King Abdullah Port (locode SAKAC) is a Red Sea cruise port and Saudi Arabia’s newest commercial (cargo and passenger) port that serves KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City). The modern facility is part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan for building a competitive economy with diversified (non-oil) industries.
The seaport covers a total area of 17,4 km2 (7 mi2) and is approx 90 km (55 mi) north of Jeddah - the second-largest Arabian port (after Dubai) and Saudi Arabia's largest by trade city. The seaport is well-connected via highways to major and industrial cities (like Rabigh and Yanbu al-Bahr).
King Abdullah Port (as project) was established in 2010 and completed/inaugurated in 2019. The huge facility has modern logistics, provides high-quality shipping services and has capacity to handle megaships (even the world's largest container carriers and passenger liners) thus increasing the country's import and export volumes. Cargoes shipped through King Abdullah Port include mainly food (including dairy products), pharmaceuticals, building materials, crude oil, petrochemicals, transhipment of goods to countries in the Middle East and North-East Africa (~400 million Arab consumers). The Port has separate Passenger Terminal (serving cruise ships, superyachts, sailing yachts), Bulk Terminals (drybulk and liquid bulk cargoes), Ro-Ro Terminal (serving vehicles and wheeled cargoes), Processing & Service Zone and Marine Service Complex.
Unlike other Saudi Arabian ports, King Abdullah Port is the Kingdom's first seaport that was privately developed and is owned and managed by private companies via Ports Development Company. Among those are Almarai (Kingdom's largest dairy company) and 10 of the world's largest container shipping companies (including the top-3: MAERSK, MSC, CMA-CGM). Ports Development Company is a joint venture between Emaar (King Abdullah Economic City) and Huta Marine Works Ltd (part of Huta Group) specializing in construction and marine works and services. The joint venture developed, financed, build and operates the seaport exclusively.
As cruise port, KAEC was introduced in 2020 when the luxury brand Silversea Cruises chartered its ship Silver Spirit to Red Sea Cruises for two months (August 27 through October, 2020). The 600-passenger superyacht offered 3- and 4-day roundtrips from King Abdullah Port for domestic tourists only.
Red Sea Cruises is owned by Saudi Arabia's PIF (sovereign wealth fund) and the charter voyages were part of Saudi Tourism Authority's "Saudi Summer" campaign to encourage residents to explore the kingdom following the lifting of the Coronavirus lockdown. Saudi Summer was via partnership with local tour operators and the country's Ministry of Health.
King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC)
KAEC-King Abdullah Economic City is a 2005-2020 project for building a new city on the Red Sea coast, approx 1,5-hour drive from Mecca, approx 3-hours drive from Medina and approx 1-hour flight from all Arabian capital cities. The city cost ~SAR 207 billion (~USD 55,2 B / ~EUR 46 B) and was built by Emaar Properties (Dubai-based real estate development company/one of the world’s largest) and SAGIA (Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Investment).
KAEC is one of the country's five economic cities and was fully completed in 2020. These projects aimed to bring direct investments (foreign and domestic), diversify Saudi Arabia's oil-based economy, create up to 1 million jobs and also to lower the congestion in the country's largest cities. Saudi Arabia's four cities interconnected by Al-Haramain High-Speed Railway are KAEC, Jeddah, Mecca and Medina.
The 5 new cities in Saudi Arabia include KAEC, NEOM (futuristic-planned, SAR 1,9 trillion/USD 500 billion), Qiddiya Entertainment City (2019-started, 2022-opened), Amaala (eco-city with mega-resorts/wellness-themed) and Al Faisaliah (extension of Mecca's western part with estimated population 6,5 million by 2050, airport, waterfront leisure complex, ~1 million residential properties for citizens and pilgrims).
KAEC is divided into 6 main areas - Industrial Zone, Sea Port, Sea Resort, Educational Zone, CBD (Financial Island) and Residential Suburbs.
- Industrial Valley (63 km2/4400 hectares) is designed for manufacturing factories, research and development labs, office-education-community buildings.
- King Abdullah Port (17 km2, max draft 18 m) has annual boxship capacity 20+ million TEU-containers. National Container Terminal (port's first operator) has 4 berths and can handle various cargoes via STS (ship-to-shore gantry cranes) with reach 25 TEUs.
- Residential Suburbs include ~260,000 apartments, ~56,000 luxury villas, commercial (shopping malls) and recreational zones (with extensive for the residential area parks and playgrounds), mosques, shops, theaters.
- Sea Resort is designed to target foreign tourists with top-quality services, amenities and entertainment options. The suburb houses 120+ hotels (~25,000 rooms), shopping malls, recreational facilities - including an 18-hole Golf Course (with driving range and training facilities), horseback riding club, yacht club, water sports marina.
- Educational Zone consists of a university campus (18,000 students plus 7500 staff) flanked by two RD parks (Research and Development).
- Central Business District (3,8 km2) houses office buildings, hotels, commercial facilities. Positioned within the CBD, The Financial Island (14 hectares) is currently the largest financial center housing all the world’s largest financial companies (banks, investment funds, insurance groups).
The KAEC city's main developer is Emaar Properties which contracted for the project large companies like Orange Business Services (Smart City telecom services), Ericsson (fixed broadband networks), Cisco Systems (IT networks), GEMS World Academy (operates city's first school / 2009-opened), StrateSphere Enterprises and PolymerOhio (KAEC Plastics Valley zone within the Industrial Valley), CEMCCO (Industrial Zone's infrastructure), DP World Dubai (KAEC Sea Port), Mars Inc (confectionery and food manufacturer), Capri Capital Partners, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, Saudi Binladin Group (construction of 16x residential towers), Siemens (electricity transmission and distribution).