Al Marfa Port upgrade to boost Western Region tourism

Work close to completion, bringing a trade and tourism bonanza.
The traditional dhow race is part of the Al Gharbia Watersports Festival. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The traditional dhow race is part of the Al Gharbia Watersports Festival. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) has almost completed the upgrade of Al Marfa Port that will create a centre for fishing, pleasure boating and diving in the Western Region, boosting its tourism appeal, according to its chief executive.

The work is also part of ADPC’s efforts to create a maritime corridor for the transportation of infrastructure material for projects in the Western Region, also known as Al Gharbia, reducing lorry traffic on the roads, reducing costs and establishing an internal maritime transport network to enhance maritime transport, Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi told Al Ittihad.

Designs for the development of Dalma and Silaa ports have also been finalised.

Once the work is finished at Marfa, 125 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi, the port will have floating pontoons creating 105 new berths that will allow fishermen to keep their boats in the water instead of pulling them on to shore after each trip.

Mr Al Shamisi said that 95 per cent of the work to develop the Al Marfa Port waterfront was completed at the end of last month.

ADPC said in August that it would make a Dh17 million investment at Marfa Port to develop its infrastructure and leisure facilities, part of the Al Gharbia master plan. Majestic Marine Engineering was awarded the contract for the first phase, which had been scheduled to be completed by Febraury.

A tender will be put out soon, he said, for the second phase of development that will focus on the landside infrastructure and new marina facilities, including a building for the fisherman’s association, a new fish market, restaurant and retail units, a paved area for boat parking, a dry dock area for boat maintenance and about 240 new berths.

The Al Gharbia master plan includes the development of five main ports for trade, fishing and serving local communities.

“The Western Region Ports, run by ADPC, holds an important role in the development of surrounding communities and provides one of the vital sources of income, as well as a tremendous potential for investment and investors should investments be directed to developing tourist infrastructure that would attract sea tourism,” said Mr Al Shamisi.

Tourism currently generates about Dh200 million towards the region’s GDP. Within 20 years, it expects to attract 2 million visitors, especially those coming overland from neighbouring Gulf countries. The regional GDP, excluding oil and gas, will rise to about Dh60 billion by 2030 from Dh15bn. The region’s population is also expected to triple to 450,000.

The Tourism and Culture Authority of Abu Dhabi will set up a development committee for Al Gharbia and a visitors’ centre at its border outpost Al Gweifhat aimed at overland visitors from Saudi Arabia. The region accounts for 60 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s land mass but less than 10 per cent of its population.

business@thenational.ae

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Published: May 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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