The estimated $6bn seaport at King Abdullah Economic City (Kaec) will start operation in 2012 with a capacity of 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

The original plan was to have a capacity of 20 million TEUs by 2020.

The local Port Development Company (PDC) started dredging works on the seaport in May 2010 (MEED 18:5:10).

The seaport will be 14 million square metres and will be able to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. Its location on the Red Sea will provide access to markets throughout Saudi Arabia, Europe, Asia and Africa. The UK’s Halcrow designed the port and DG Jones, also of the UK, is serving as the quantity surveyor.

The Red Sea Gateway terminal started operating at the end of 2009 and has a capacity of 1.8 million TEUs. It handled more than 500,000 TEUs in its first year of operation. It is the third terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port. Jeddah saw a growth rate of 24 per cent in 2010 in its total volume, handling nearly 30 million TEUs. Jeddah port handles 75 per cent of the total volume of Saudi Arabia’s ports.