Sharjah Ports Authority is studying options to enlarge the emirate's main port facilities at Mina Khalid, in the Gulf, and Khorfakkan, on the Arabian Sea. The proposed expansion would entail adding another deepwater berth to the existing container terminal at Khorfakkan, and deepening the alongside draft at Mina Khalid to allow access for the new generation of post-Panamax container vessels. The UK's Halcrow Grouphas been requested to update a masterplan for the expansion, which dates back to 1996. Both ports are operated by Sharjah-based Gulftainer Company.
After five years of consistent growth, Sharjah's ports are close to exceeding their existing freight handling capacity. Traffic through Khorfakkan this year has been running about 20 per cent above levels in 2001, when the terminal handled 1,089,866 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The port has a capacity to handle 1.7 million TEUs a year.
Mina Khalid, which mainly handles local import and export cargo, has also seen a marked increase in its business, up 11 per cent so far this year. It handled 110,310 TEUs in 2001. Improving the port's facilities is intended to attract another major shipping line to those already using the port, which include US-registered Global Container Line, the Danish Maersk Sealandand Swiss-registered Mediterranean Shipping Company.