Swiss firm sets up Saudi division to target shipbuilding sector

RIYADH (Agencies): Switzerland’s ABB Marine and Ports is setting up a local division in Saudi Arabia in a bid to expand its client base across the Kingdom’s shipping, ports and offshore sectors.

The company also aims to help develop the local shipbuilding industry, part of the Kingdom’s ambitions to diversify its economy away from a focus on the hydrocarbons sector under Saudi Vision 2030 and the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) program.

“Through the IKTVA program and Saudi Vision 2030, the country seeks new opportunities — and one of the areas for focus is shipbuilding,” Justin John, ad interim local division manager for Saudi Arabia, said in a statement. “We are delighted to accompany Saudi Arabia on its journey toward a more diverse and environmentally conscious marine sector.” Parent company ABB is a global technology company headquartered in Zurich, with around 105,000 employees in over 100 countries. As well as Saudi Arabia, the company announced this week it will expand its operations in Turkey.

The announcement comes as the Kingdom looks to develop its shipping and port sector. In December, Mawani, the Saudi Ports Authority, signed concession contracts with global port operator DP World and regional port operator the Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) to develop and operate container terminals and use Jeddah Islamic Port as a regional hub for transshipment. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in January also bought a 20 percent equity stake in Red Sea Gateway Terminal Limited, a privately owned independent terminal operator.

Meanwhile, Jeddah Islamic Port last month reported a 12 percent year-on-year increase in the number of transshipment containers processed in 2020, despite the global slowdown in trade due to the pandemic.

The port processed an extra 2.5 million standard containers last year, in line with the Kingdom’s ambition to become a global logistics center. More than 13 percent of the volume of international maritime trade passes through the port, which is considered a link between Asia, Europe and Africa.