DP World, which owns and runs Jebel Ali—the world’s 10th largest seaport---could set up Jammu and Kashmir’s first inland port following Thursday’s talks between visiting Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory (UT), Manoj Sinha and Chairman of DP world, H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. If it materialises, this would be the third major Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in J&K after the UAE-based Emaar and Lulu groups who have signed MoUs with the UT Government.
Accompanied with a team of his high-ranking officials, Sinha is in Dubai on a four-day visit to rope in big business houses, seeking Rs 60,000 crore domestic and foreign investment for the development of businesses and infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir.
While 250 acres of land have been identified for the UT’s first dry port in Jammu, another location is under consideration near Srinagar which would come as a veritable boon for Kashmir’s Rs 2500 crore fresh fruit industry. DP World is expected to start its J&K operations immediately after allotment of land and miscellaneous formalities with the UT and the Central government early this year.
Located in Dubai, DP World UAE is at the heart of DP World. It is home to the flagship Jebel Ali Port, the premier maritime commercial gateway and hub to a region of more than 3.5 billion people. As the region’s frontline trade enabler, DP World UAE offers integrated solutions to global companies doing business across the region. Its portfolio includes Jebel Ali Port, Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal and Coastal Bert, and P&O Marinas. It also includes Mina Al Hamriya in Dubai city and three Zones: Jebel Ali Free Zone “Jafza”, National Industries Park “NIP” Dubai Auto Zone “DAZ”, Dubai Trade & World Security.
Jebel Ali Port is the premier gateway for over 80 weekly services connecting more than 150 ports worldwide. It has been voted the “Best Seaport in the Middle East” for 24 consecutive years and is ranked amongst the largest container ports worldwide. Jebel Ali Port has the world’s largest man-made harbour. Holding the distinction of the world’s 10th largest port, it is one of the most technologically advanced ports in the world and has a handling capacity of 19.3 million TEU.
On Sinha’s second day of business on Thursday, several important MoUs for investment in J&K were signed with Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC and Noon Group. Exchange of Letters of Interest took place between Magna Waves Pvt Ltd, Emaar and LuLu groups.
The summit in Dubai has received a great response from the representatives of global companies, investors and business managers. Big business groups from UAE have shown interest in investing in J&K, marking the beginning of a new and comprehensive partnership, Sinha said in his address at the summit.
“Relationship between India and UAE has matured enough over the years to become enduring ‘Global Partners’ in the 21st Century. These are those times in the journey of Jammu Kashmir where opportunities are in plenty”, Sinha said. He asserted that J&K had a sage and conducive environment for the businesses to flourish, besides having a young population and a demographic dividend to its advantage.
“I have set the high target of economic growth for Jammu Kashmir, which is the crown jewel of India. With the ageless culture visible in the layers of history and as a witness to co-existence of almost all major religions known to humankind, Jammu Kashmir has created an inclusive cultural ecosystem for the country”, Sinha asserted.
“There is an advantage of first-mover because Jammu Kashmir is an unsaturated market and one can build a brand-new business network and tap rapidly growing opportunities in the Union Territory. I assure you; the government will be a facilitator, partner, provider, collaborator and promoter at every step to ensure a sustainable, balanced, progressive and competitive business environment for traditional core sectors and new-age technology driven sectors”, Sinha added.
The LG expressed his gratitude to the Indian community in UAE for playing a significant role in the economic development of the small Gulf country and immensely contributing to the growth of various sectors in India.
The government of Dubai has recently inked an agreement with the UT government to ramp up infrastructure investment in Jammu and Kashmir. Dubai will deliver more than a billion dollars' worth of projects—industrial parks, a medical college, a specialty hospital, logistic centres, IT towers and multi-purpose towers—in J&K. Besides, Dubai-based real estate giant, Emaar, announced plans to build a 500,000-sq ft shopping mall in Srinagar.
UAE-based retail major LuLu group on Thursday signed MoU with the UT government to invest Rs 200 billion in Jammu and Kashmir. It will set up a food processing and logistic hub.
“UAE is a launching pad for Jammu and Kashmir and its products to enter other Arab countries and the rest of the world. With the coming up of an inland port by DP world, our freight problems will be solved, and Kashmir’s products will reach the world markets. Our farmers will benefit with the production unit. We are going to have a sea change in Kashmir”, Sinha told Khaleej Times in an interview.
Asked when the mall and the port will materialise, Sinha said: “There is no delay from our side. It is in our interest that projects kickstart at the earliest and we are facilitating it.” He said the government is issuing permissions through a single-window system within 30 days. “The land acquisition has been made easier through a landmark judgment. Our electricity is cheaper than any other state. We are also offering incentives on return of investments for businesses," he said.
As investments in the strife-torn region largely hinges on the security situation, Sinha insisted that “militancy is taking its last breath in Kashmir."
“We hope it will be dead soon. The government is dealing with it,” he said. Plans are also underway to improve flight connectivity with Jammu and Kashmir. “We are looking at adding more direct flights from the UAE so that international tourists can enjoy the ‘heaven on earth,” he said.