In a region that imports up to 90% of its food, an enterprise that sources and ships agricultural commodities is no ordinary company – it is a vital lifeline for the entire population of the Arabian Gulf. Al Ghurair Resources has been providing that lifeline for more than 40 years.

In the process, it has helped turn the UAE into a world-class logistics hub and itself into the largest Grain Unloading & Handling operators in the Middle East and Africa. Indeed such are the loading and offloading capabilities of ‘AGR’, that few international conglomerates across the globe can match it.

This was best exemplified in March 2015 when Al Ghurair Resources recorded the highest-ever offloading figures in the history of its twin-berth Terminal at Jebel Ali Port – a staggering 301,752 metric tons. The milestone performance easily outstripped the previous record of 181,135 MT achieved four years earlier.

To truly appreciate the scale of unloading operations at the Jebel Ali Terminal, one would need to climb aboard a ‘Panamax’, a ‘Supramax’ or any of the other supersized cargo ships commissioned by the Resources Division. To achieve the March 2015 record, a total of nine unloading vessels were handled during the month.

The commodities carried by the 7 Panamax and 2 Supramax included 166,087 MT of Canola, 55,896 MT of Barley, 47,683 MT of Wheat, 12,100 MT of Corn, 11,005 MT of Yellow Peas and 8,979 MT of Soya Meal. Yet figures alone don’t tell the whole story of AGR’s Unloading and Handling operations; its strategic importance to parent group Al Ghurair Investment – and to the food requirements of the UAE and wider Gulf.

That story involves Gulf Grains Elevators (GGE), the vessel offloading arm of AGR which started life as the ‘Gulf Import Export Company’ in1985. It was envisioned as a Transshipment hub to cater to the grain demands of the MENA Region. GGE handles the dispatch of inland as well as export shipments of grains such as wheat, canola seeds, barley and maize, plus final products like meal.

The plant is a huge operation by any standards – a fully automated, centrally-controlled system of conveyors and elevators that carefully siphon the grains from inbound import vessels, through inventory and on to the 24 main storage silos. The offloading berths can handle more than 150 vessels a year, from ‘small handles’ of 10,000 MT to the giant ‘Kamsaramax’with a dead weight of 85,000 MT.

A glut of other technical data would be necessary to explain the full complexity of the Al Ghurair Resources commodity handling and unloading operations. Suffice to say that it is a 24/7 seamless transition of materials from where they are to where they need to be – rather like a network of veins carrying blood to and from the human heart.

It is an apt description in more ways than one. Because Al Ghurair Resources is not really about machinery or technical capabilities at all. These are only the tools of our trade. Ultimately our business is sourcing the staple necessities of human existence – and ensuring security of supply for many generations to come.