A strategic advantage for RAK Ports

Published in category: Harbour & Terminal

Positioned on the Arabian Gulf just a short distance from the Straits of Hormuz, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is in a key location with all the maritime traffic coming into and leaving the Gulf passing by just a few miles offshore. RAK Ports Group was established to capitalise on the Emirate’s favourable geographical positioning and now has five ports within its portfolio.

Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, RAK Ports’ stated mission is to run efficient, cost effective operations in all its facilities, for the benefit of the Ras Al Khaimah Government, community and businesses. It is also mandated to maintain the highest industry standards in meeting the needs of its customers, as well as ensuring that its ports are safe, secure and have high environmental standards and have a high caliber of environmental practice.

Ras Al Khaimah is notable for being the major supplier of rock, aggregates and cement products for the entire GCC and surrounding region, supplying the necessary raw materials for construction projects including the forthcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA 2022 tournament in Qatar. To meet this demand, RAK Ports has invested heavily in the necessary infrastructure and facilities required to maintain its role as the key maritime gateway for the Emirate’s import and export activities. The expansion and diversification of services offered across the five individual ports of Ras Al Khaimah has consolidated their importance to the growing economic success of the Emirate, and to the overall profile of Ras Al Khaimah as a top-class location for doing business in a wide range of industrial sectors.

Saqr Port

RAK Ports’ Saqr Port is the major bulk-handing terminal in the Middle East and a vital part of the regional economy. Located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains it serves the fast-growing quarry industry in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Each year 55 million of the 60 million tonnes of bulk materials exported from Ras Al Khaimah pass through Saqr Port, and over the past 5 years cargo movements in and out have more than doubled. To satisfy the growing demand, RAK Ports is currently adding new deep water berths capable of handling capesize vessels.

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To manage this increased capacity the port has signed a contract with the Damen Shipyards Group for the delivery of an ASD 2913 Tug. On delivery it will join seven other Damen tugs that already form part of the RAK Ports fleet; an ASD 2411, an ASD 2310 and five Damen Stan Tugs. The new vessel be built just a short distance away at Albwardy Damen in Sharjah and will be delivered in time for the opening of the new bulk terminal at Saqr Port in mid-2018.

Saqr Port presents the vessels that operate within it certain challenges. The proximity of the Hajar Mountains means that the port can experience sudden and very strong winds. That, combined with the size of the bulk carriers and confines of the harbour, means that the new tug will need to be both compact and powerful. After viewing all the options, the ASD 2913 was ultimately selected as having all the necessary attributes including 80-tonnes of bollard pull within a 29-metre hull, plus high freeboard and a raised quarterdeck for safe operations in rough seas.

Saqr Port presents the vessels that operate within it certain challenges. The proximity of the Hajar Mountains means that the port can experience sudden and very strong winds. That, combined with the size of the bulk carriers and confines of the harbour, means that the new tug will need to be both compact and powerful. After viewing all the options, the ASD 2913 was ultimately selected as having all the necessary attributes including 80-tonnes of bollard pull within a 29-metre hull, plus high freeboard and a raised quarterdeck for safe operations in rough seas.

Both parties were also pleased that the new tug would be built in the UAE, for the UAE. Albwardy Damen continues to go from strength-to-strength, providing a comprehensive newbuild and repair service to the UAE and the wider Arabian Gulf. Until recently known as Damen Shipyards Sharjah, it is also currently building three large rotor tugs and a self-propelled jack-up barge, as well as some smaller ASD tugs and cutter suction dredgers.

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Looking to the future

The addition of the new tug is just part of RAK Ports’ long term goal to keep in the premiere league of port groups via continuous innovation. Another element of the strategy was realised in April 2017 with the announcement of the establishment of the RAK Marine Training Establishment, also at Saqr Port. This will deliver the statutory marine training required by the Federal Transport Authority and so contribute to meeting the growing demand for specialist marine training in Ras Al Khaimah and the Northern Emirates. A local provision will be both quicker and more cost-efficient, and the facility will deliver high quality training across a wide range of qualifications to companies from all over the UAE, and offer bespoke courses to meet specific client needs.

With its position at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf, RAK Ports started out with a key strategic advantage and through investment and the will to innovate it is reinforcing its position as a resource that is vital to the development and prosperity of the entire GCC region.