History of Port Rashid
By the early 1900s Deira had become an important port, known primarily for pearl exports.
As more and more foreign merchants settled here the town grew into a centre for international trade.
Oceangoing ships were obliged to anchor off Dubai to unload their cargoes which were ferried ashore in barges.
Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who became ruler of Dubai in 1958, was ambitious to turn Dubai into a major trade centre, and as trade grew it became clear that to realise his ambition a deep water port was needed.
In 1965 Sheikh Rashid invited Sir William Halcrow & Partners to design a port.
They proposed a four berth port built on reclaimed land at Shindaga, which had been the traditional home of Dubai's ruling Al Maktoum family.
The proposal included a passenger terminal, restaurant, workshops and offices.
Dredging was to provide deep water and the dredged material was to be used to construct berths, storage areas and ancillary facilities.
Less than two years after construction began, with expansion in trade boosted by offshore oil discoveries, the port’s design was revised from four to 15 berths.
To meet the extra cost of the additional berths Sheikh Rashid had everything he considered unnecessary removed from the design, including the passenger terminal, restaurant, offices and workshops.
By the time the fifteenth berth was completed, by double berthing ships, 23 vessels were being unloaded.
A private contractor was appointed to manage the port, the contract going to Gray Mackenzie and Co. Gray Mackenzie’s managing director, George Chapman, was one of Sheikh Rashid's trusted advisors. His company represented international shipping agencies and had been operating Dubai's tug and barge cargo operation since the early 1950s.
Gray Mackenzie established a new company, Dubai Port Services, to manage and operate Mina Rashid, as the port was known, and recruited a port manager a harbourmaster and a port engineer.
The British India Shipping Line's passenger liner MV Sirdhana was the first ship to berth at the new port in November 1970.
British India Shipping Line passenger ships went on to become regular callers at Mina Rashid, bringing contract labour from India for the many construction projects now being started in Dubai.
Mina Rashid was formally opened on 5th October 1972 when Sheikh Rashid unveiled a commemorative plaque set in a large rock symbolising his personal role in identifying a suitable rock source at Badiyat for the port’s construction. Using local rock instead of imported rock saved millions of Dirhams in construction costs.
Operations at Mina Rashid played a significant part in Dubai’s development. Dubai was able to attract trade away from other Gulf areas and to develop new international business. Construction projects surged ahead throughout the emirate, thanks to the ease with which materials could now be imported.
In 1976, Sheikh Rashid gave instructions for an even more ambitious project, the construction of the world’s largest man-made harbour at Jebel Ali. In 1978 Mina Rashid was expanded to include 35 berths, five for large container ships.
The new port at Jebel Ali was completed in 1979 and in 1991 it merged with Mina Rashid to become the Dubai Ports Authority.
In 2008 it was announced that all cargo operations would be moved to Port Jebel Ali and that Mina Rashid would become a cruise terminal and mixed-use urban waterfront area to house 200,000 people.