DP World announced on Thursday plans to develop Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah port, in support of the Saudi Vision 2030.

The announcement came at the Future Investment Initiative conference currently taking place in Riyadh, where the Dubai-based ports operator’s group chairman discussed the significance of Jeddah Port as an entry point for the Saudi market.

“Our plans involve increasing efficiencies using innovative tech solutions and making it a semi-automated facility to create skilled jobs for Saudi nationals, transforming the port to an important gateway to markets serving 500 million people which will make the Kingdom’s ports and logistics services a necessity and not a choice for global trade markets, Sultan Bin Sulayem, DP World’s group chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

DP World did not disclose how much it would be investing in the port or returns it expects.

During the conference, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz announced plans to build a $500 billion project called NEOM that spans three countries. Bin Sulayem discussed how DP World’s plans for Jeddah will realise the potential for economic growth.

Around 10 per cent of world trade is expected to pass through NEOM, which is also expected to boost Saudi Arabia’s communications, technology and renewable energy sectors.

“As the first major investor in Jeddah port for almost 20 years now, we are committed to supporting the Kingdom’s effort to leverage its resources and investment capabilities through the development of Jeddah port. Our proposals are designed at boosting efficiency by enabling local businesses, opening new avenues for growth while supporting the government in achieving the Saudi Vision 2030,” Bin Sulayem stated.

DP World currently operates the South Container Terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port, which handles 59 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s imports by sea.

The company reported this week a 13.5 per cent year-on-year increase in container volumes it handled during the third quarter of 2017 supported by a “recovery of global trade.”