The MoU will see the two companies develop the seaport component of KAEC – located 100 kilometres north of Jeddah – which will be the largest in the in the Red Sea and one of the 10 ports in the world with a handling capacity of more than 20 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent container units).

The construction schedule calls for a multipurpose cargo terminal to become operational by mid-2010 and a 1.6 million TEU container terminal by mid-2011, after which the capacity of the port will continue to be increased in several phases.

Once fully complete, the port is expected to contribute an average SR10bn ($2.6bn) to the kingdom’s GDP annually, according to Emaar and DP World.

A source at SAGIA commented that it was keen to capitalise on DP World’s experience. “We are trying to utilise their expertise in port management. They have done similar work on a smaller scale for 23 years at Jebel Ali Free Zone, so why not capitalise on their expertise and expand it to an actual city,” he said.

DP World is currently the fourth largest port operator in the world, with a portfolio of 43 terminals across 28 countries.