Maqta Gateway supporting trade with Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Port’s comprehensive management system has created a complete ecosystem for stakeholders

Tags: Abu Dhabi Ports CompanyLogisticsSmart citiesUnited Arab Emirates
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Maqta Gateway supporting trade with Abu Dhabi Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, General Manager, Maqta Gateway.
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 28, 2018

Maqta Gateway Port Community System (PCS) is an ambitious project that aims to provide a single window for information flow between all parts of the Abu Dhabi port community of stakeholders and customers. The system follows international standards for electronic data interchange and has been fully developed by Maqta Gateway Company, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports.

It is named after Maqta Bridge, the first crossing to connect Abu Dhabi Island with the mainland, a crucial stage in the emirate’s early economic development. Maqta Gateway is designed to be a bridge that boosts trade within the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

“It’s an initiative of Abu Dhabi Port and the groundwork for it began in 2011. In order to serve the trade network you need to go beyond your gates. It’s actually being able to operate with all stakeholders who together form what we call a port community,” explains Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, Maqta Gateway General Manager.

The key stakeholders include Customs, Immigration, Food Control and other entities that are related to inspection, transport or shipping. Creation of the Maqta Gateway required forging links with all these entities and integrating it with their operating systems in order to provide a single window for all the port’s customers.

“You can see it as a mini e-government that goes beyond one small service,” explains Dr Al Dhaheri. “It provides a full end-to-end service for import and export and it does not only stop at Abu Dhabi Sea port, but it collaborates with air cargo and land transport on the land side. It does not stop at container terminals as the traditional PCS would do. It also extends to the cruise terminal as well, to serve the cargo and passengers coming by sea.”

Playing a part in Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, Maqta Gateway has already crossed some key development stages. It was formally launched in December 2014, an occasion marked by the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with General Administration of Customs, Ministry of Climate Change & Environment, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, Abu Dhabi Airports, Etihad Rail and Abu Dhabi Terminals.

System development was initiated in January 2015, initial operations started in November 2015 and the system was officially inaugurated in October 2017. The system is integrated with four government and private entities: General Administration of Customs, Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Terminals and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; in addition to 11 shipping agencies and 20 international shipping lines.

The system covers all commercial ports in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi including Khalifa Port, Mussafah Port, Mina Zayed Port, Free Port and New Free Port. This covers nine terminals in Abu Dhabi and 54 private jetties.

The port community system offers more than 100 services realted to shipping in addition to other reporting and information services. Additionally, smart services are offered by Al Manara Mobile Application, which enables tracking of vessel movements, sending alerts and notifications and tracking transactions with more than five integrated entities.

Since October 2016, Dr Al Dhaheri explains, Maqta Gateway must be used for all sea-side logistics. Focus then moved from the sea-side to the operational side of the port and work on digitising all those services was completed by April 2017.

“As per our roadmap, the goals in 2018 will be to continue the land side and 2019 will be to integrate with the air cargo and 2020 to have more integration with international partners,” Dr Al Dhaheri explains. “We’ve seen a lot of interest from our partners on the air cargo side and therefore we might bring this forward to 2018.”

At GITEX Technology Week 2017, Maqta Gateway highlighted 44 new services that have been added to meet the requirements of companies which have factories and warehouses in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) and other free trade zones under Abu Dhabi Ports. The new services create complete visibility of shipments from dockside to the factory, giving stakeholders complete insight into their supply chain.

“There’s great added value in having those services added to the port community system, especially the people who have warehouses and factories in Kizad,” says Dr Al Dhaheri. “They will have a full view, from the sea-side to the land, to their warehouses of what is going on. It’s not just a normal level of automation, like asking for something online at a free zone. It is having this full functionality, all shipment related and customer related, all the way to the factory.”

Maqta Gateway has no intention, of course, of slowing down. It is now evaluating how it can utilise all the information it is generating to benefit stakeholders. Decision makers, whether they are customers or investors, could be offered business intelligence services and dashboards that help them to track their inventory and their shipments. “The intelligence side of the system now is becoming a key direction for us,” says Dr Al Dhaheri.

Mobile is also a key area of focus. Not all the services offered by Maqta Gateway will work on smartphones, but it intends to bring as many of them as is practical to mobile devices. Continuing to work on support for the air cargo community will facilitate true multi-modal transportation in Abu Dhabi.

Crucial to the success of Maqta Gateway is collaboration with the ports and logistics community. Maqta Gateway signs MoUs with relevant entities and takes their feedback on improving the service. Ideas are aired and reviewed in a spirit of collaboration before any decisions are taken to automate services. Work is benchmarked to international standards.

“We sit at the table, we discuss what is the best approach and what we are going to digitise,” explains Dr Al Dhaheri. “A huge part of Maqta Gateway is not just the technical part of it, it’s the process of development. This is why we have a dedicated team for process improvement. We look at the process and how it’s going to become better before we automate anything.”

Collaboration with customers and stakeholders began the moment the project was formally announced in 2014. The project’s guiding approach has always been to build a system for the port community by the port community. If stakeholders participate in building the system, they benefit from it and vice versa.

The vision has become a reality, with members making suggestions and around 75% of them making it into product development. This testifies that customers and stakeholders are taking part in building the platform and Maqta Gateway gives them recognition for their efforts.

Within Maqta Gateway LLC, the company has established a Digital Innovation Lab. The purpose of building this lab is to investigate, through research & development, new trends such as AI and Blockchain to ascertain how they might affect Maqta’s work and how they might be utilised to advance the company’s services. As a port community is made up of a chain of entities, Blockchain figures highly in its research & development work. It is also evaluating artificial intelligence as it has a lot of information that could be useful for decision makers and customers. Maqta Gateway is looking closely at the potential of predictive analysis and how it could be used forecast and predict situations.

Maqta Gateway is collaborating with ports around the world, to look at how they can link port community systems (PCS) in other countries.

Throughout, Dr Al Dhaheri stresses that collaboration is key to success. “I think I would thank the team, the customers and all the entities involved because this is an integrated project,” she says. “Unless everyone plays their part, we will not be able to make this happen. Our international partners are also very important to us and we’re looking for more partnerships and more integration.”

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