BREAKBULK MID­DLE EAST

Ex­perts from Abu Dhabi Ports, Agility Lo­gis­tics, Bahri Lo­gis­tics, and GAC give their in­sights on the cur­rent mar­ket trends in the breakbulk sec­tor

LogisticsNews Middle East - - Event Review -

Held on Fe­bru­ary 6-7, 2018, at the Abu Dhabi Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, Breakbulk Mid­dle East 2018 fo­cused on the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion’s project lo­gis­tics and breakbulk sec­tor.

The event saw 70 ex­hibitors, rep­re­sent­ing the end-to-end value chain for the trans­port of over­size cargo, as well as 30 speak­ers and nearly 2,000 at­ten­dees. In ad­di­tion to the ex­hi­bi­tion, the event of­fered ed­u­ca­tional sem­i­nars— all of which were free for at­ten­dees—as well as net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing lun­cheons hosted by lead­ing ship­pers.

Of­fi­cially open­ing Breakbulk Mid­dle East, Dr Eng Ab­dulla Salem Al Kathiri, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Fed­eral Au­thor­ity for Land and Mar­itime Trans­port, said: “The UAE is one of the most de­vel­oped mar­itime coun­tries in the re­gion, both eco­nom­i­cally and com­mer­cially, pro­vid­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that has gained in­vestor con­fi­dence and is able to sup­port a di­verse range of ma­jor busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties across the mar­itime sec­tors, in turn con­tribut­ing to global con­fi­dence in the UAE econ­omy.”

Key top­ics of dis­cus­sion for panel dis­cus­sions and sem­i­nars in­cluded han­dling projects in post-con­flict re­gions, the evolv­ing sup­ply chain, and on­line ship­ping plat­forms.

In at­ten­dance were a num­ber of key sup­pli­ers, lo­gis­tics providers, ports, and in­vestors from around the re­gion, in­clud­ing Abu Dhabi Ports, GAC, Agility, DP World, Bahri Lo­gis­tics, King Ab­dul­lah Port, Al Faris, ASAS Trans­port, and Lo­gis­taas.

Ab­dulka­reem Al Masabi, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, Ports, at Abu Dhabi Ports—the host port for the event— re­marked: “Breakbulk Mid­dle East brings the re­gion’s fore­most ex­perts in the in­dus­try to­gether with the lead­ing ship­pers, car­ri­ers, freight for­warders, trans­port spe­cial­ists, and re­lated ser­vice providers to dis­cuss op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges in the spe­cialised Breakbulk field.

“Breakbulk and the project cargo in­dus­try are vi­tal to the in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment that the UAE and gov­ern­ments across the re­gion are de­liv­er­ing as they look to build more di­verse and in­te­grated economies. This in­dus­try plays a vi­tal role in ac­com­plish­ing the in­fras­truc­tural devel­op­ment that gov­ern­ments in the GCC have en­vi­sioned.”

Ac­cord­ing to Al Masabi, the UAE is one of the top 20 coun­tries in con­tainer port traf­fic, and its strate­gic lo­ca­tion has en­abled it to ac­quire the lion’s share in to­tal con­tainer and cargo move­ment in the re­gion at 60%. The UAE ac­counts for an es­ti­mated 30-35 % of to­tal re­gional mar­itime sec­tor in­vest­ment at $66bn, with mar­itime and ship­ping trade in­dus­try ac­count­ing for 90% of the global trade mar­ket.

“Abu Dhabi Ports has achieved no­table progress and growth in all its op­er­a­tions,” added Al Masabi, “es­pe­cially in the gen­eral cargo and bulk busi­ness sec­tors. Last year, we han­dled 18.628 mil­lion tonnes, the high­est ever record since its in­cep­tion in 2006. The CAGR of gen­eral cargo and bulk in the last five years is 70%, and this year is ex­pected to be an­other record year.”

Al Masabi also be­lieves that Expo 2020 will bring in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to the coun­try and its var­i­ous eco­nomic sec­tors; and where there are op­por­tu­ni­ties, there is a need for the com­modi­ties that are clas­si­fied as breakbulk cargo.

He com­mented: “The event is an­tic­i­pated to bring in en­hanced eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity to the

UAE, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion and in­fra­struc­ture growth, which again re­quires in­creased cargo. We look for­ward to the im­pact such events will have on our in­dus­try and wel­come the chal­lenge to ex­pand hori­zons for the mar­itime sec­tor and our­selves.”

Matthew Luck­hurst, vice-pres­i­dent— liner, at Bahri Lo­gis­tics, too be­lieves the up­com­ing devel­op­ment in the form of Expo 2020 and Saudi Vi­sion 2030 will act as de­fin­i­tive pro­pel­lers in the up­ward di­rec­tion.

“Be­ing the na­tional car­rier of Saudi Ara­bia, the Mid­dle East and the Gulf in par­tic­u­lar are bright spots for us. We are very ac­tive in these parts, and we’re do­ing well. The next five to 10 years look very bright in terms of in­fra­struc­ture, util­i­ties, and other mar­ket seg­ments.”

Bahri Lo­gis­tics op­er­ates six mul­tipur­pose ves­sels with 26,000 DWT each on a reg­u­lar liner sched­ule; four ves­sels con­nect the United States to Saudi Ara­bia and ma­jor ports in the Gulf, In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent and the Mediter­ranean, and two ves­sels con­nect Europe to Saudi Ara­bia and key ports in the Gulf and the Mediter­ranean. The busi­ness unit has signed co­op­er­a­tive agree­ments with part­ner car­ri­ers such as Höegh Au­to­lin­ers, Lib­erty Global Lo­gis­tics, and Rick­mer­slinie, and has in­tro­duced full so­lu­tion breakbulk ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing door-to-door ser­vice.

“There’s two as­pects here,” said Luck­hurst, about Bahri’s pres­ence at Breakbulk Mid­dle East. “One is to show­case your ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which is great for brand­ing and po­si­tion­ing your­self in the mar­ket, so that peo­ple know who you are. Se­condly, it’s to meet our cus­tomers, giv­ing us a good chance to dis­cuss op­por­tu­ni­ties, prospects, and is­sues. We love lis­ten­ing to our cus­tomers, which helps in our

I don’t think the (breakbulk) mar­ket is do­ing as well as it should be.” Capt Per Thörn­blom, GAC

own in­ter­nal plan­ning, giv­ing them best so­lu­tions at the end of the day.”

Agility, the gold spon­sor at the event, is no stranger to the event; this was their third run­ning year at Breakbulk Mid­dle East. Mo­ham­mad Jaber, COO at Agility Abu Dhabi and re­gional di­rec­tor, project lo­gis­tics for Mid­dle East and Africa, and Bas­sel El Dab­bagh, CEO at Agility Abu Dhabi, high­lighted in­dus­try trends, and the ris­ing need to adapt to tech­nol­ogy changes.

Dab­bagh re­marked: “Breakbulk Mid­dle East is es­sen­tially a ded­i­cated event high­light­ing the pro­cesses and play­ers in­volv­ing breakbulk cargo, i.e., non-con­tainer­ised cargo like that in the oil and gas in­dus­try, or in­fra­struc­ture, con­struc­tion, etc. It is a very im­por­tant event, unit­ing lo­gis­tics play­ers like Agility with car­ri­ers and cargo own­ers.”

Jaber added: “Agility has the largest foot­print in Mid­dle East and Africa when it comes to lo­gis­tics. We are here as a mar­ket leader for the UAE, achiev­ing more than 10 mil­lion freight tonne in cargo in the last decade, plus three mil­lion con­tain­ers ser­vic­ing the en­ergy sec­tor and in­fra­struc­ture.

Tremen­dous devel­op­ment and all the gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives forces us to be a part of the GCC lo­gis­tics sys­tem. We pro­vide ser­vice in 100 coun­tries, with 550 of­fices un­der the same um­brella and mind­sets. In the last decade, we’ve pro­vided ser­vice for nearly a 100 projects within just the GCC, and these were multi-bil­lion projects, with clients like AD­NOC, ZATCO, ATCO, and many more.”

Agility has re­cently be­gin a hub at Khal­ifa Port in Khal­ifa In­dus­trial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), spread out over 200,000sqm.

“As per Agility’s Emerg­ing Mar­ket Lo­gis­tics In­dex, UAE bagged third po­si­tion af­ter China and In­dia,” men­tioned Jaber. “GCC has re­vealed nearly $288bn worth of cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, over the next five years. There is huge po­ten­tial for lo­gis­tics in the re­gion. As per our re­ports, there is 4.8% pre­dicted growth in air freight, which also ser­vices oil and gas and en­ergy sec­tors.”

Both Dab­bagh and Jaber be­lieve tech­nol­ogy is im­pact­ing lo­gis­tics, in the form of au­tonomous ve­hi­cles, ware­hous­ing and au­to­ma­tion, and ecom­merce and cus­tomer ful­fill­ment sup­ply chain.

“In­volv­ing the new gen­er­a­tion in this in­dus­try is very im­por­tant due to the rise of tech­nol­ogy,” com­mented Jaber. “We try to em­ploy fresh grad­u­ates via our train­ing pro­gramme, to com­bine them with our ex­pe­ri­enced work­force and tech­nol­ogy, thus meet­ing cur­rent time chal­lenges.”

Agility Abu Dhabi is a part of a civil ser­vice pro­gramme, where the gov­ern­ment has em­ployed a num­ber of peo­ple in Agility and its sis­ter com­pa­nies, to train them to un­der­stand and ex­e­cute lo­gis­tics in a mod­ern way.

Dab­bagh added: “Since 2007, things re­ally have changed. We’ve had to reskill, in a bid to adapt to mar­ket changes. Your em­ploy­ees need to be reskilled to learn how to work with new tech­nol­ogy and to un­der­stand new ways of do­ing things. This is where our train­ing pro­grammes come in, to reskill our labour force.”

Jaber also be­lieves that de­spite the in­tro­duc­tion of VAT in the UAE and Saudi Ara­bia, the mar­ket has con­tin­ued to at­tract both lo­cal and for­eign in­vestors to the re­gion. He men­tions that host­ing an event like the Expo 2020 will bring more op­por­tu­ni­ties; Agility is closely in­volved with con­struc­tion com­pa­nies to pro­vide ex­pert ser­vice when it comes to breakbulk.

Cap­tain Per Thörn­blom, group project lo­gis­tics man­ager at GAC, dis­cussed the com­ple­tion of a chal­leng­ing project by his team,

This in­dus­try plays a vi­tal role in ac­com­plish­ing the in­fras­truc­tural devel­op­ment that gov­ern­ments in the GCC have en­vi­sioned.” Ab­dulka­reem Al Masabi, Abu Dhabi Ports

where GAC trans­ported an un­der­wa­ter restau­rant from one lo­ca­tion to an­other. The restau­rant, com­plete with its 13m high stair­well, was moved to the brand-new re­sort of Hu­rawalhi in Mal­dives, from New Zealand.

“We were awarded the Project/heavylift For­warder of the Year, in the 2017 Global Freight Awards,” men­tioned Thörn­blom. “It was in­deed a real chal­lenge shift­ing this restau­rant, given how there was no jetty or berth on the tiny is­land of Hu­rawalhi. We ini­tially car­ried out echo-sound­ing and seabed tests, fol­low­ing which we made 3D draw­ings and planned how we would lift the restau­rant out. The load­ing of the restau­rant for dif­fer­ent types of ships and lash­ing cal­cu­la­tions were sim­u­lated in our soft­ware. It took 26 days to trans­port it from New Zealand to Hu­rawalhi; I pi­loted the ship since we didn’t have any lo­cal pi­lots.

“Once there, we lifted the restau­rant di­rectly into the wa­ter, and set it in its place. The en­tire project took us a year and a half, from the owner ap­proach­ing us for the task, to the fi­nal fix­ing of the restau­rant into the seabed. From the builders to de­sign­ers, we were quite a team.”

GAC of­fers key ser­vices in the breakbulk in­dus­try, from lo­cal can­vass­ing and sales, to cargo and claims han­dling, and weather rout­ing and per­for­mance man­age­ment ser­vices.

“I don’t think the (breakbulk) mar­ket is do­ing as well as it should be,” said Thörn­blom. “The im­pact of the world­wide econ­omy down­turn and the lack of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments are be­ing felt in this re­gion, as well as all over the world.”

Bas­sel El Dab­bagh (L), Mo­ham­mad Jaber (R)

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