Jebel Ali is a large commercial port and business hub on the southern outskirts of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Sandy Jebel Ali Beach is near the much frequented harbor. The area is home to a golf resort and dive centers.
About fifty years back, Jebel Ali was only a small town far away from the lights of old Dubai. But Dubai’s Ruler at the time, Sheikh Rashid, had some other plans. His decision to build a port about 40 kilometres from the centre of town astounded some. The scale of the task was grand: dredgers land reclaimed and roads built; and they constructed the Jebel Ali Village for workers’ accomodation. It was inaugurated in 1979 by Queen Elizabeth II on her landmark trip to the Middle East.
After four decades on, the DP World-operated facility has become the busiest in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world. It is the largest deep-water man-made harbour in the world. Jebel Ali has seen much regional instability and economic uncertainty and proved those early critics wrong.
Jebel Ali’s 4 terminals can easily accommodate the world’s largest ships and is a hub for cargo travelling to Asia, Africa and Europe. Simply put, It can be considered the engine of Dubai.
The statistics speak for themselves: the cargo terminal area encircles 1.4 million square metres with dozens of berths and automated cranes. And terminal 1 – one of the port’s busiest – has fifteen berths and fifty-one quay cranes. The Jebel Ali Free Zone that was established beside the port has also taken Dubai to new economic peaks. Above 8,000 companies from more than 100 countries are based there, according to the free zone. It sustains about 135,000 jobs and attracts about twenty-three per cent of Dubai’s foreign direct investment.
It has certainly helped to build Dubai’s economy, as well as having assisted in growing the city right to the border with Abu Dhabi. The once remote Jebel Ali and the new Dubai South neighbourhood have become the future of Dubai. It is home to Al Maktoum Airport, the Expo site, new hotels and residential areas. The port is a vital part of the logistical effort to make Expo 2020 a reality. And Dubai is still looking to the future. The UAE’s new railway – Etihad Rail – will link up to the port and further solidify the reputation of Jebel Ali as one of the most connected, efficient and modern ports.