AD Ports Group, the operator of ports, industrial cities and free zones in the emirate, is developing one of the region’s largest food trading and logistics centres at Kizad that aims to boost food security in the region.
The new centre will also attract a number of companies to the free zone for setting up their operations.
Being developed in partnership with the UAE’s Ghassan Aboud Group, the project is expected to be ready in 18 months at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, which is owned by AD Ports Group. It will provide a platform for importers and exporters of food as well as logistics companies to expand their businesses in the region.
“The design is under way at the moment and part of the facility is under construction, and I would expect around 18 months for the first trading platform to be operational, subject to Covid-related developments,” Graham Sanders, chief executive of Ghassan Aboud Group told The National on the sidelines of a media briefing on Wednesday. He did not disclose the total investment in the project.
Ghassan Aboud Group is a UAE-based conglomerate with interests in food and other sectors. France’s Rungis International Market, which runs a similar platform in France, is also involved in the development of the new hub.
The project comes at a time when food security has become important after supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The UAE and other countries are supporting a number of ventures focused on boosting food security in the region.
“Food security and safety are among the top priorities of the UAE and this major new trade hub will drive efficiencies in food supply chains and help improve safety, affordability and sustainable access for wholesalers,” said Rashid Al Blooshi, undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and chairman of logistics sector development committee in the emirate.
Covering an area of 3.3 square kilometres, the regional food hub will feature trading pavilions, logistics services, refrigerated warehouses to store food and vegetables, and waste recycling facilities among others.
AD Ports Group, which made its debut on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange on Tuesday and raised Dh4 billion ($1.1bn) from its share sale, is looking to expand its operations across the globe. Last year, the company signed multiple partnership agreements with Jordan’s Aqaba Development Corporation to develop tourism, logistics, transport and digital infrastructure in Aqaba.
It also signed an agreement with the Egyptian Group for Multipurpose Terminals, the commercial arm of the Egyptian Ministry of Transportation, to develop and operate a multipurpose terminal in Safaga Port on the Red Sea.
“The [new] project will cater to food security across the UAE,” said Abdullah Al Hameli, head of the industrial cities and free zone cluster at AD Ports Group. “From here, we can expand to nearby countries [such as] Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and go international.”
Last year, Kizad announced the development of a green ammonia plant, with up to $1bn of investment over the coming years. There will be a few more similar projects, Mr Al Hameli said. “Some of them will be exporting energy internationally and we have few others”, that cater to the domestic market.
“This is following our leadership looking at the green hydrogen and how we can be more environment-friendly,” he said.
Helios Industry, a private special projects company, is developing the green ammonia plant in two phases alongside local and international partners.
The UAE is currently pursuing a Net Zero by 2050 strategy and is developing a number of clean energy projects with investments worth Dh600bn.
Kizad is a 410-sq km industrial zone next to Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port, which began operations in 2012. It is a subsidiary of AD Ports Group, which is owned by state holding company ADQ.