The port of Duqm was opened three years ago to tap the oil market of the Al Wusta region. It is a 50-50 joint venture between Oman and the Consortium Antwerp Port (CAP) of Belgium. Image Credit: Port of Duqm

Abu Dhabi

A new port in Oman is aiming to become an important hub for shipping business in the region with its modern infrastructure and expansive basin overlooking the Arabian Sea.

The port of Duqm was opened three years ago in order to tap the oil rich market of Al Wusta region. It is located 550 kilometres from Muscat and about 400 kilometres from Salalah.

An official from the port said it was constructed to develop the region and also reduce pressure on Salalah and Sohar ports. “It will handle a lot of cargo. We hope to have a lot of ships coming to the port from everywhere,” said Anwar Abdul Sattar Al Balushi, a commercial key account manager from Port of Duqm.

The cargo to Al Wusta region was coming all the way from Sohar which is about 600-700 kilometres away. “The new port will solve this problem,” Al Baluschi told Gulf News during the recently concluded Seatrade Middle East Maritime Conference in Dubai.

The port is a 50-50 joint venture between the Omani Government and the Consortium Antwerp Port (CAP) of Belgium.

Oman Shipping Report 2014 published by Business Monitor International said Oman ports sector is expected to see robust growth in 2014. The report said that Duqm will be a new area of interest as lots of industries are going to be developed there, including an oil refinery.

“Aided by construction of a port at Duqm and new cargo terminals at Salalah and Sohar and the country’s strategic position, Oman continues to develop into a regional powerhouse for the shipping and transshipment of dry bulk goods,” the report said.

Al Balushi said they would have more facilities at the port by 2017. “The area is also rich in minerals like limestone. Our plan is also to target this sector. Within the port limit we have dry docks. The major plan is to give one stop service to all the ships.”

“There is still space for a new port despite the presence of a number of ports in the region. We are not in competition with Jebel Ali, Salalah or Sohar. We will have own market and business,” he said.

The port received 160 ships this year starting from March. The port is being expanded to accommodate more ships and handle cargo.

Underscoring Port of Duqm’s strategic importance is its planned development into an integrated, multimodal logistics hub, encompassing the maritime, road, air and rail modes of transportation.

An airport is under construction at Duqm, while a proposed rail-based freight and passenger transportation network, will eventually link this industrial port city with the national rail system.

The website of the port said that its appeal is its strategic geopolitical location. “It is this advantageous location that the Omani government seeks to leverage as it sets out to position Duqm as a safe, stable and business-friendly destination for industrial and economic investment,” it says.