Direct Israel-UAE shipping route? Dubai firm bids to take over Haifa port
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Direct Israel-UAE shipping route? Dubai firm bids to take over Haifa port

Following normalization deal, DP World port operator partners with Israeli company, says it will explore establishing direct trade route from Dubai’s Jebel Ali port to Eilat

Shlomi Fogel, owner of Israeli shipping firm DoverTower (L) and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of Dubai's DP World, sign memorandum of understandings on bidding for the privatization of Haifa port, September 16, 2020. (Robbins Steinmetz PR/courtesy)
Shlomi Fogel, owner of Israeli shipping firm DoverTower (L) and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of Dubai's DP World, sign memorandum of understandings on bidding for the privatization of Haifa port, September 16, 2020. (Robbins Steinmetz PR/courtesy)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai-based port operator DP World said Wednesday it would partner with an Israeli firm in a bid to take over the country’s Haifa port, the largest shipping hub in the country.

DP World said in a statement that it signed memorandums of understanding with DoverTower, a company owned by Shlomi Fogel, the co-owner of Israel Shipyards and the Port of Eilat.

The two firms also will explore creating a direct shipping route from Dubai’s massive Jebel Ali port to Eilat, the statement said.

“DP World’s mission is to enable global trade,” DP World chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said. “Our work to build trade routes between the UAE, Israel and beyond will help our customers to do business in the region more easily and efficiently.”

An aerial view of the Haifa Port, northern Israel, June 14, 2014. (Shay Levi/Flash90)

The announcement comes a day after a White House ceremony saw Israel sign deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations.

The Israeli government in January voted to move forward with privatizing Haifa port, with the hope that its new owner would invest some $292 million in upgrading it.

DP World runs operations as far east as Brisbane, Australia, and as far west as Prince Rupert, Canada. The company has expanded aggressively into East Africa, helping the Emirati government wield influence farther afield. Moving into Israel will expand that footprint.

But with the coronavirus pandemic shutting borders and disrupting global supply chains, DP World’s profits fell 56 percent during the first half of the year. Months before, DP World started delisting from the Dubai stock exchange, returning the company to full state-ownership to help the Dubai government’s investment company repay more than $5 billion to banks.

DP World ultimately will be held by a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai World, a government investment company.

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