Dubai hosts the region’s biggest
automotive trading hub and the largest used car market should come as no surprise. Dubai’s
strategic location as a gateway between Europe, Asia and Africa, coupled with its unique
logistics infrastructure has ensured the steady rise of the automotive sector in the emirate.
Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) a leading trade and logistics hub in the Middle East, part of DP
World Group, facilitated over 1.2 million metric tonnes (MT) from Dubai’s total volume of around
4.8 million MT of vehicle & transport commodities transited through the emirate in 2021. This
equates to USD12.4 billion, more than a third of the total trade worth USD31.3 billion.
Enabling The Rise of The Auto Industry
Jafza has been a significant contributor to the automotive industry’s progress in the country. Its
unique logistics infrastructure and global trade network, in specific have ensured the steady rise
of the automotive sector, connecting African, Asian and Middle Eastern traders to consumers
across the world.
With companies from 70 countries and a workforce of nearly 8,000, Jafza’s infrastructure and
trade volumes are an attraction for industry giants such as Ford, General Motors, Honda,
Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo. The free zone’s multimodal ecosystem
connects traders with more than 260 airports via Al Maktoum International Airport and over 150
ports with direct services to Jebel Ali Port. It also gives them access to the GCC road network
and the Etihad Rail that will commence operations in 2023 and has the Jebel Ali Rail Terminal
among the first stations in its network.
Additionally, smart trading solutions and benefits such as 0 per cent VAT and corporate tax help
businesses operate efficiently as international distribution centres.
Integrated Automotive Logistics
While the Jebel Ali Port is integral to automotive trade in general, it is a steady contributor to the
export and import of used cars. Thus, reinforcing Dubai’s status as a major export hub for used
cars in the UAE and the MENA region. Due to a consistent demand for used cars, according to
a report by Ken Research, the UAE’s used car market is expected to reach AED 112 billion in
revenue by 2025. As long as this demand exists, DP World, through its UAE assets will continue
recording tremendous growth in the coming years for the automotive sector.
Jebel Ali Port’s state-of-the-art roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) terminal plays a pivotal role in this ongoing
success. The port has RoRo berths which can handle up to 1 million car equivalent units
(CEUs). It can also store up to 27,000 CEUs within its quay-side yards, including a multistorey
facility, the largest in the region. Adjacent container stuffing and de-stuffing services are also
significant advantages for partners.
Prior to import or export from the Port, automotive manufacturers, dealers and importers can
also utilise the Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) facilities in Jafza for services such as light
accessory fitting, vehicle storage, washing, age prevention and audio system installation.
Moreover, including third-party logistics (3PL), container services and automated customs
clearance and brokerage, has created a one-stop eco-system in Jafza that caters to importers,
exporters and OEM distribution.
Reinforcing International Trade
While physical infrastructure has been the foundation of Jafza’s success, it has been supported
by bespoke solutions provided by DP World Logistics to optimise supply chain operations for
These include fourth-party logistics (4PL) activities and track and trace technology to enable
transparency and simplicity across logistics activities, trade financing, feedering and reverse
logistics. Global automotive customers can leverage DP World’s global presence across 78
countries, including dedicated RoRo facilities in Cyprus, Romania, Germany and Dubai.
DP World’s acquisition of Syncreon in July 2021 also enables the company to deliver end-to-
end solutions to cargo owners. Syncreon operates across high-growth automotive industries
with services such as receipt of materials, warehousing, inventory management,
kitting/sequencing for line feeding, and export packaging.
DP World’s European network comprises 12 inland terminals, strategically located in economic
centres throughout Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France. DP World also provides tri-
modal connectivity between inland terminals in major European ports through 60 weekly barge
services and over 100 rail connections.
Connecting Businesses Across Africa with The World
The UAE contributes 21 per cent of the automotive trade in Africa, equating to approximately 7
billion MT of cargo annually.
Africa is a continent of 54 countries and 1.4 billion people. Its diverse population is also notably
young — with a median age of just 20 — and growing fast. By the end of this century, Africa
could host more than four billion people. New connections within the region and to the rest of
the world can help Africa take advantage of its population boom, creating a new global
automotive demand centre.
Specifically, the UAE plays an indispensable role in the trade of spare parts, a time-sensitive
and operationally complex logistics activity. Rapid industrialisation and accelerated urbanisation
throughout the continent of Africa have ensured that today, the continent’s roads have
approximately 22 million vehicles. This has led to a sharp rise in demand for spare parts
materials, consequently increasing the demand for DP World’s services.
The company now provides multimodal transportation solutions that facilitate trade with Nigeria,
Ghana, Egypt, Angola and Senegal. The recent acquisition of South Africa-based Imperial
Logistics strengthened DP World’s intra-Africa network and range of services delivered. DP
World’s world-class infrastructure such as its investment and expertise in ports in Africa,
combined with Imperial’s logistics and market access platforms will enable trade along key trade
lanes, also driving greater supply chain efficiencies, and enhancing value for stakeholders.
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