Abu Dhabi Terminals will operate the new Khalifa Port at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) when the first phase opens in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Abu Dhabi Terminals signed a letter of intent on 28 March with Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), which is developing Kizad, says Tony Douglas, chief executive officer of ADPC.

ADPC has also been granted 100 per cent foreign ownership of Kizad, meaning that companies will not have to form a joint venture with a local partner to operate in the industrial zone.

“This news signals the latest stage of our plans for Khalifa Port, which is well on target for completion late next year,” says Douglas. “Construction is 68 per cent complete and the announcement of intent to appoint ADT so well in advance of the opening will help in the development of strategy and business planning for the benefit of future customers.”

At 417 square kilometres, Kizad will be the largest industrial zone in the region when it is complete. The first phase is scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2012, at the same time that the first phase of Khalifa port will be finished. The total cost of the first phase of both developments is $7.2bn.

The port itself is being developed 4.5km offshore. When complete, the first phase will handle 2 million containers a year and 9 million tonnes of cargo. ADPC has a partnership agreement with Union Railway to develop a rail network in Kizad. The main branch of the UAE federal railway will spur off in two directions at Kizad, to zones A and B. The spur in Zone A will run all the way to Khalifa port where freight and containers can be loaded directly onto trains.