hub for Egypt; the port was established in its current form in 1986 in order to take pressure away from Egypt’s other ports, such as Alexandria.
Located at one end of the Nile Delta, Damietta is one of the most important ports in North Africa and a key hub for African exporters looking to break in Mediterranean markets.