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 at the Arabian Sea close to Iran
and the mouth of the Persian Gulf – to become a regional commercial, industrial and shipping hub,
as a part of the ambitious China
Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) project.
The corridor is
designed to provide China a shorter, highly secure trading route, through 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
a single 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. however, as development continues, the area’s population is expected to grow to 500,000 by
means of 2020, according
to the port authority’s website.
On one aspect of the peninsula is the deep-sea port, built by
means of the Chinese state-owned China overseas holding