Around the Middle East

A new service offered by Safeen Feeders links the UAE, Sudan and Saudi Arabia

The route of the Safeen Prestige, which arrived in Jeddah on 26 November 

Amidst recent announcements of blank sailings it’s good to hear stories of new services being added. Major carriers have responded to reduced demand for shipments and falling freight rates by missing out port calls or suspending entire services altogether. Most of the reduced services are east to west bound from China.

In the Middle East, however, Safeen Feeders – part of AD (Abu Dhabi) Ports Group – recognised a gap in the market for a new UAE-Red Sea service calling at the Port Sudan to the west and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia opposite on the east coast. Khalifa will be the hub port, with Fujairah also included as “ the addition of Fujairah Terminals will provide a much-needed stop on the UAE’s east coast, reducing the need for cargo to be transferred by road,” said Safeen Feeders in a statement on 10 November.

The new Red Sea service.
The new Red Sea service. Credit: Safeen Feeders

Although Safeen Feeders did not respond to a request for information about which vessel(s) would operate on the new route, research on the MarineTraffic Live Map suggests that 17,00-teu Safeen Prestige, one of the operator’s 11 containerships, is currently making the round trip. The Live Map shows the Prestige leaving Fujairah on 19 November, arriving in Jeddah on 26 November and then sailing in a southwesterly direction to Port Sudan, after nine days of sailing around Oman and Yemen and up into the Red Sea. 

Safeen Prestige takes the one-day journey across the Red Sea - scheduled to arrive in Port Sudan on 28 November
Safeen Prestige takes the one-day journey across the Red Sea – scheduled to arrive in Port Sudan on 28 November

These vessel movements suggest that the round trip will take about 15 days to complete, offering fast access to the cities of Jeddah and Sudan from the UAE and saving time for businesses moving cargoes between the three countries.

The new service is good news for Sudan. As the country’s main seaport, Port Sudan generates 90 percent of the country’s international trade, as well as being the key gateway for its landlocked neighbours of South Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic. It is situated around 900 km from the country’s capital, Khartoum.

Further, it is strategically located near the Suez Canal, which links the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and is the quickest way to reach European markets from the Middle East.

According to the US department for commerce, Sudan exported $317 million in crude oil in 2020 and a significant amount of this would  have moved through the Red Sea port. MarineTraffic data shows that oil and chemical tankers make up 12 percent of vessel calls at the port. Bulker tonnage accounts for 30 percent of port calls and general cargo vessels, 24 percent t. Containerships, meanwhile, account for only seven  percent of tonnage to call at the port’s four container berths.

Port Sudan vessel calls from 11 November.
Port Sudan vessel calls from 11 November. Source: MarineTraffic

Container call figures will increase now that the new service is operational. Safeen Feeders said in the statement: “Safeen Group is achieving rapid growth because we see unmet needs in the market and can rapidly provide a modern fleet supported by a high level of customer service to address them.”

Looking east to the other side of the Red Sea, sits Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s largest port. 

Port of Jeddah vessel calls from 11 November.
Port of Jeddah vessel calls from 11 November. Source MarineTraffic

Here container traffic represents 40 percent of vessel arrivals, reveals MarineTraffic data. The port has several container berths, with international terminal operator DP World operating seven berths. Reuters announced in June this year that the Dubai-based company would be opening a new logistics park at the port. 

The new UAE-Red Sea route has advantages on a local level, as it offers another service between Khalifa port in the Persian Gulf and Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman. 

Safeen Feeders said: “Khalifa Port will serve as a main transit hub, while the addition of Fujairah Terminals will provide a much-needed stop on the UAE’s east coast, reducing the need for cargo to be transferred by road. Importers and exporters will save significant transit time by using the direct route, which is up to four times faster than alternative transshipment services that can take as long as 30 days”.

The UAE-based Safeen Feeders also offers services to UAE/China, Singapore/Chennai/Colombo, UAE Coastal/Oman and UAE/India/Gulf services. The company also stated that the new service is part of an ongoing expansion of international routes.

In September it announced a new UAE-China service, deploying Safeen Power to the route and connecting the Chinese ports of Shanghai, Qingdao and Ningbo directly with Khalifa Port. It represents the company’s first call in China despite China’s shrinking export figures that have caused other lines to announce blank sailings. Here’s hoping it fills its ships.

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