Aden - an ancient trading centre
he Republic of Yemen, at the south-west corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has traded by land and sea since ancient times. Mid-way between Europe and the Far East, Aden lies on a major world trading route through the Suez Canal. It is one of the largest natural harbours in the world with an area of about 70 km2 of sheltered water surrounded by Jebel Shamsan, Khormaksar, and the shore which extends to the hills of Little Aden. The Port of Aden consists of the Inner Harbour, the Oil Harbour serving Aden Refinery and the anchorage and approach channels of he Outer harbour.

The City of Aden draws its vitality from the Port of Aden. The story of Aden as a trading centre stretches back over 3000 years. Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta visited it in the 11th and 12th Centuries. In the 1800's, Aden grew as ship fuelling port, holding stocks of coal and water supplies for the early steamers. Port services expanded after the Suez Canal opened in 1869 as Aden grew to become one of the busiest ship bunkering and tax-free-shopping and trading ports in the world by the 1950's. Barges took cargo between ships berthed in the Inner Harbour and the wharves. Coastal vessels and dhows carried cargoes to and from regional ports.

In the 1970's, with the Suez Canal closed until 1975, Aden declined under intense competition from new ports in the region and changes in the patterns of trade. New quays were urgently needed at Aden to serve modern cargo demands. These were built at the end of the 1980's at the "Ma'alla Terminal". After over 150 years of commercial activity, Aden finally had the capacity and equipment to handle all types of dry cargo at deep alongside berths served by modern container cranes.


Unity in 1990 formed a nation of some 15 million people with the benefits of growing oil production and large gas reserves. Significant and positive changes in the country are leading to rapid privatization, higher investment and growing manufacturing output to meet national and overseas demand. The advantages of Aden for container transhipment have been recognized and throughput at the Ma'alla Terminal has grown from less than 10,000 TEU's in 1994 to over 100,000 in 1998/99.

Aden is recognized as a national resource with great potential, described as "Yemen's Gateway to the World". To handle the world's largest container vessels, the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) at the North Shore of Aden's Inner Harbour was designed and built. This facility was commissioned in March 1999 and provides the port with world-class container handling facilities. ACT's throughput is expected to increase from 500,000 TEU's/year by 2001 to an anticipated 3 million plus early in the next millennium.

The ACT is one of many signs that Aden is moving forward. Aden, as a port and as a city, in one of the most interesting countries in the Middle East, anticipates a dynamic and successful future.

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