Doraleh Container Terminal

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The container terminal at the Port of Djibouti

The Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) is a major port facility in the Port of Doraleh, Djibouti,[1] strategically located along the Red Sea and near the Gulf of Aden.[2] In February 2018, following a dispute between the government of Djibouti and the Dubai-based shipping firm DP World, the government nationalized the terminal.[3]

Construction and capacity[edit]

The DCT was built by the Dubai shipping company DP World after securing a 2006 30-year contract by Djibouti, and opened in 2009.[1][4][5][6] The contract was one of a number won by DP World in the region, including one in Berbera, Somaliland.[5]

The DCT's quay is 1050 meters with 18 meters depth, and can hold 1.25 million TEU. The facility also operates eight Super-post-Panamax container cranes.[1] An ENOC petroeum terminal is located adjacent to the DCT.[6] The terminal is the largest employer in Djibouti and its largest source of revenue.[7]

As of 2015, the DCT was described as the most technologically advanced container terminal on the African continent.[8]

Shipping activity[edit]

The port is called by major shipping services in the region, including:[7]

  • OCEAN Alliance Red Sea Express 2
  • Maersk Line Horn of Africa
  • Maersk Line MECL
  • MSC Australia Express
  • CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd EPIC1/IPAK
  • CMA CGM Mona Express
  • CMA CGM and Emirates Swahili Express
  • CMA CGM and COSCO India Middle East Mediterranean Express
  • PIL Red Sea Gulf Service
  • COSCO and Yang Ming Red Sea Express

Djibouti-DP World conflict[edit]

In 2014 the Djibouti government accused DP World of bribing the port authority Abdourahman Boreh, and stated the operating contract was unfair.[4] A London commercial court cleared Boreh of misconduct in 2016.[4] In 2017, a tribunal at the London Court of International Arbitration threw out a claim by the Djibouti government that DP World's agreement was unfair, and ordered the government to pay DP World damages.[1] The London court was led by English jurists Lord Leonard Hoffman and Sir Richard Aikens.[9]

Al-Jazeera has reported that according to its sources, relations between the UAE-based company and Djibouti were strained after Djibouti denied the UAE permission to build a military base on its territory.[2] Relations worsened after the UAE offered to build another base in Somaliland, weakening the competitiveness of the Djibouti port.[2]


In November 2017, Djibouti passed legislation allowing it to renegotiate contracts related to strategic infrastructure.[5] In February 2018, on the order of president Ismaïl Omar Guelleh,[7] the Djibouti government seized the facility and placed it under the control of the government-owned Doraleh Container Terminal Management Company. The government stated that the DP World contract violated Djibouti's sovereignty.[2] In response, DP world began a new arbitration case in London against the termination of their 30 year contract to manage the port to secure "compensation for their breach or expropriation."[1] The Djibouti government stated it would engage in "normal compensation procedures" to pay for the nationalization.[10]

The nationalization has occurred as the United Arab Emirates has expanded its influence, included through military bases, around the Red Sea and East Africa.[4] At the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and located next to the Bab el-Mandeb strait, Djibouti occupies a strategic position, and hosts U.S., Chinese, French and Italian military bases.[7][4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "DP WORLD ANGER AS DJIBOUTI SEIZES DORALEH TERMINAL". Port Strategy. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Djibouti seizes control of Dubai-run Doraleh port". Al Jazeera. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Djibouti seizes control of DP World's container terminal". Washington Post. Associated Press. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gambrell, Jon (23 February 2018). "Djibouti seizes control of DP World's container terminal". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Dubai accuses Djibouti of illegally seizing key Africa port". Dhaka Tribune. Agence France-Presse. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b Styan, David (2016). "Djibouti: small state strategy at a crossroads". Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal. 1 (1): 79–91.
  7. ^ a b c d Dupin, Chris (23 February 2018). "Djibouti government seizes container terminal". American Shipper. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  8. ^ Ismael, Hawa; Vandyck, George (2015). "Forecasting Container Throughput at the Doraleh Port in Djibouti through Time Series Analysis". Applied Mechanics, Mechatronics And Intelligent Systems-Proceedings Of The 2015 International Conference. World Scientific: 341.
  9. ^ "Government of Djibouti illegally seizes control of Doraleh port from Dubai Ports World". Gulf Digital News. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  10. ^ Kerr, Simeon; Aglionby, John (23 February 2018). "DP World accuses Djibouti of illegally seizing container terminal". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 February 2018.