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Mon 7 Dec 2009 08:01 AM

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King hails opening of Bahrain's new $361m port

King Hamad says Khalifa bin Salman Port will be 'key pillar' of national economy.

Bahrain's new $361 million Khalifa bin Salman Port will attract more than 100,000 cruise tourists to Bahrain during the season, officials have said.

Bahrain, as a market and a port, is a strategic location for all shipping lines and such projects will further develop many industries, including the tourism sector, according to industry leaders.

The port was opened on Sunday by King Hamad who said the port was vital to the Gulf state's future prosperity.

"The KBSP terminal represents a key pillar of our national economy and confident development march," he said in comments published by Gulf Daily News.

The port is capable of handling 1.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) a year and will be expanded to handle nearly 2.5m TEU's per annum over the coming years, the paper added.

It is being run by the General Organisation of Seaport (GOP) and APM Terminals as well as partners AP Moller-Maersk.

"Bahrain offered carriers reduced feeder distances, lower fuel costs, and greater service integrity than other ports in the region and that is the reason very large cruise liners will be attracted," said AP Moller-Maersk executive vice-president Flemming Ipsen.

"This season alone we are expecting around 100,000 cruise tourists...In the years to come, this figure will only increase.

"The port will facilitate trade and serve the future ambitions of Bahrain, so we must mark this day as worth celebrating and remembering."

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