Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Oman and Ras Al Khaimah all spoke of port expansion plans that would enable the region to grow its share of the lucrative cruise market.
Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA) Abu Dhabi and host of the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, said: “I am delighted to announce that the current temporary cruise terminal at Mina Zayed will now become the site of the permanent one. The concept design will be announced in Q1 2014.”
Once finished, the permanent port will have capacity for three to four cruise ships at one time.
Mohamed Juma al Shamisi, Acting CEO, ADPC said: “This season - 2013/2014 - we are expecting more than 76 ship calls, including ten maiden arrivals and a visit from Cunard’s latest luxury flagship Queen Elizabeth. The new cruise terminal is a significant investment and offers a much improved customer experience. As both port owner and terminal operator – we have expanded both our range of ancillary and marine services to meet the specific needs of visiting cruise ships as well as improved access to the port with Gate No 2 at Zayed Port dedicated to serve traffic to the cruise lines. But this is only the beginning.”
From the Qatar Tourism Authority, HE Issa Al Mohannadi, Chairman, expanded on Qatar’s cruise ambitions as part of a strategy to attract seven million visitors annually by 2030. He said that commercial port activities would be relocated to a new site outside of the capital Doha in 2016, at which time the existing facility would be redeveloped with increased draught to 12 metres to act as a dedicated cruise tourism port - with the bonus of a location within walking distance of the iconic Museum of Modern Art.
“With Dubai hosting Expo 2020, there will be significant focus on the region and this gives us an opportunity to collaborate and use cruise as a link between the destinations to attract a bigger number of visitors,” he said.
Port development was also a feature of Oman’s presentation by Director General of Tourism Development at the Ministry of Tourism, Salim Al Mamari, who confirmed Sultan Qaboos port would cease to cater for cargo vessels from August 2014, with redevelopment covering three new cruise berths, ferry and marina berths, hotels, souks, restaurants and other tourism facilities.
Expansion is also planned for Salalah with a separate cruise terminal, while Khasab port in Musandam in the north was being re-designed with additional facilities for cruise ships, he added.
In other developments around the region, Dubai is pushing ahead with a new terminal, according to Hamad bin Mejren, Executive Director of Business Tourism at Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Government of Dubai. He said the new facility at Mina Rashid would be operational in the first quarter of 2014 and would be four times the size of the current terminal.