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Drawing upon a rich maritime trading heritage dating back hundreds of years, the Gulf nation of Bahrain is tapping into the vast wealth flowing through the small island nation. The Khalifa Bin Salman Port is taking the lead to ensure the most is gained from this capital and after securing steady financial and reputational growth for the port over the last two years, steward APM Terminals Bahrain speaks to Endeavour magazine about its on-going success story.


“It is not the size, it is not the oil, it is the trading mindset,” CEO Marco Neelsen stresses. “Our competitive edge definitely is geographic location and the trade-friendliness of the country; Bahrain has a history of trading that goes back centuries. We are focused on the upper-Gulf region, encompassing Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait and therefore, we do not see the likes of Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi as direct competition.”


ahrain has indeed secured its status as one of the leading financial centres in the Arab world. As well as holding considerable stock in natural gas and oil, the island nation

wields considerable power in regards to its economy, population and modest size. Its maritime trade is its battleaxe – an important resource for in-house trade and communication - also acting as an international gateway for island-nation Bahrain to the rest of the world. The Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP), constructed on the reclaimed land in the northern province of Hidd, is the keeper to this financial access and has played a highly important role in the resurgence of the Gulf after the global economic crash, also restoring a degree of political stability in the wake of the Arab Spring. Open for business since April 2009, the port terminal is strategically located in the middle of the Arabian Gulf, complete with deep-water berths and an approach channel. KBSP positions itself ideally as a major regional distribution centre and has played an important role in the safeguarding of Bahrain’s economic future, cementing its status not only as a modern operation and able to handle container vessels, but effectively matching global industry leaders as a state-of-the-art facility. It has also been able to capitalise more efficiently on merchandise trade in the northern Gulf, particularly in comparison to the nation’s previous port Mina Salman. In June, KBSP welcomed the largest container vessel yet to enter Bahrain’s waters. The arrival of APL Antwerp, an 8100 TEU (twentyfoot equivalent unit) marked a landmark achievement for the port, and marked its success as meeting the growing requirements in the Gulf markets. As global shipping lines continue to look for efficient terminals to cater for international trade and distribution, KBSP is certainly carving out a reputation for itself as an efficient and modern port.

Endeavour Magazine | 53


Strong Guardianship APM Terminals is the steward under whose wing KBSP resides. The Hague-based company provides port management and terminal operations to more than 60 liner shipping and port customers, and holds a central role in global trade and logistics as a result of its widereaching transportation and cargo services. This year, a total of ten of APM Terminals operated or associated container facilities were cited as among the world’s 30 most productive, more than any other terminal operating group. Also, with interests in 71 port and terminal facilities, APM Terminals is certainly ideally placed to guide KBSP to a position as the undisputed leading transhipment hub in the northern Gulf. This business partnership, coupled with Bahrain’s natural geography, which places itself at close proximity to trading partners Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and a strong transport infrastructure

We are committed to this country so by employing, training and providing internships for local talent we are investing in its future.”






APM Terminals also manages the

Causeway and the US$4.5bn

entire supply chain, taking care

Qatar-Bahrain causeway project,

of the whole process from the

only strengthens the economic

moment a ship comes into port,

potential of the relationship.

until it loads cargo into lorries at

As the only port terminal

the gates.

in Bahrain, Neelsen insists that

“We provide all manner of

KBSP is much more than a

land-based services within the

simple container port, rather a

warehouses on our terminal

veritable ‘candy-box’ of different

facility so that we can strip and

activity. “Containerised traffic

stuff containers, provide storage

accounts for the major part of

and arrange delivery services; all

our business, but the handling

in all we are a one stop shop,” says

of general and dry cargoes is


another important segment,” he says. “KBSP also operates as a

Smooth Sailing

passenger terminal for Cruise

Efficiency is very important

Liners as well as a home base for

to APM Terminals, and a clear

the US Navy’s 5th fleet.”





Rather than have several

logistic strategy has encouraged

parties perform different tasks,

an increase in the productivity

at KBSP, not surprising with five decades of experience in port and

On the back of a positive

achieve its goal of becoming the

terminal operations behind them. “The number of crane lifts per hour

2012, this year has all been about

transhipment hub for Bahrain.

at the KBSP has increased from under 20 per hour to more than 30

lifting trade between Bahrain


since we took charge of port operations in Bahrain,” says Neelsen. “It

and the Eastern Province of

around half of our TEU capacity,

is simple; a quicker GMPH (gross moves per hour) means more ships

Saudi Arabia, which has become

however, we can expand quickly

and cargo can be handled and increases our theoretical capacity. Our


if needed and it would simply be

current GMPH is 33 per hour which well above the industry standard.



a case of bringing in equipment

Consistency and productivity is crucial.”

increasingly in

important the





Neelsen hopes that by instilling

when it is needed as no civil work

Regards to safety and corporate responsibility, AMP Terminals

yet more efficiency into the

is required,” he says. “Khalifa

makes it a priority to provide a sustainable and safe working

supply chain, increase in trade

Bin Salman Port is therefore a

environment for all port-users and works hard with the authorities

will only continue: “As people

“plug and play” solution and can

to ensure this objective. There is also a strong emphasis on the

start to take notice of Bahrain,

expand its terminal capacity

development of the local economy, and to this end a priority is placed

the KBSP and the potential that

within a very short notice.”

on the employment of Bahrain’s workforce to act as a catalyst for

exists here, trade will continue to

the economic development of the nation. Roughly 80% of the near

rise,” he stresses.

Under the steady guidance of APM Terminals, it seems

800-strong employees are local, and APM Terminals is the first to

There are no extravagant

KBSP will only cement its status

express the importance of this investment. “At the end of the day it’s

expansion plans in place for

further as an iconic catalyst

a Bahrain terminal so it’s important to employ and train Bahrainis,”

KBSP over the coming years, but

in Bahrain’s maritime growth

says Neelsen. “We are committed to this country so by employing,

Neelsen insists the company will

and development. This is one

training and providing internships for local talent we are investing in

continue its policy of ‘consistent

heritage set to last.

its future.”

and steady organic growth’ to

Supporting Khalifa Bin Salman Port Royal HaskoningDHV, a leading independent maritime, civil and structural, mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy is proud to have provided planning, design, construction supervision and contract management services to the new port and industrial area at Hidd from 1997 through to the completion ahead of schedule. Royal HaskoningDHV is also pleased to have continued providing supporting services including the navigation and dredging of the main channel from international waters to the port and continues with planning of the next phase of the expansion of the Bahrain Logistics Zone which serves the port. For more information please contact: Syd Bell E:



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