The Port of Alexandria is on the West Verge of the Nile Delta between the Mediterranean Sea and Mariut Lake in Alexandria, Egypt. Considered the second most important city and the main port in Egypt, it handles over three quarters of Egypt’s foreign trade. Alexandria port consists of two harbours (East and West) separated by a T-shaped peninsula. The East harbour is shallow and is not navigable by large vessels. The West harbour is used for commercial shipping. The harbour is formed by two converging breakwaters.
Alexandria Port is one of the oldest ports in the world. The earliest port facilities were built in 1900 BC in the then-village of Rhakotis, to service coastal shipping and supply the island of Pharos (now Ras al-Teen).
Over the centuries sand and silt deposits made the port unnavigable. It was cleared by forces under the command of Alexander the Great in 331 BC as part of the construction of Alexandria city to be the marine base for his fleet. Alexander's engineer Dinocrat linked the port of Alexandria and the island of Pharos with a bridge 1200 meters long and 200 meters wide, creating two harbour basins for commercial and military shipping. The northeast basin (currently the Eastern harbour) was designed for military vessels and the southwest basin (currently the main port of Alexandria) was for commercial use. In the Ptolemy era a second bridge was built to Pharos, further dividing the eastern harbour into two separate inlets.
Muhammad Ali of Egypt (the builder of modern Egypt 1810-1849), in the beginning of his rule, ordered to restore and partly retrace the freshwater canal from the Nile. On its completion in 1820 it was called "al-Mahmoudiyah Canal", as a referrnce to those days' Sultan of Conatantinople. Under Muhammad Ali's rule, Alexandria shipyard was founded.
Former President Hosni Mubarak also embarked on a major port expansion focused on eliminating shipping bottlenecks at the various harbour mouths. The Port of Dekheila was constructed as a natural extension of the port of Alexandria in 1986 to keep pace with the evolution of the movement of ships, means of shipping and unloading and containerization.
The western port is divided into several zones:
- Used for general cargo handling.
- Deals with four types of activities: unified cargoes including a Ro Ro and passenger terminal, stuffed bulk cargoes, and barge discharge.
- Used for handling general cargo and barge discharge.
- Used for handling containers, cement, coal, barge discharge, fertilizers, and general cargo.
- Used for handling: molasses, timber, some types of general cargoes, barge discharge, grains and flour.
- (Oil Dock): Situated at the western boundaries of the port, is used for handling edible oil, oil products and for providing bunkers. It also includes berths used for handling livestock. The port does not include oil storage facilities, but oil berths are connected to a refinery through a 2 km long pipeline.