Suwaiq Port to serve as hub for dhow traffic

MUSCAT, SEPT 9 – Suwaiq Port, newly opened to commercial traffic earlier this month, will serve as a new hub for dhow-based maritime cargoes serving the capital and North and South Al Batinah governorates of the Sultanate, according to a high-level official of Asyad Group — the nation’s logistics development flagship. Nabil bin Salim al Bimani, Group Chief, Ports and Free-zones, said the facility will primarily cater to dhows and small cargo vessels plying general cargoes such as fruits, vegetables and livestock. Strategically located roughly halfway between Muscat and Suhar, this facility forms part of a network of ‘Small and Medium Ports’ that will play an integral role in the achievement of Oman’s logistics ambitions.

The modest-sized port, which doubles as a fishing harbour, is set to receive dhows that have been traditionally calling at Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. With the latter facility set to be shortly converted into a tourism port and waterfront destination, all dhow traffic will eventually be relocated to Suwaiq. The measure will also include small vessels trading in livestock from Somalia and East Africa; fruits, vegetables and general merchandise from Iran; and other general cargoes from the UAE and India’s west coast.

According to Al Bimani, further government investments are envisaged in expanding the capacity of Suwaiq Port to cater to future demand. At present, the port’s solitary jetty can accommodate around two small vessels at a time. But depending upon demand growth, new capacity will be added, he said. The official reiterated the government’s call to the private sector to invest in support infrastructure necessary to underpin Suwaiq Port’s development into coastal gateway for general cargoes. “There is potential for investments in warehousing and storage, for example, cold storage for perishables, and trucking services to connect the port with Muscat, Suhar and other destinations across Al Batinah,” he said.

Asyad is also inviting private firms to capitalise on synergistic opportunities between the new port facility and a ‘dry port’ envisaged as part of the Khazaen Economic City — a logistics hub under development in Barka. Port Suwaiq will be operated by Marafi — a wholly owned subsidiary of Asyad Group with the mandate to operate and manage Oman’s network of small and medium ports.

Conrad Prabhu