Qatar’s New Port Project will receive its first cargo in July about a year ahead of schedule. After the arrival of ship-to-shore cranes, the first vessels will bring in freight that requires little customs duties – most likely livestock or cars.

Hamad Port’s first phase was originally planned to be operational in 2016, but this has been brought forwards. Musair al-Qutami, acting project executive director on the New Port Project (NPP), revealed this at MEED’s Qatar Projects conference in Doha in March. He also explained that the initial timeline for the completion of the $7.4bn scheme has been pulled forwards by a decade – from 2030 to 2020 – on the orders of Qatar’s prime minister.

Need for imports

The combination of the interlinked projects boom and population explosion in the country means there is a need to import consumables such as food, as well as other items including automobiles and white goods. There is also a requirement to import construction materials to build the projects that will support Qatar’s hosting of the football World Cup 2022.

Pressure has been building on the existing Doha port for some time. It is cramped, with only road access through the crowded streets of Doha and limited expansion capacity thanks to its crowded surroundings.

Key fact

By the time the port is fully operational, capacity will stand at more than 12 million TEUs

TEUs=20-foot-equivalent units. Source: MEED

The port handles about 350,000 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) a year, as well as 4 million tonnes of cargo. It has nine quays with a total length of 1,700 metres, and has two container berths of 600 metres and 207 metres, used by Qatar Flour Mills. There are warehouses, 100,000 square metres of storage yards and a 500-tonne-capacity cold store. The port also operates the 750-metre dhow marina, which is used primarily for trade with other GCC countries and employs more than 400 people.

The new Hamad Port will add 2 million TEUs of capacity when it is opened, and the overall development will bring capacity to 12 million TEUs. The project was announced in October 2007, when the New Doha Port Project Steering Committee was formed to oversee its construction.

Throughout its planning, design and construction, the scheme was known as both New Doha Port and Mesaieed Port, after its location south of the capital. At its inauguration on 9 February, when flooding of its main basin began, its new name was announced: Hamad Port. The project will cover 26.5 square kilometres when it is complete, and will consist of the port itself, a new naval base for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces and the Qatar Economic Zone 3, with its own canal.

The lead engineering design consultant is Australia’s WorleyParsons; the programme management consultant is the US’ Aecom and the environmental consultant is Denmark’s Cowi. Dutch firm Royal Haskoning and US-based URS are also consultants.

Current tenders
Package Status Award Completion
Lagoon infill Tender evaluation Q1 2015 Q3 2015
QENFB buildings package 1 Issued for tender Q2 2015 Q1 2017
QENFB buildings package 2 Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q2 2017
QENFB buildings package 3 Issued for tender Q3 2015 Q2 2017
General port equipment: mobile cranes Tender evaluation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: mobile harbour cranes Tender evaluation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: forklifts Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: tractors Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: trailers Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: infrastructure facilities Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
General port equipment: fire fighting equipment Tender preparation Q3 2015 Q4 2015
QENFB=Qatar Emiri Naval Forces Base. Source: NPP

In terms of sticking to the QR27bn budget, Al-Qutami told MEED’s conference: “So far, we are doing OK.” Outlining the progress made so far, he said the navy basin was 80 per cent complete by the end of February, with 10,300 bricks laid on the quay wall. Excavation of the economic zone canal’s access channel was 96 per cent finished, and its basin was 75 per cent complete.

A joint venture of local firms CDC and Boom Construction has begun work on the port’s customs area. When completed, it will allow authorities to screen all cargo that passes through. Most ports only screen 5-10 per cent of their through flow, says Al-Qutami. The contract, awarded in the third quarter of last year, was worth QR863m. It is estimated that there will be 14,000 truck movements a day, excluding private vehicles, when the port is fully developed.

Transport links

Hamad Port is part of a larger transport and logistics plan for Doha. It will be accessible not only to the new Hamad International airport, but also to the rail network Qatar is building, and then to the wider GCC system when it is completed. The link to trans-regional freight trains means the port could serve a wider customer base than just Qatar; with easy cargo links to the GCC by rail, it could become a hub for breaking sea cargo and shipping it overland to neighbouring states.

Meanwhile, there are plans to refurbish the old port as a cruise ship terminal. This will help bring in more visitors to Qatar as it struggles to fill its empty hotel rooms before and after the rush of visitors for the football tournament. It could also help to temper a potential oversupply of beds by allowing the authorities to bring in passenger liners and use them as floating hotels for the duration of the competition, and then send them on their way.

At the MEED conference, attendees discussed the possibility of using the UAE’s Port of Ruwais as an alternative to Qatar, in order to ease up 30-day waits for stock and supplies.

But the new port will add a lot of capacity. It will be built in three phases. The first will have a capacity of two million TEUs a year in addition to two million tonnes of general cargo. By the time the complex is fully operational, the second to fifth phases will have added a new container terminal each to bring capacity to more than 12 million TEUs.

Additional capacity

The new port will include facilities for handling general cargo, and equipping and servicing offshore supply vessels. It will have a specialised terminal for importing vehicles, and a large dock terminal. Due to its closeness and logistics links to the economic zone and Mesaieed Industrial City, it is hoped the port will bolster the growth of local industry and help manoeuvre the country’s economy away from a reliance on oil and gas.