...World No. I & 2 Container Lines – Maersk Line & MSC accepting booking to Qatar
LONDON: Qatar and Container Lines have launched new shipping services via Oman in an effort to sidestep a port ban in neighbouring countries and secure a food lifeline after other Gulf states severed ties with Doha recently.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some other Arab countries cut diplomatic, travel and trade ties with Qatar last week. The severing of air, sea and land transport links has closed crucial import routes for Qatar and its population of around 2.7 million people who are dependent on imports for most of their food needs.
China’s COSCO Shipping Lines Co Ltd, Taiwan’s Evergreen and Hong Kong Kong’s OOCL have suspended container services to and from Qatar.
Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani) announced on Sunday two new shipping services will each run three times a week between Qatar’s Hamad Port and the Omani Ports of Sohar in the North and Salalah in the South.
Larger container ships are unable to dock at ports in Qatar due in part to shallow waters, so shipping lines use feeder services, which transport containers from the larger regional port of Jebel Ali in the UAE.
Thousands of containers destined for Qatar are still stuck at Jebel Ali, according to Qatari importers.
A Qatari food company owner said shipments began arriving on Sunday from Oman, and that some 12 vessels were headed to Qatar from Sohar and Salalah.
“There are around 300 containers of fresh and frozen food coming. Some have arrived and the others are on their way,” Ahmed al-Khalaf said.
He said containers at Jebel Ali were still stuck, but that others, including from Europe, were being diverted to Oman’s Ports.
The World’s no. 1 Container Line, Maersk of Denmark, said on Monday it would accept new bookings for container shipments to Qatar from Oman.
Swiss-based MSC, the World’s no. 2 Line, said it would deploy a new dedicated shipping service to Qatar from Salalah.