AD Ports Group, the operator of ports, industrial cities and free zones in the emirate, and UAE-based Ghassan Aboud Group are developing a new Global Auto Hub – Abu Dhabi in KEZAD to boost trade related to the automotive industry.

The project is expected to be ready in two years’ time and will enable international trade of new and used passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, spare parts, heavy equipment and machinery to different destinations in Europe, the Far East, Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Commonwealth of Independent States.

The new 3.3-square-kilometre project is expected to help Abu Dhabi diversify its economy away from oil and is in line with the UAE’s Operation300bn strategy to develop the industrial sector,officials said on Thursday.

“We believe the Global Auto Hub – Abu Dhabi will be a key driver in strengthening the UAE’s position at the centre of the region’s evolving global automotive and mobility supply chain,” said Capt Mohamed Al Shamisi, managing director and group chief executive of AD Ports Group.

The UAE’s exports are projected to expand at an average annual rate of more than 6 per cent to Dh1.1 trillion ($299 billion) by 2030 as the country focuses on diversifying its economy, Standard Chartered said in a report earlier this year.

The Arab world’s second-largest economy also launched the Operation 300bn initiative last year to double the contribution of the industrial sector to the country’s overall economic output from Dh133bn to Dh300bn by 2031.

More than 430,000 vehicles per year are expected to move through the auto hub once it begins operations in 2024 and this number “is expected to grow exponentially”, Wil Park, head of business development at Ghassan Aboud Group, told reporters during a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

KEZAD’s auto hub will involve trading in “new and used passenger cars, new and used commercial vehicles, motorcycles and heavy equipment. It will be a unique hub and will have everything in it to facilitate trade in the automotive industry”, Mr Park said.

Buyers, sellers, logistics services providers and financial service providers, among others, will be part of the new hub. The companies did not disclose the total investment in the project.

“The Global Auto Hub – Abu Dhabi is a [large-scale] project and … will put Abu Dhabi on the map of automotive trading,” said Fatima Al Hammadi, vice president of commercial and business development at AD Ports.

AD Ports, which made its debut on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in February, is launching a number of new projects to boost trade at KEZAD.

Earlier this year, it revealed plans to develop one of the region’s largest food trading and logistics centres at the free zone to boost food security in the region. It was launched in partnership Ghassan Aboud Group and France’s Rungis International Market.

It is also teaming up with Abu Dhabi’s Metal Park Investment to establish an integrated metal hub at KEZAD.

The new project “will provide a competitive edge by offering advanced infrastructure, ease of doing business, conducive policies and space availability”, said Ghassan Aboud, founder and chairman of Ghassan Aboud Group.

The 28-year old company — which is present in the UAE, Australia, Belgium, Jordan and Turkey — has interests in a number of sectors including automotive, retail, hospitality, logistics and health care.

Established in 2006, AD Ports Group owns and operates 10 ports in the UAE including Khalifa, Zayed, Mussaffah, Fujairah Terminals, Community Ports, Kamsar and the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, as well as a terminal in Guinea.

It also manages more than 550 square kilometres of industrial zones and an end-to-end logistics business, besides offering a range of maritime services.