Saudi Arabia has 21 large, modern ports that facilitate industrial development.
Saudi ports move some two million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually. Around 12,000 ships visit Saudi ports each year, totaling one ship every 30 minutes. There are close to 200 berths at Saudi ports.
The Kingdom’s ports are operated by the Saudi Ports Authority, which supplies equipment and building piers. Maintenance is provided mostly by private companies.
More than half of Saudi Arabia’s sea traffic passes through the Islamic Port of Jeddah, one of the main ports in the Middle East and an entry point for pilgrims. New port facilities at Yanbu Industrial City on the Red Sea have eased Jeddah’s load and improved the efficiency of petrochemical exports. Other major ports are located in Dammam, Jizan and Jubail.
In addition, the massive King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, which is currently under construction, will also have its own dedicated port. Ground was broken for the massive commercial and residential megaproject in December 2005.
Ports for fishing boats and small freighters have also been constructed or upgraded, and in the late 1990s a private tourism company established hydrofoil service to link Jeddah with several industrial and urban centers along the Red Sea.