Zayed Port and the Free Ports

Abu Dhabi's home port


Zayed Port is Abu Dhabi’s oldest commercial port and has been the main city port for the last 40 years. Located in the north eastern part of the emirate, it covers an area of 5.1 square kilometers and consists of three basins:

  1. Zayed Port basin for deep-water vessels (cruise liners and general cargo vessels)
  2. Free Port basin for smaller vessels, tugs, barges and service crafts
  3. New Free Port basin for lay-by and vessels that require minor repairs

After moving all container traffic to the deep water Khalifa Port, Zayed Port handles the growing RoRo, general and bulk cargo volumes as well as the emerging cruise business, with future plans to develop the port as a world class cruise destination.

The first phase of the cruise terminal’s development has now been successfully completed, offering accommodation for two large cruise ships and one small vessel as well as a wide range of tourist friendly facilities.  The upcoming development phases of the cruise terminal focus on a state-of-the-art terminal building and a traditionally themed souk and heritage area, with activities for both passengers and the general public.

Zayed Port’s convenient central location makes it attractive to a growing number of cruise tour operators, as it offers easy access to Abu Dhabi’s expanding leisure experience and growing range of luxury hotels and resorts.

Pilotage Directions

Pilotage is compulsory for all ships within the port limits of Zayed Port; this includes the navigable channels leading to the port and all the waters, basins and channels alongside the quays and jetties in the port.

Abu Dhabi Ports has given a general exemption from pilotage for all vessels less than 100 metres long except ships carrying hazardous cargoes in bulk, which includes bunker barges that are only exempt if they are less than 60 metres long. Vessels of length 24 meters and over carrying more than 12 passengers and all vessels not noted above are subject to compulsory pilotage.

This means that they must have a licensed pilot aboard to assist with the navigation of the ship whenever it is within the port limits of Zayed Port; or the Master of the ship must have an exemption certificate, issued by Abu Dhabi Ports, which exempts the vessel from taking a licensed pilot.

Masters of ships subject to compulsory pilotage can apply for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate (PEC) if they can fulfill the requirements set out in the Pilotage Directions, including the tripping with pilots’ assessments and having successfully passed the Harbour Master’s examination.

Notice to Mariners
Notices to Mariners provide notification of changes that could affect port operations including, in particular, the safe and efficient movement of shipping in or out of a non-petroleum port.
Full Notice list

Mariner's Documentation
To be completed and sent to the first Abu Dhabi port of arrival via email or fax to the port VTS or via the ship's agent at least 48 hours in advance of the ETA.
Full Documentation list

Please click here for information relating to Zayed Port and the Free Ports Tariffs