Container Shipping to and from the UAE
Home to one of the largest ports in the Gulf Union, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a key country for international trade. Here you'll find the information you need on how much it costs to ship to or from the UAE, what documentation is required, and key dates for your calendar to avoid congestion.Get started
Relevant shipping information
- Is the UAE more of an import or export country?
The UAE is home to both import and export and cross trade. Cross trade means when cargo moves from one country to another without passing through the country where the shipper’s business is registered.
- What are the common commodities traded to/from the UAE?
Different commodities are being traded to or from the UAE. The most common ones are:
Plastic raw material
Textiles and garments
- Is there any special information to be aware of when doing business with the UAE?
Perhaps the most important thing to note is that the UAE is a free trade zone. Free trade zones are areas where, under certain customs regulations, goods can be imported, stored, handled, manufactured, reconfigured and re-exported without being subject to customs duties and generally with little input from customs authorities.
Despite the UAE's position as a free trade zone, the country has fewer manufacturers than most – only aluminium, glass, vehicle lubricant, chemical, and petroleum are commonly manufactured.
Many business dealings for imports to Africa are done in the UAE, considering its proximity and transit time, transparent banking processes, and supportive government policies for exporters/traders.
- What are the main ports in the UAE?
The UAE's main port is Jebel Ali Port, one of the biggest in the Gulf Union. It offers imports and export and serves as a key distribution point for smaller countries in the Gulf and Upper Gulf.
Other ports include Mina Saqr in Ras Al Khaimah and Khaleed Port in Abu Dhabi – but neither of these is as big as Jebel Ali, which is one of the largest transit hubs in the world.
- What are the most popular trade lanes in the UAE?
The United Arab Emirates' main exports are to Africa, South America, the UK and European Union (EU).
Imports are common from the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia (Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia), and Japan.
- How does cargo get from port to door, or to the port, in the UAE?
We provide several transport options at Twill for imports and exports to and from the UAE.
For Sharjah Port and Mina Saqr port, cargo moves on barge/ feeders. This cargo is loaded to/from Jebel Ali, the main exit port for UAE.
Abu Dhabi's Khaleed Port is also an exit port in UAE, where cargo is loaded/dispatched directly.
Cargo door pick-up from the shipper warehouse or door deliveries to the consignee warehouse is only done via trucks in the UAE.
- What is the estimated transit time for shipping a container to or from the UAE?
The UAE is home to a range of customers with various origin and destination ports, so transit times vary – and also depend on the route taken. Below are some examples and approximate times to ship containers from or to the UAE:
Jebel Ali to Singapore: 9 days
Jebel Ali to Benghazi, Libya: 21 days
Jebel Ali to Casablanca, Morocco: 21 days
Jebel Ali to Mombasa, Kenya: 28 days
Jebel Ali to Felixstowe, the UK: 29 days
Jebel Ali to London Gateway, the UK: 27 days
Jebel Ali to Rotterdam, The Netherlands: 36 days
Jebel Ali to Antwerp, Belgium: 37 days
- Which peak seasons are important for container shipping in the UAE?
As Jebel Ali (the UAE's main port) is one of the largest transit hubs in the world, many key holidays impact bookings. These include:
Chinese New Year
Chinese Golden Week
Always plan and prepare your bookings well in advance of these dates.
Services to make shipping easier
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Inland transportation is a key partner to ocean freight and with Twill, you get access to a range of quality intermodal services inland transport services whether rail, barge or truck transport. Find the right continental and intercontinental transport mode for your cargo, and let us handle the rest.
With sea shipping services from over 300 ports, Twill enables small and medium-sized businesses to grow, by simplifying their ocean shipping and sea freight logistics. We are here to connect your business globally, whether shipping your cargo on the same continent or handling international freight shipping around the world.