(Bloomberg) — Abu Dhabi Ports Co. will start operating a new shipping company this month that could help the United Arab Emirates avoid disruptions to imports of food and medical supplies amid the pandemic.
State-owned ADPC set up Safeen Feeders to call on nine ports in India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, it said in a statement. In time, ADPC plans to extend the cargo service to the Red Sea and East Africa. Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s capital and largest emirate.
The UAE imports as much as 90% of its food and depends on overseas supplies of medical, consumer and industrial products to sustain its predominantly foreign population. Food security is a major concern, and the government has taken several measures to ensure uninterrupted access to supplies. A food security council coordinates official efforts, including the stockpiling of essential goods.
Safeen Feeders will provide greater options for the UAE to readily source food and medical supplies, Ross Thompson, ADPC’s chief commercial and strategy officer, said a written response to questions. “Our core objective remains focused on facilitating trade and connectivity.”
India and Pakistan are among the UAE’s biggest trading partners. Safeen Feeders is to begin operating by the end of June, in partnership with Singapore-based Bengal Tiger Line Pte.
The UAE’s senior official for food security last month highlighted some of the risks that the coronavirus has created for the desert nation’s supply links.
“We could see food was available around the world, but we could also see there were disruptions in sea freight and air freight as well,” Mariam Almheiri, the minister of state for food security, said in a televised presentation. Working with UAE air-freight carriers and seaports, “we basically devised alternative routes.”
Abu Dhabi Ports owns and runs 11 ports in the UAE and the West African country of Guinea.