Outside of the apparent benefits of increased trade, DP World has achieved two significant milestones that are often overlooked.
Firstly, by establishing the UAE brand as a collaborative partner and strategic investor, it promoted greater awareness of Dubai’s position as a destination for trade, tourism, and commerce.
Secondly, DP World’s success can broadly be cited as a driver for the development of Abu Dhabi’s rapidly emerging ports and logistics industry.
Having started its foreign direct investment strategy just six years before its complete formation, DPI had already collaborated on Jeddah’s South Container Terminal before developing port operations in Djibouti, Vizag, and Constanta. These were only the preliminary steps for what would become DP World’s most significant and strategic investment period.
Making those buys count
After outbidding Hutchison Whampoa ltd. and PSA, amongst others, DPI acquired the global port assets of US-based CSX Corp in a $1.15 billion deal that included critical existing port operations in Hong Kong, China, Australia and Germany. It also included the Dominican Republic’s Punta Caucedo, a port that handles more than 60 per cent of the country’s market share and has since become one of the most important trade centres in the Americas region and among the top 15 ports in Latin America.
Just a year later, in 2006, DP World purchased P&O, the fourth largest port operator in the world, after outbidding Singapore’s PSA in a deal that included 29 ports in 19 countries, including Australia’s Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle container terminals, the UK’s Southampton and Tilbury terminals, as well as numerous ports across North America, including Canada, where operations have expanded to include Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Fraser Surrey.
Other vital ports, acquired over time but only recently in total, include DP World Santos, which started with a minority shareholding in 2009 before being bought out in December 2017. Today, it is one of Brazil’s largest and most modern multipurpose terminals, covering 848,500 square metres and strategically located next to the highway and railway network.
Thanks to its technologically equipped quay, DP World Santos can handle up to four Super Post-Panamax vessels simultaneously, enabling an annual trade of more than 1.2 million TEUs.
Arguably, its greatest master stroke came in June 2007, when the company offered investors a 19.55 per cent stake amounting to 3,245.3 million shares through an IPO in November 2007. Not only was it oversubscribed by 15 times, but its proceeds of $4.22 billion made it, at that time, the largest IPO in the Middle East.
Reaching into every corner of the world
With further significant investments taking place in the following years, most notably, London Gateway, the Port of Berbera, and the construction of a $1.13bn deep-water port at Ndayane, near the Senegalese capital of Dakar, it would be fair to say that in just under a couple of decades, DP World had well and truly earned its name, having reached almost every corner of the globe.
Never resting on its laurels and with a clear focus on enhancing value, safety and sustainability across its assets, DP World continues to leverage digitisation throughout its organisation while finding new ways to save time through the practical application of technology.
Thanks to projects such as DP World Cargospeed, which will enable the possibilities of ‘freight at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking’, or BoxBay, which is currently being piloted at Jebel Ali and enables direct access to containers through a fully automated stacking system up to 11 storeys high, DP World has understood where its strengths lie and how it can maximise value for its customers and partners.
Guided by its four principles to create growth, drive results, make others excel and adapt and evolve, DP World is indisputably the leader of a community of port operators and trade organisations that have successfully repositioned the UAE as a global trade hub while expanding its sphere of influence. Whether you see it as just a business or a nation-building vehicle that has played a significant role in the development of the UAE, DP World continues to function as a far-reaching emissary for the UAE and its ever-expanding role in global trade.
For me, it is a working example of the Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.”