Saudi Arabia ‘to build oil port’ in Yemen’s al-Mahra: sources

Letter addressed to a Saudi official suggests the kingdom plans to establish an oil port in Yemen’s al-Mahra province.

Saudi troops stand at an airfield, where Saudi cargo planes delivered aid, in the northern province of Marib
The Saudi-UAE coalition, which revives US logistical support, says it is concerned by the rise of Houthi rebels [Ali Owidha/Reuters]

Saudi Arabia is seemingly planning to build an oil port in Yemen’s al-Mahra governorate in the country’s southeast, where Saudi and United Arab Emirates‘ troops are present, sources told Al Jazeera.

A document obtained by Al Jazeera on Monday points to Saudi Arabia’s intention to develop the port, which would extract and export petroleum, the sources said.

In a letter addressed to the kingdom’s ambassador to Yemen, a Saudi-based marine construction company, Huta Marine, thanked the official for trusting the company’s capabilities by asking it to present a technical and financial proposal for the design and implementation of the port.

The company added it would arrange to visit the site and carry out necessary fieldwork needed to develop a proposal and construction plan.

Al Jazeera has reached out via email to Huta Marine for comment, but has yet to recieve a response.

The company’s phone lines were temporarily put out of service on Monday. 

Huta Marine [Al Jazeera]
Huta Marine [Al Jazeera]

Reports that previously emerged in Yemen’s media revealed Saudi Arabia’s alleged intentions to kick-start development projects in al-Mahra, which borders Oman, including the construction of a pipeline that would extend to Saudi to transport its oil.

There have been restrictions and tariffs imposed on imported goods, which come through the al-Mahra border crossing between Yemen and Oman.

Seventy percent of imports to Yemen enter from Oman through this key border crossing, which, along with the province’s seaport and airport, is under the Saudi-UAE coalition’s control.

Yemen war: Disease rife amid water and sewage crisis

Residents of al-Mahra were protesting in April, calling on the coalition to scale back its military presence.

Troops arrived to the area in December 2017, about two years after Saudi Arabia and the UAE – along with other Arab states that are no longer a part of the coalition – launched a military offensive on the impoverished country.

The coalition, which revives US logistical support, says it is concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels and has repeatedly accused regional rival Iran of arming the rebels, allegations the Houthis and Iran deny.

It says its military campaign is aimed at re-installing the government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting and more than 22 million are in dire need of assistance.

Source: Al Jazeera