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Gwadar port aims to become new Dubai

Over a decade now, Pakistan officials have dreamed of changing the strategically located fishing port of Gwadar into a duty-free port and free economic zone – Pakistan’s answer to Dubai.

Over a decade now, Pakistan officials have dreamed of changing the strategically located fishing port of Gwadar into a duty-free port and free economic zone – Pakistan’s answer to Dubai.

The aim is for Gwadar – located on the Arabian Sea near Iran and the mouth of the Persian Gulf – to become a regional commercial, industrial and shipping hub, as part of the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The corridor is designed to give China a shorter, highly secure trading route, via Pakistan, to the Middle East and beyond, while also boosting Pakistan’s economy.

The dusty ‘next Dubai’ on Pakistan’s coast resembles the original mainly in one respect – it doesn’t have much water.

Gwadar peninsula – a hammerhead-shaped projection of land into the Arabian Sea – is home to about 100,000 people, following completion of the first phase of the port development. But as development continues, the area’s population is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2020, according to the port authority’s website.

On one side of the peninsula is the deep-sea port, built by the Chinese state-owned China Overseas Holding Company.

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