Abu Dhabi: A passenger ferry service between Abu Dhabi and other Gulf cities may become a reality soon, providing a relaxing and entertaining travel option to the residents of Gulf countries, a top official told Gulf News.
Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), which manages nine non-oil and gas ports including the state-of-the-art Khalifa Port in the emirate, is in discussions with a shipping line that has expressed interest in starting the ferry service to the major Gulf cities, Mohammad Al Shamsi, the CEO of ADPC, said in an interview on Thursday.
“The shipping line approached us and we encouraged them [to go ahead with the project]. They are looking into it.”
Asked when the service will be launched, he said: “If they [shipping line] want, they can start the service immediately; the right infrastructure for such a service is already there.”
ADPC has a dedicated terminal for cruise ships at Zayed Port near Abu Dhabi City.
“Definitely we could combine this infrastructure with the regional passenger ferry service.”
He did not want to disclose the name of the shipping line at this stage. “We do believe that there is a demand from neighbouring countries [from passengers to the UAE for such a service].”
He pointed out that a large number of people were visiting the UAE from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other GCC countries, especially during holidays. They come by air or drive long distances. The passenger ferry service will help them, especially families.
“Imagine you are living in Kuwait and visiting the UAE. You drive to the port, park your car, take rest, [board the ferry], enjoy the scenery…and the following morning you are in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.”
“It will be a relaxing experience instead of driving two thousand kilometres!”
The ferry service can attract more tourists from other parts of the world, apart from reducing the pressure on road and air traffic, and border checkpoints, Al Shamsi said.
According to the UAE Ministry of Interior, around three million people and more than one million vehicles cross Al Ghuwaifat border in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi between the UAE and Saudi Arabia every year.
People prefer the land route as a cheaper option to airplanes. Most of the people visit the UAE for shopping, the ministry said.
The number of travellers increases during holidays and festival seasons. About 270,649 passengers crossed Al Ghuwaifat border during 38 days before the eve of Eid Al Fitr in 2013. Among them, about 83,856 passengers crossed the border during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Ministry of Interior said.