Abdul Wahab l

Duqm port has immense importance due to its strategic location. Duqm port is a segment of the SEZAD project (Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm) in the Sultanate of Oman[1]. The port, which was designed with the intention of boosting the economy, is an evergreen project that is rapidly establishing itself as a center of economic activity due to its central location[2]. It is located in the South-East of Oman and very near to Sultanate’s major oil and gas mining projects. This port is a joint venture between the ASAYD and Consortium Antwerp port. Duqm port is an important and fastest growing part of Middle East region’s modifying maritime landscape. Port Duqm, with its central geographical position, is ideally situated to serving both Eastern and Western corridors[3]. The Port of Duqm is the only port in the Sultanate completely integrated within the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which enables investors to take advantage of the Government of Oman’s operational and financial stimulus[4].

Duqm port, with the expansive basins, quay walls and its deep draft of 18m has the trappings of the world-class multi-purpose doorway[5].  And as the key anchor for an immense Special Economic Area of 2,000 meter square, it has the capacity and ambition to grow into one of the largest hubs in the Middle East[6].

It has an industrial port of special economic zone covers about 170 square kilometer and it forms the core of all activity.  Duqm is ideally placed to be a one-stop hub to the Middle East – particularly for goods from Asia and the entire operation is planned to grow quickly as market share increases. The region is known for its abundance of fish resources. Duqm also aims to become a center for aquaculture and fish processing projects[7].

A strategic geopolitical location of Duqm is far away from Strait of Hormuz and in the middle of Indian Ocean, opens into international waters directly and is located in the vicinity of Asia and Europe’s international trade route.  In order to make Duqm port a safe, firm and a friendly gateway, the Omani government took some milestone steps. [8] With the recent arrival of SAL’s Heavy Lift MV Lone, which contained a total of 11 reactors for the new Duqm refinery, Oman’s port of Duqm set a new record for heavy load operations. One weighed about 1,131 tons and had a longitude of 34 m, 8.7 m in height and a width of 7.40 m. It was therefore the most extreme cargo handling at Duqm. The location makes the port very attractive for shipping lines, but it is also easy to cater for the large and growing Indian and African markets. The central position of Duqm within the Oman Sultanate makes a perfect ideal location for all cargoes for major projects and for oil- and gas concession regions.

In addition to the multifunctional terminal accommodates a spacious range of commercial cargo including dry bulk cargo, liquid bulk cargo, general cargo, project cargo, bagged cargo, and automotive cargo. The Duqm Economic Region is a refinery to process 230,000[9] barrels of crude oil per day, and the largest dry dock in the Middle East, with an annual capacity of 200 ships[10]. The port’s excellent accessibility, state-of-the-art facilities, value-added operations, and highly skilled workforce ensure that all forms of project and break-bulk cargo are managed reliably and carefully at the Port of Duqm.

Oman is increasing its regional presence among its neighbor, specially the United Arab Emirates.  Duqm is developing as transshipment and a commercial link between the Red Sea and the Gulf that offers links to the major sea lanes[11]. Duqm is going to be a crossroads across the Red Sea with three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa.

Duqm is playing a key role in Chinese Belt and Road Intiative (BRI) and connecting Asia to Africa and Europe as a multimillion dollar overseas investment program. In 2016, Chinese companies started to invest in Duqm up to $10.7 billion.  Duqm and Gwadar port has immense importance in the region. As these ports are very close to each other, it would be easy to trade between these states. Oman may profit from on-going tussles in the region, as it is secure and neutral state without terrorist or war threat. Port routes will be activated again between Gwadar and Duqm in Oman. Connectivity projects are hoped to bring collaboration and cooperation between the regional economies which provide new growth opportunities for the region and global business. These two countries are also planning for operating ferry service. Ferry service will take only six hours to Gwadar and Duqm port. These two ports are modern infrastructure for the 21st century and very important for the countries near the Indian Ocean region.

Duqm port has a special importance as it is located along the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea. The position is strategic because it is not only close to South Asian countries like Pakistan and India, but it is also accessible from East Africa. The future is bright for the Duqm and Gwadar port. It creates tremendous opportunities for investors and industries of the both countries to invest and expand trade between Pakistan and Oman. The future looks positive for Pakistan-Oman relations, with further diplomatic and economic cooperation for mutual benefit, promising stability and growth in Pakistan and the region.

Abdul Wahab is a strategic analysts and holds Masters Degree in Peace & Conflict Studies from NUML. Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Info Corridor.

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[1] “Port of Duqm,” Port of Duqm | Middle East Policy Council, accessed March 3, 2021, https://mepc.org/port-duqm.

[2] “Ports & Free Zones Thank You,” www.asyad.com, accessed March 3, 2021, https://asyad.om/what-we-do/ports-free-zones-thank-you/port-of-duqm.

[3] Port of Duqm, “The Port of Duqm,” Port of Duqm, accessed March 3, 2021, https://www.portofduqm.om/About/Port-of-Duqm.

[4] Port of Duqm, “The Port of Duqm,” Port of Duqm, accessed March 3, 2021, https://www.portofduqm.om/About/Port-of-Duqm.

[5] Hellenicshippingnews., “Savills: Duqm – the Number One Port in the World to Watch?,” Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide, December 7, 2020, https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/savills-duqm-the-number-one-port-in-the-world-to-watch/.

[6] “Oman’s Duqm, a New Port City for the Middle East?,” Middle East Eye, accessed March 3, 2021, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/omans-duqm-new-port-city-middle-east.

[7] Hellenicshippingnews., “Savills: Duqm – the Number One Port in the World to Watch?,” Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide, December 7, 2020, https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/savills-duqm-the-number-one-port-in-the-world-to-watch/.

[8] ONA Admin, “Duqm Port To Operate Full Swing By 2021,” My Website (My Website, December 26, 2020), https://omannews.gov.om/NewsDescription/ArtMID/392/ArticleID/25244/Duqm-Port-To-Operate-Full-Swing-By-2021.

[9] Bloomberg, “Oman Steps up Plan to Build Middle East’s Biggest Oil-Tank Farm,” Gulf Business, September 7, 2020, https://gulfbusiness.com/oman-steps-plan-build-middle-easts-biggest-oil-tank-farm/.

[10] Youssef Igrouane, “Duqm: Oman’s Emerging Port City,” Inside Arabia, August 7, 2019, https://insidearabia.com/duqm-omans-emerging-port-city/.

[11] Our Staff Report, “Pakistan, Oman Stress Connectivity between Gwadar, Duqm Ports,” The Nation (The Nation, January 30, 2019), https://nation.com.pk/31-Jan-2019/pakistan-oman-stress-connectivity-between-gwadar-duqm-ports.

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