Expansion projects and new investments are expected to fuel growth within the UAE’s logistics sector over the next five years, according to a recent analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The positive outlook is supported by expectations of strong growth in the country’s air and sea freight markets.
The analysis, based on recent data from Business Monitor International, forecasts the UAE's air freight market to expand by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8% over the 2017-2021 period.
It also showed demand within the country’s air freight market increasing at a CAGR of 8.6% between 2012 and 2016.
Dubai International Airport handled 2.6mn tonnes of cargo in 2016, with freight volume growth of 3.8% compared to 2015, the analysis showed, while Abu Dhabi Airport handled nearly 800,000 tonnes of cargo during the same year.
In 2017, air freight volumes at Dubai International Airport are expected to grow 5% in 2017, and increase at a CAGR of 3.2% over the next five years. At Abu Dhabi Airport, air freight volumes are projected to grow 12% this year and record a CAGR of 5.2% over the 2017-2021 period.
The UAE’s two leading airports have continued to invest in expanding and enhancing facilities in recent years.
Emirates SkyCargo recently opened a new pharmaceuticals facility at Dubai International Airport to accommodate growing demand for pharmaceutical and cold storage products. Going forward, the expansion of cold-chain logistics services at both airports is expected to further increase air freight volumes in the UAE.
Both Emirates and Etihad Airways have played an important role in air cargo in the UAE and will continue to contribute to increasing air cargo volumes over the next five years.
The UAE has the largest container port between Singapore and Rotterdam, while the country serves as a maritime hub for the Middle East region. In 2016, container port traffic in the UAE amounted to 21.3mn TEUs. This figure is expected to rise 5% to 22.4 million TEUs in 2017, and increase further to reach a record of 28.4 million TEUs by 2021.
Container traffic at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port is forecast to Jebel Ali witness a CAGR of around 6% between 2017 and 2021. Over the next five years, container traffic in Sharjah is forecast to record a CAGR of around 3.2%, while container traffic handled at Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port will likely increase at a CAGR of 13.5% over the same period.
The analysis highlighted the potential impact of expanding ports in the UAE and further developing their facilities. Jebel Ali Port, managed by DP World, is investing $1.6bn with the aim of increasing the port's total capacity to 22.1mn containers.
Abu Dhabi Ports Company plans to expand Khalifa Port by 100km2 by mid-2018 to accommodate more industries and keep pace with rapid growth within the sector.
H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that the logistics sector is among the key sectors driving the UAE’s economic growth.
He noted that recent expansions, investment and improvements within the sector have strengthened Dubai’s position as a global trade hub and enhanced the competitiveness of the UAE economy.