Consolidating its position as the best connected country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has improved its performance on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) Liner Shipping Connectivity Index for the third quarter of 2021. Recording the highest increase in the region on the index, the Kingdom's rating increased to 70.68 from 70.13 in the corresponding quarter last year as a result of its sustained efforts to strengthen its logistics competitiveness and bolster its position in international maritime transport networks.
Under the supervision of the Saudi Ports Authority (MAWANI), Saudi Arabia has sharpened its focus on further developing its ports and transportation infrastructure and expanding line shipping connectivity besides improving border and customs procedures and reducing trade costs. To meet the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, the Authority has been promoting and supporting logistical and operational capacity-building efforts in the Kingdom's nine ports.
MAWANI launched five new shipping routes over the past two years, including the IO3 line that was launched in January this year to link Jeddah Islamic Port with the Indian Ocean and northern European ports. The new lanes have contributed to the increase in the total volume of containers handled by 116% to reach 418,462 TEUs between January and September 2021.
Commenting on the announcement, H.E. Omar Hariri, President of the Saudi Ports Authority, said: “Saudi Arabia's continuing solid performance on UNCTAD's index since 2019 signifies its distinguished position as a country increasingly connected to the world and global economy. Through infrastructural upgrades and operational capability enhancements, our national ports have significantly improved the Kingdom's maritime connectivity and competitiveness. At MAWANI, we take pride in our contributions to these remarkable accomplishments and would like to extend our deepest gratitude to H.E. the Minister of Transport and Logistics Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser for his leadership and extensive support of our ongoing endeavors."
H.E. Hariri added: “We remain committed to furthering our efforts to reach new successes as envisaged in Vision 2030 by bolstering our ports' capabilities. We are keen on capitalizing on the Kingdom's opportunistic position at the crossroads of three continents to position it as a leading global logistics hub and contribute to the growth of the national economy in general and the local ports sector in particular."
The UNCTAD index measures a country's level of integration into global liner shipping networks every quarter and aims to help nations identify challenges and find opportunities to develop and improve their performance in logistics services. The Liner Shipping Connectivity Index consists of six components including the number of scheduled ship calls per week in the country, total deployed capacity offered at the country in standard units, and the number of regular liner shipping services from and to the country.