Dubai International take over Aden Port [Archives:2005/885/Reportage]

October 13 2005

ADEN Oct. 8 – An executive in the Free Zone expects that the final pass of Aden port to Dubai International will be during this October. A Yemeni Organization in London has at the same time re-appealed to the World Bank to make it stop the Yemeni government's negotiations with the company.

Dr. Mohamed Al-Widhn, deputy of the General Authority for the Free Zones, told 'Shora net' that negotiations are continuing with Dubai International Company, which according to the agreement will be responsible for operating the container port in Aden.

Dr. Al-Wadhn said 'the pass of the port will be in next January as planned.'

Yemeni Human Rights Watch in Britain has requested the World Bank 'to exert pressure to stop the negotiations' with the company, as the World Bank is an international organization that supervises the Yemeni reform program.

In a letter to the Deputy Manager of The World Bank, Michael Cline, Yemeni Human Rights Watch alleged that the negotiations between the Yemeni government and the company are suspicious, and that the organization possesses documents that prove both this and discrepancies in interests between Dubai port and Aden port.

Dr. Al-Wadhn from the Aden Free Zone said 'Our files are open for any internal or external bodies'.

Parliamentary sources are skeptic of the Dubai Company's intentions of developing Aden Port, because it will happen on the expense of other ports, especially the Dubai Free Zone. The two ports are supposed to be rivals.

MP Al-Wajeeh accused the government of ignoring the vital economical general welfare. He added that he is skeptical because of personal interests that took place behind closed doors, pointing out that the economic faults of the government have increased.

Dubai International and local investors have won a 35 years bid of operating Aden Container port for $85.5 million in rent, in addition to $400 million for technical and construction appliances.

Dubai International owns 51% of the shares of Aden Company, while other local investors own 49%. On top of these local investors is the Saudi businessman Ahmed Abdullah Bog Shan, who is of Yemeni origin.

Yemeni Human Rights Watch in Britain accuses government officials of plotting to knock down the bid on Dubai International, in spite of the fact that a Kuwaiti bid was $4924 million.

Lutfi Shatara from the organization said that they will hand over their documents to the World Bank, confirming that their documents will be enough to cancel the agreement. Lufti Shatara confirmed the fact that deal between ministers in the government and the Dubai International and its partner Bogshan, was a prior agreement.

Reliable sources confirmed that the Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development and Telecommunication led the negotiations with the company, which is headed by PM Abulqadir Ba-jamal.

Dr. Al-Wadhn from the Aden Free zone said that there were no objections from any of the companies engaged in the bid, following the winning of Dubai International. He said that the World Bank participated through a financial representative, adding that the World Bank is aware of the transparency of the bid and their documents.

Britain based Yemeni Human Rights Watch is doubtful that the company can and will live up to their commitment of receiving 700 thousand containers in its first year and 900 thousands in the second year. The organization assesses that the eminent maximum capacity of the port will not exceed 500 thousand. The 700 thousand capacity needs extra equipments that could not be available within two months.

Dubai International now runs the ports of Jabal Ali, Djibouti Islamic Jeddah and in near future also Aden port. This will undermine any future competitive power for Aden port. An expert study from the World Bank confirmed that the development of Aden and Salaleh ports endanger the future development of Dubai Free Zone.

The government terminated the contract of Singapore Yemen Vest (and paid it a compensation of $200 million), after ten years of the contract, whose viciousness parliamentarians and economists warned about ten years ago.

Local sources in Aden report that the ex-Singapore manager of Yemen Vest became manager for the Free Zone for $100 thousand a month, as the assets of the company became a Free Zone property.