The Final Countdown

With a little over one week to go until the official inauguration of Khalifa Port, The Big Project catches up with Abu Dhabi Ports Company CEO Tony Douglas

While construction have taken only a little over two years, planning on Khalifa Port and Kizad began in 2006. How does it feel to be so close to completion on this project?

There is a lot of excitement at ADPC right now. Nearly two and a half years ago we made a commitment to deliver Khalifa Port and the first part of Kizad, the industrial zone, on September 1. Even our screen savers are a giant countdown clock and everywhere you go in this organisation that countdown is present.

It has been a very disciplined process and now the first phase is rapidly approaching the end and that’s great.

We have an organisation that has been waiting for this moment for a long time and we are very much now in the transition of becoming an operational asset. The end users have got their hands over their new toys, we it were, and they are all very excited

What are the challenges of keeping a project of this size on track?

We have had a process over the last six months in particular where every week we have had a number of important mile stones.

All have been carefully scheduled to correspond to delivering us bang on time and I think we have been fortunate that we have been able to execute such a big plan.

As many will acknowledge, big projects don’t always end at the precise time you say and they seldom finish on time and on budget so we are very pleased. I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to big projects. You have to break them down into bite size pieces, on short time scales, because otherwise everybody gets locked into ‘well three years in the future is a very long time’, and that anything can be forgiven in the short term.

We used the ‘100 Step Plan’ to keep the entire project on track and almost everybody in Abu Dhabi has a copy of that plan. This was then subdivided into  ‘100 Day Sprints’ and

How does this port compare to some of the other maritime mega projects in the Middle East?

Not surprisingly, they are all very different, just like airports and big train stations; transport infrastructure tends to get master planned around what the current need is and what the anticipation of the future need is.

Because Mina Zayed will transfer to Khalifa Port it won’t start from zero, it will start from where we left off the day before at Mina Zayed, but with three times the capacity.

Then you have to remember that this is a deep water port with an industrial zone, or even an industrial zone with a deep water port.

It’s a kind of link piece of economic strategy and that’s why Khalifa Port will continue to develop.

The ports in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Qatar, are not linked to an industrial zone. They are destination ports and will only grow to a certain extent.

A full roundup of Khalifa Port and phase one of Kizad will feature in October issue of the new look Big Project Middle East


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