The UAE’s Abu Dhabi Ports Group and Egypt’s Red Sea Ports Authority have signed a term sheet and a head of terms agreement for the development of cruise infrastructure.
The agreement will see AD Ports Group invest in cruise infrastructure in several coastal cities in Egypt in the coming years.
The agreement covers two activities, with the first focusing on maritime and trade, while the second revolved around cruise tourism plans.
This second part of the agreement covers the development, operation, and management of cruise ship berths and terminals at Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Safaga ports.
AD Ports also agreed to provide support services to help extend cruise tourism in Egypt, although additional details weren’t provided.
The statement released by AD Ports Group mentioned that the company will also develop plans for cruise ships lines linking Abu Dhabi, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and Aqaba in Jordan.
However, its unclear what was meant by this, as AD Ports Group is a port operator, and only cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises can plan and operate cruise routes linking specific cities.
The company may have meant that they will promote Jordan and Egypt as cruise destinations and embarkation ports, with their locations on the Red Sea providing potential for compelling itineraries, especially after Saudi Arabia opened up to cruise tourism.
The agreement marks AD Ports Group’s expanding interest in the regional cruise sector. It has already confirmed plans to develop a cruise terminal in Aqaba, Jordan’s port city that acts as a gateway to the ruins of Petra, and is currently investigating opportunities to develop and operate new cruise infrastructure in Bahrain.
The investment is intended to build on Bahrain’s potential to become the fifth high-performing cruise destination in the Arabian Gulf, joining the UAE, Oman, Qatar and, more recently, Saudi Arabia.
Egypt, meanwhile, has long been a popular cruise destination thanks to the iconic Pyramids of Giza, the ruins in Luxor, and the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh, but the 2011 so-called Arab Spring severely undermined the country’s tourism sector.
Most cruise lines suspended calls to Egypt and since 2014 there have been no major cruise lines using any of its ports as embarkation hubs for regional itineraries.
That has begun to change in recent months, with luxury and expedition lines such as Atlas Ocean Voyages, and Silversea, and even major cruise lines such as Costa, announcing Egypt itineraries.