Sea transportation

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is bordered by two major shipping lanes: the Red Sea, which, with the Suez Canal, links the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea; and the Gulf, an extension of the Indian Ocean used mainly for exporting oil and gas.

Saudi Arabia has the largest network of ports in the Middle East. Its ports have a total of 183 berths and a combined annual capacity of 252 million tonnes. In 2010, its ports handled a total of over 142.307 million tonnes, up 8.2% on the year before. Of this, 56% was loaded, almost entirely for export, and 44% discharged.

The ports of Jubail and Jeddah are KSA's busiest, handling 43.09 million and 40.93 million tonnes a year respectively. These are followed by the ports of Yanbu (32.98 million tonnes), Jizan and Dhiba.


Liquid bulk is the most important cargo type (59.7 million tonnes in 2010, mainly oil), followed by containers (52.6 million tonnes) and dry bulk (31 million tonnes). During the year KSA's ports also handled other types of cargo, plus a total of 1.3 million passengers.

Port infrastructure investment in KSA includes the expansion of Jeddah Islamic Port to handle up to 13 million containers a year by 2020 and a new port, Ras Al-Khair. Located on the Arabian Gulf, 135 km north of Jubail, the Port of Ras Al-Khair covers 23 sq km and has involved infrastructure investment of over $700 million.

The recently opened rail- and road-served port of Ras Al-Khair will handle large volumes of phosphate, bauxite, ammonia, caustic soda and other locally extracted and processed materials.

The new King Abdullah Economic City, 120 km north of Jeddah, will include one of the largest ports in KSA. Due to open in 2013, the first phase of the port will have a capacity of 5 million containers a year. It will also have 1 km of berths for general cargo and a passenger terminal.

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