Last year, a record 6,496 people attending the two-day Breakbulk Middle East event at the Dubai World Trade Centre, an increase of 94% compared with visitor numbers in 2022.

“We are thrilled with the turnout and the engagement we saw from attendees,” said Ben Blamire, event director at Breakbulk Middle East. “The fact that we exceeded our own expectations in terms of footfall validates that there is a real appetite for knowledge-sharing and networking in the region’s breakbulk and project cargo sector, and BBME [Breakbulk Middle East] is playing a massive role in catering to it.”

The event also welcomed a record number of exhibitors from across the supply chain, including shippers, carriers, equipment manufacturers, forwarders, tech companies, port and terminal operators and heavy-lift specialists.

Among them were heavy lift carrier AAL Shipping. It will also be at this year’s exhibition, which takes place in Dubai’s World Trade Centre 12-13 February 2024.

Speaking of last year’s event, John Pittalis, marketing and communications director at AAL, said: “Networking is the backbone of the shipping sector.

“As companies grow, we become more disparate and we move into different regions, so it’s important that we can engage as close as possible with our audiences. Breakbulk offers AAL the opportunity to do that.”

As an example of the type of work the company carries out, last summer it executed a complex operation to transport over 12,800 freight tonnes (FRT) of heavy lift project cargo from the South Korean ports of Kunsan and Pyeongtaek to Beaumont in Texas, US, and an LNG facility’s processing plant.

Henrik Hansen, GM of AAL Americas, said: “We have a longstanding collaboration with the shippers, having successfully executed several long-haul fixtures for them in the past between Asia and the US Gulf. On this shipment, the largest unit of 607t was the heaviest piece ever lifted and carried by AAL on our trade lane between Asia and North America.

“From a technical perspective there were multiple challenges and loading such cargo from and discharging to barge is always a precarious process during which exacting ballast water techniques are deployed to ensure the vessel remains perfectly upright whilst lifting and transferring the largest components. Total time required to discharge in Beaumont was 113 hours, with three and half hours needed just for the largest unit. The operation proved a great success.”

Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT) is Iraq’s premier multi-purpose cargo handling facility and it will be attending Breakbulk Middle East. Last year, in a display of its capability, it successfully handled specialised out of gauge (OOG) and breakbulk cargo from the vessel CMA CGM Gulf Express. BGT’s operations team discharged specialised coolers that weighed 13t and measured up to 6m high.

Also exhibiting at the show is port operator AD Ports Group, which reported revenue growth of 189% year-on-year to AED 4.24bn for the third quarter of 2023. Q3 2023 EBITDA rose by 28% year-on-year to AED 759m. The Maritime & Shipping Cluster remained the group’s biggest revenue contributor and has become the largest EBITDA contributor too, accounting for 56% and 33% in Q3, respectively. Total net profit surged by 20% year-on-year to AED 403m for the quarter.

Finally, multinational manufacturer Liebherr will have a stand in Dubai. In one recent deal, the company will supply Wison (Nantong) Heavy Industry, a provider of power engineering services, five new Liebherr Ram Luffing Cranes to be used on a liquefied natural gas carrier to develop subsea gas fields. The ordered cranes have a lifting capacity up to 50t and an outreach of maximum 40m and are primarily used, for example, for maintenance and supply work.

This investment is part of a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) plant that has been under construction since early 2023. The 380m-long and 60m-wide vessel will be anchored at a depth of 40m off the coast of the Republic of Congo.

The delivery of the cranes is planned for the period 2024-2025.