Duqm was once upon a time a non-descriptive silent port town located in central-eastern Oman. Located on the Arabian Sea is all set to become the next logistic hub and maritime destination in the Middle East. With 2,000 sq km of land and 70 km of coastline, Duqm is being hyped as one of the prominent economic development projects in this part of the world, with billions of dollars invested in the project. The town is being developed by the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) that has planned the town’s development by 2040 and is one of the largest SEZ built in the MENA region. The process of handing over certain parts of the Port is on to the Port of Duqm Company; the Port owner is underway. The Duqm Port is a 50:50 J.V. between the Government of Oman and Consortium Antwerp Port.
Development of Duqm Special Economic Zone
The town is being developed on the lines of Singapore, the present maritime capital of the world. The project that is attracting the world’s attention is the multi-purpose harbor and one of the biggest dry docks in this part of the world. The scope of the project estimates that about 200 ships can get docked here every year.
Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. is handling the Port’s engineering and construction under the supervision of the SEZAD. The work started in 2017, before which exhaustive soil surveys were carried out of the town, and a detailed design plan was prepared. A huge port area is built in the basin, a refinery and a terminal, two 400-meter jetties, a quay wall that is a kilometer long, and an entry channel that 18 meters in depth have been developed.
Besides the Port, a residential and industrial area is also being constructed. There is an earmarked tourist zone, a fishing harbor, and an education center too. Noteworthy is the elaborate logistics center that is coming up here.
What the development of Duqm port means to Middle-East Asia?
The Duqm Port and Oman’s development is very closely linked; especially, in a scenario where Oman’s national economy has been dependent on the hydrocarbon segment. Oman 2040 was drafted and designed to resuscitate the country’s economy and shift the dependency to other core areas – logistics and shipping services being two of them.
Duqm Port can be the next big milestone in the Middle East because it will offer an alternative route and hub for shipping companies in Oman. It is because of its strategic location in the region and the Port’s geographic advantage in the background of regional turbulence and conflict. Both these reasons often cause delays in sea traffic, disrupting commerce and trade to a great extent.
Jebel Ali in the UAE, the largest human-made deepwater Port of the Middle East, boasts of a harbor with two terminals for containers and vessels. Shipping companies worldwide arrive here to unload and load cargo, serving areas like the Gulf, Africa, and India. For the logistic sector in Middle-East Asia and Africa, Jebel Ali is a key port. Now with the development of Duqm in Oman, a healthy and effective alternative to Jebel Ali is being created. Since it is located right in between the main sea lanes, connecting the Gulf region with rest of the world, Duqm is all set to push better shipping and trading activities in this part of the world.
Here are some of the highlights about Duqm and how it can help the logistic sector in the region:
- Duqm is being developed as a port that can serve the region better by offering direct access to the Indian Ocean. For logistics companies in Oman and other Gulf countries, it means direct access to the ocean to trade in oil, gas, and other key products.
- The Port at Duqm will have a new center for custom clearances. In the absence of the Port, logistic companies in Oman, UAE, and other countries of the region need to spend a great deal of their time in paperwork to process the shipments. However, the custom center at Duqm will help reduce the processing time, helping and strengthening import and export of Oman.
- The high-end focus on building a top-of-the-line port at Duqm. SEZAD supervised the entire construction of the Port and the customs center, focussing on making the Port compliant with international specifications for ports. From using hi-tech systems and processes to ensuring compliance with the latest in the industry, the Special Economic Zone Authority has done an impressive job to ensure that the Port is up-to-the-mark to support import and export facilities of the region.
- Since Duqm is expected to play a significant role in increasing the region’s trade and commerce, it has been ensured that the customs center is fitted with modern systems to support the increase of EXIM activities. It has also been taken care that the Port offers seamless connectivity to the Bayan Customs Clearance System.
- Keeping in mind the crucial role that Duqm is going to play in the trade of petroleum products, OTTCO (Oman Tank Terminal Company) has signed a Sub-Usufruct agreement with the Port of Duqm Company (PODC). OTTCO is building infrastructure at the Duqm Liquid Export Terminal at the Port with an additional storage capacity of up to 300,000 cbm. This infrastructure is going to be a boost to the trade of petroleum and petrochemical products.
China has been working with Oman for quite some time now to recreate the Maritime Silk Route. The One Belt One Road being developed by China features the Duqm SEZ as a prominent location. Thus, the development of Duqm is going to catalyze the Omani economy. It will propel the future of logistics in the region.