DP World — a global port operator founded in 2005, by a merger between the Dubai Ports Authority and Dubai Ports International — has come to Limassol, a city on Cyprus’ southern coast, and in just a couple years has been doing some amazing things for the Cypriot economy, and the country’s international standing.
DP World Limassol was awarded a 25-year concession, for the operation of the Limassol Port in April 2016 — with the possibility of extending the concession by 12 years. The port, previously run by the government, is now managed as a public-private partnership, and is expected to generate around 2 billion euros, through DP World Limassol’s tenure, (until at least 2041).
“We want to be here way longer than that,” said DP World Limassol General Manager, Charles Meaby, in an interview with South EU Summit. “This is the beginning of our time as DP World in Cyprus.”
Meaby views the company as an innovator, collaborator, and overall supporter of the Cypriot economy.
“The port is a community,” Meaby explained, “and we sit right in the centre of that, and actually, it’s an obligation and responsibility for us to stand up within that community, and to explain to others the opportunities.” And given the leadership role the international port operator has been awarded, Meaby is clear on how this can be translated into wider opportunities, particularly within the scope of innovation, “to bring the new ideas, to actually speed up the success of the country, and that’s what we’re trying to do — really transforming the port so it stands out as a beacon in the region.”
DP World is already enjoying success in that regard: it inaugurated a new cruise passenger terminal at the Limassol Port in 2018, which has the capacity to receive the largest cruise ships in the world.
Meaby said that he’s “personally very excited about the cruising aspect.” Why? Cyprus — and Limassol in particular — used to be a leading cruise tourism destination in the Mediterranean. Over the years, other cities gained ground in cruise tourism popularity, places like Marseille and Barcelona. That, combined with the instability derived from the ‘Cyprus problem’ (stemming from the Turkish military invasion, and occupation of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974), led to a drop in Cypriot and Limassol cruise tourism.
However, things are looking up, said Meaby. “As we can see the stability coming, the essence of what’s here is absolutely powerful for cruising. You’ve got wonderful history; you’ve got more than 300 days of sunshine, so it’s a full 360-day cruising opportunity. You’ve got the holy trails. You’ve got the amazing histories of Egypt, basically three continents here, we’re right on three continents, so, for cruising, the opportunity is enormous. People will want to go on holiday in this region.” And the Limassol Port cruise passenger terminal will be there, ushering in new and old tourists alike.
This means a major boon for the Cypriot economy — not just from tourists spending money in the country, but also from the influx of jobs that are being, and will continue to be created, by DP World Limassol operations supporting cruise tourism — and a plethora of other industries. 95 percent of the Limassol Port team is composed of local Cypriots. And the DP World Limassol team has grown, from just a few employees, to nearly 100, in just a little more than two years. Beyond that, the team works in collaborative partnerships with many other sectors of the economy: other labour suppliers and operators within the port, and, increasingly so, various players in the oil and gas industry.
“We have an area where we have designated support for logistics of off-shore oil and gas exploration, construction and exploitation,” Meaby explained. “Cyprus is sitting on a tremendous opportunity, to consolidate on its own aspects of the oil and gas off-shore, but also to support and supply services to the broader region in that respect.”
Cyprus’ potential to become a major energy hub in the Mediterranean, was first realized in 2011, when the Aphrodite gas field was discovered. Seven years later, Italian oil and gas company, Eni, announced its finding of the promising Calypso gas field in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, in the Mediterranean. Now, a plethora of major oil and gas companies — including France’s Total, and USA’s ExxonMobil — are exploring in Cypriot waters, and a national oil and gas company— the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company — has been established to manage the exploration, and likely future exportation of the discovered reserves.
DP World Limassol’s role in this emergent industry, will be to “provide world class infrastructure, we can give the access to the terminal, we can provide services in terms of logistic support,” explained Meaby, adding, “we need to be working with the international oil companies, the IOCs, and their suppliers as well (…) be that Halliburton, Schlumberger, Medserve, and others (…).They support principals, the IOCs, to meet their requirements, and we work in collaboration with them to do those achievements, and I think that’s where the real power will come. It’s the sum of the parts coming together within the framework of the DP World terminal.”
It’s that ‘port community’ idea that Meaby sees as being a main ingredient of DP World Limassol’s success, now, and in the future. This extends beyond the cruise terminal, beyond the collaborations with the oil and gas industry, and to something even bigger: turning Cyprus into a leading regional trade centre. That is, after all, the main pillar of DP World’s business, and Meaby sees Limassol as the perfect place to strengthen that core.
“Cyprus really throws up all sorts of exciting opportunities to lead world trade,” said Meaby with enthusiasm. “The location here in the Eastern Mediterranean, the frontier of Europe, very close to the Suez Canal, and these amazing countries that surround us, where the trading opportunities are, is the reason we’re here.”
And DP World Limassol is here to stay — according to Meaby. It’s there for the long-haul, and looks forward to being a major boost to the Cypriot economy.