To boost New Delhi-Gulf ties, India and Saudi Arabia add shipping corridors

  • November 23, 2023
  • News

The India-Saudi-Iraq service route, operated by the Singapore-based Bengal Tiger Line, has recently added Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Port, also known as Dammam Port, to its itinerary. Additionally, the port will now be a part of the India Gulf Express Freight Service and will connect with India’s Nhava Sheva, Mundra, and Mangalore. This move is expected to boost trade in the region.

The Dammam port plays a vital role in the transportation of a large portion of oil. The Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) has recently declared that the port will be included in the India Gulf Express Freight Service route, which will not only benefit Bangladesh and Sri Lanka but also improve the transportation of goods in the region.
Earlier this year, the Bangladesh-India-Sri Lanka-Gulf corridor was established through the new Bangladesh-India Gulf Express (BIGEX) service. The inclusion of King Abdulaziz Port benefits India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The port will serve as a significant export and import hub in the region, connecting the Middle East and India as part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)’s shipping service. Additionally, the shipping line will pass through Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Islamic Port. The shipping line will make stops at Jebel Ali in South West Dubai, Mundra, and Nhava Sheva in India, as well as Djibouti in Africa during its journey. Additionally, it will visit several ports in Italy, Spain, and Malta. The first sailing is scheduled to take place on December 23.
India’s relations with the Gulf region have taken a new turn with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman’s state visit to India, which took place at the G20 summit in New Delhi.

India and Saudi Arabia are planning to conduct a track 1.5 dialogue with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries later this year. The talks are expected to take place in Kochi, Kerala, instead of major cities. It is worth noting that the GCC region is home to 9 million Indians. According to a foreign policy expert, connecting ports and jointly focusing on developing and leveraging the blue economy could benefit both the Gulf and India. Additionally, this aligns with India’s port-led development model.

India is keen on signing a free trade agreement with the GCC as soon as possible. In fact, India and the UAE have already signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which was negotiated in a record time of just 88 days.

The GCC block, which has its headquarters in Riyadh, comprises six countries, namely the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, with the goal of achieving Arab regional unity. The region is home to a large number of Indian expatriates, and this population is expected to increase in the coming years. The GCC countries are the key suppliers of crude oil to India