Jebel Ali port. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: The Jebel Ali Port has been named "Best Seaport in the Middle East" for 21 consecutive years.

And it is for a very good reason: Jebel Ali offers connectivity to 140 locations, an air-sea corridor, a free zone and first-class service – an efficient system of trade facilitation that's unrivalled in the region.

That distinction has been recognised by the Asian Freight & Supply Chain Awards for two decades.

For its part, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is massive industrial freezone south of Dubai that offers seamless links to the region and rest of the world. It is the hub of many of the world's top shippers.

Home to 7,300 international companies, Jafza recorded non-oil foreign trade worth a whopping $80.2 billion.

What facilitates this mega operation is the Jebel Ali Port, the premier gateway for over 90 weekly services connecting more than 140 ports worldwide.


And the numbers show it: Jebel Ali Port has an annual capacity of 19.5 million containers. 

Jafza, a subsidiary of global ports operator DP World, has kept its position as a major trading and logistics hub by growing its non-oil foreign trade by 17 per cent from 23.9 million to 27.9 million tonnes worth $80.2 billion (Dh294.5 billion) in 2016.

“The value and volume of trade through Jafza underlines the strength of the national economy and its ability to adapt to global trading conditions, create investment opportunities and open up new markets to exports from the UAE,” Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, said in a statement.

With $11.3 billion worth of goods facilitated by Jafza in 2016, China kept its position as the free zone's biggest trading partner, with many Chinese companies in Dubai making use of its logistics capability to re-export goods and products.

Saudi Arabia was the second-largest Jafza trading partner with $7 billion, while Vietnam was third with $4.3 billion through the importation of electronics and electrical appliances, followed by the United States with a trade volume of $3.7 billion.

Machinery, electronics and electrical goods accounted for 49 per cent of Jafza’s total trade, with Jebel Ali Port’s ability to handle heavy equipment playing a key role, coupled with high consumer demand in the sector.

The petrochemicals, oil and gas sector had 16 per cent of total trade, followed by the food & FMCG sector (8 per cent), textiles and garments (7 per cent), and automotive and spare parts (6 per cent).

Trade with the Asia-Pacific region, meanwhile, came in at $32.4 billion, followed by the Middle East at $27.2 billion, the European continent at $9.9 billion, the Americas region at $5.5 billion, and Africa at $5 billion.

DP World has 78 marine and inland terminals in 40 countries across the globe.