UAE investor wins major port tender
By Christina Tashkevich
Monday, March 31
The Georgian government announced last week that it picked investors from the United Arab Emirates to manage a free economic zone in Poti and upgrade the town’s port.
The UAE’s Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK), an investment fund for the emirate of the same name, operates a major Gulf region free trade zone. Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said the government chose RAK to develop a Poti free economic zone in a 49-year management concession, and to construct and manage a new Poti port terminal.
“This partner has a very good experience of operating such zones, as well as managing ports in the UAE,” Gurgenidze said on March 27.
Twelve companies, including UK’s Hutchison Westports and French shipping company CMA CGM, competed in the tender to develop the free economic zone, which opened October.
RAK’s own free trade zone consists of three business parks: for trading and services, for heavy industries and warehousing of raw materials and for manufacturing. Established in 2000, the zone had more than 3 000 registered companies with trade turnover of around USD 8 billion within two years, according to its website.
The government expects to employ 16 000 to 22 000 people at the Poti free economic zone, and predicts an inflow of USD 1 billion into the region.
The UAE investors were also picked to construct the new Poti port terminal, and are expected to put USD 200 million into the development in the next three to four years.
Gurgenidze said the project will improve and enlarge the existing port, rather than replace it entirely.
“The old port will continue working at full capacity… Simply the capacity of Poti port would increase,” the prime minister said.
President Mikheil Saakashvili and the prime minister have both paid visits to the UAE to drum up investment money for Georgia, and UAE sheikhs traveled to Georgia last year to eye potential business ventures.
RAK’s real estate development company Rakeen Development is building a large residential and business complex in the capital, and recently bought the Sheraton Metekhi Palace hotel in Tbilisi for USD 67.5 million.
Another UAE company, Abu Dhabi Group, took over Standard Bank this month and is getting ready to construct a Kempinski Hotel in Tbilisi.