Dubai Ports World will start to operate the Egyptian port of Sokhna in the Gulf of Suez from tomorrow.
The move follows the acquisition of 90 per cent of the Egyptian Container Handling Company, a subsidiary Amiral Holdings, which owns the biggest share of the Sokhna Port Development Company, under an agreement signed yesterday.
The 25-year acquisition deal is worth $670 million (Dh2.46 billion). The deal was signed by DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and Egyptian Minister of Transport Mohamed Lotfi Mansour.
In addition, DP World will invest $1.3bn in the port over the next three years. Sokhna, the closest port to Cairo, stretches more than 90 square kilometres northwest of the Suez Economic Zone, the first in Egypt. Capacity is expected to jump to 1.2m containers by next year.
By comparison, Sokhna received about 440,000 typical containers in 2007.
Bin Sulayem told a press conference yesterday that Sokhna is a vital water artery linking European and Asian ports. He reiterated DP World’s commitment to develop the port and supply it with the facilities and infrastructure it needs. The port will also be linked to the network of DP World ports from East Asia to the Americas.
Egypt is the largest market in the Arab world and the UAE is the largest foreign investor in that country, according to bin Sulayem, with investment reaching $12bn in industry, agriculture and hospitality sectors as well as ports. “It is highly expected that other Dubai World companies will invest in Egypt, especially those capable of offering value-added supply services, such as port-linked work compounds, real estate development and tourism companies. And we look forward to exploring more such opportunities in the future.”
Mansour said DP World’s investment in Sokhna will top E£12bn (Dh8bn) over the coming three years. Two projects are currently under way: an ammonium production plant and a liquid handling facility. Specialised storage stations will be also built. He estimated that 2,700 new jobs will be created over the next three years.
Sokhna is the 43rd port for the Dubai firm, which now has operations in 23 countries. As part of the port’s renovation, a 1,300-metre pier will be built and the channel will be deepened to 16 metres. The pier will be able to accommodate two million containers a year.
Meanwhile, DP World CEO Mohammed Sharaf said Dubai World is always looking for investment and port acquisition opportunities all over the world. The group has plans to expand its operations in Egypt, he added.
“Sokhna is a valuable addition to our two other ports in Djibouti and Jeddah on the Red Sea,” said Sharaf.
Osama Al Sharif, who will maintain his post as port board chairman, said Sokhna has a bright future.
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