Freight forwarders that are moving goods between Qatar and the UAE are tapping into Omani ports in order to work around the existing maritime, air and road blockade that has been imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain since 6 June.
According to a multinational company operating in Dubais Jebel Ali Free Zone, one option is to ship container or cargo by sea from Hamad Port to Salalah Port in southern Oman, which takes between three to four days. The shipment is then offloaded at Salalah Port, where import and export documents are processed and the point of origin is changed from Qatar to Oman. The processing time takes between three to four days to complete.
If the freight forwarder is registered with Salalah Free Zone, then it only needs to pay import and export processing fees and will not be charged customs duties for the cargo.
From Salalah, the shipment is loaded onto a vessel that heads to Jebel Ali Port.
Another option is to ship cargo by ocean freight from Hamad Port to Sohar Port, midway between Dubai where Jebel Ali Port is located and Omans capital Muscat. The trip takes between one to two days. From Sohar Port, the goods may be transported by road to Jebel Ali Free Zone or any chosen destination.
The forced changes in route mean that shipping time has increased to between eight to 10 days, compared to the previous land route between Qatar and Jebel Ali Port that took only four to five days.
Shipping costs have also increased accordingly.
A source at one of Omans ports confirmed an uptick in traffic at Omani ports in the aftermath of the blockade, but that they expect this trend to be temporary until the conflict is resolved.
Kuwait and Oman have maintained a neutral stance in the ongoing blockade that aims to change Qatars foreign policies that contradict with those adopted by the Saudi-led bloc.