The Saudi Maritime Congress, a pivotal event in the maritime and logistics sector, recently unfolded in Dammam, bringing together thousands of industry leaders and stakeholders.
Have a look at the highlights and key insights from this significant gathering.
A Hub of Activity
The fourth edition of the Saudi Maritime Congress was nothing short of a bustling marketplace, where business cards exchanged hands as swiftly as suitcases rolled through the venue. This year’s event, hosted at the Dhahran Expo venue, placed a special emphasis on the maritime and logistics sector within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. Notably, it sought to align with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.
As a backdrop to this gathering, the Kingdom was on the brink of celebrating its 93rd National Day, a momentous occasion that was proudly referenced by various speakers throughout the event.
Omar Hariri, the President of the Saudi Ports Authority, known as Mawani, and Ahmed Al-Subaey, CEO of Bahri, a prominent transportation and logistics company, delivered insightful keynote addresses on the event’s opening day. Al-Subaey underlined the importance of the maritime sector in achieving Vision 2030 objectives, emphasizing Bahri’s commitment to leveraging its expertise to drive development within Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Saudi Arabia’s Ambitious Goals
Chris Morley, the Group Director of Seatrade Maritime, the event’s organizer, highlighted Saudi Arabia’s impressive strides in enhancing its logistics infrastructure. One notable goal is to increase the country’s annual container throughput to 40 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) by 2030, more than quadrupling the current capacity. This ambitious vision entails building inland logistics hubs and improving rail connectivity.
Morley also noted that Saudi Arabia boasts 53,000 ships operating within its borders, registered in over 150 countries, collectively carrying up to 11 billion tonnes of cargo annually. This thriving maritime ecosystem positions the Kingdom as an attractive partner for global trade.
Abdulla bin Damithan, CEO and Managing Director at DP World GCC, shared his aspirations for strengthening ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. His role, extending beyond the UAE to encompass the entire GCC, underscores the Kingdom’s significance in his strategic plans. He emphasized the pivotal role of technological advancements in the sector, creating new opportunities and, notably, opening doors for women in a field previously dominated by men.
DP World’s significant investment of $800 million in doubling the capacity of the South Container Terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port by 2024 marks a substantial commitment to bolstering Saudi Arabia’s role as a global trade and logistical services hub.
Agreements and Collaborations
Apart from discussions and debates, the Saudi Maritime Congress witnessed significant agreements. Bahri, for instance, inked a Memorandum of Understanding with SAIL, a subsidiary of the Saudi Investment Recycling Co. This collaboration aims to strengthen their offerings within the Kingdom, focusing on maritime sector development and knowledge exchange.
Another noteworthy agreement involved Mawani partnering with SIRC to promote maritime sustainability in Saudi Arabia, highlighting the sector’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
A Multifaceted Exhibition
The event’s exhibition space was a microcosm of the maritime industry, featuring over 120 organizations spanning diverse sectors, including shipping, shipbuilding, artificial intelligence, port and terminal management, and finance. This diverse representation showcased the depth and breadth of the maritime ecosystem.
A Bright Future for Saudi Maritime
The Saudi Maritime Congress 2023 reflected the Kingdom’s growing prominence in global maritime affairs. With a significant increase in overall attendance and an expanded exhibition, the event is well on its way to joining the ranks of world-class maritime gatherings. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to Vision 2030, coupled with its focus on innovation and sustainability, positions it as a dynamic and promising partner in the evolving landscape of global trade and logistics. As the industry grapples with the challenges of decarbonization, Saudi Arabia stands ready to lead the way, fostering a brighter future for the maritime and logistics sector.