Middle East Tracks 2020 Infrastructure Target
By Jason Trenchfield
I’ve been working in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for almost a decade and have witnessed first-hand how quickly things change in the Middle East.
Long gone are the oil-dependency days, at least in terms of national strategic growth. Masterplans setting out goals through to 2020 and 2030 have shifted from increased commercial developments to increased industrial projects across the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, which has led the logistics industry to alter its mode and methods for moving goods and materials from country to country, and from sector to sector.
Whether an increase in air freight or the construction of a new port, there is evident demand to shift materials at greater speeds. For those of us in the logistics planning and transport consulting industry, we’ve waited for this moment for some time.
Imports and exports have slowed slightly based on container throughput, but this has been countered by an increase in the development of manufacturing, which has in turn boosted the national supply chain. There is also greater demand to create more multimodal transportation of freight to meet the demand led by e-commerce, which has picked up pace with more than 100,000 items being delivered per day in the UAE, attracting global companies like Amazon to invest heavily in the Middle East. The UAE is also poised for the arrival of the World Expo in 2020, which will bring with it a mass of global innovators and investors to Dubai.
This 2020 target has essentially created a gateway for development to be completed within a limited and immovable time frame, which has given wings to the supply chain as it distributes commodities in and around the country. Developers in Dubai have increased their timescales to good avail, and the logistics industry has acted accordingly. But with other changes in terms of more industrial-led projects – such as renewable energy – and providing greater sustainability projects, the region’s logistics infrastructure is reaching its limits.
Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, has also experienced growth in demand for materials. But perhaps the greatest driver of change in the region is Saudi Arabia. New developments in all sectors in Saudi Arabia are expected to change the shape of the Middle East for the next 20 years. These will require breakbulk and project cargo demand on a scale never before seen in this region.
The introduction and revitalization of rail, as one example, will take bulk shipments to a new level and create new logistics/economic cities across the GCC that will drive the economy in ways that had not been previously visualized. These are exciting times for those in the logistics, industrial and transportation industry in the Middle East region. The next steps will be the tangible introduction of technology – watch this space.
Jason Trenchfield is AECOM freight and logistics leader within the its UAE Transport Group. He has more than 20 years’ experience of formulating operation and supply chain strategies for commercial designs, construction and material logistics strategies, and design and commissioning for specialist buildings such as airports, rail and ports.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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