Pakistan and China plan to transform the city of Gwadar into a major connectivity hub in Baluchistan region. Gwadar is still a small city, home to 100,000 inhabitants, but according to the city’s master plan, Gwadar will become Pakistan’s third largest city with 2 million inhabitants by 2050.
Everything needs to be constructed there. This small fishing village is to become the flagship city of Pakistan’s transformation, offering high quality living standards.
An attractive city
Gwadar will not only be an industrial centre, but also a financial hub and a service -oriented city. Gwadar’s master plan, approved in September 2019, mentions a CBD, a tourist zone with resorts and golfs and a higher education area. New technologies and sustainability are at the very heart of Gwadar’s development.
Priority is also given to social inclusion, and programmes have been launched to empower the local population.
Gwadar maintains strong relations with the Gulf region. Before joining Pakistan in 1958, Gwadar was under Omani rule. as a result, an Arab influence can still be found in the port. Authorities in Gwadar aims to emulate Dubai’s success and attractiveness.
A Special Economic Zone
Pakistan’s objective is to replicate Shenzhen’s success story here in Gwadar. China’s southern tech hub was not much more than a fishing village in the late 70’s. Shenzhen’s success is manly due to the creation of special economic zones (SEZs). That is why several special economic zones are planned in Gwadar.
Gwadar special economic zone will be managed by China Overseas Port Holding till 2059. The SEZ will host Chinese and non-Chinese companies, and offer special incentives to attract industries (including tax-holidays, no VAT)
Many more SEZs will be inaugurated along the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, but the one in Gwadar is to be the most important one.
Oil and power
Gwadar is also a new hub for energy. It is at the core of China’s Middle East oil strategy. In the future a pipeline will link Gwadar to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang. Gwadar will also become the main port for oil and gas exports from central Asia. Many oil projects are in development in the city. Gwadar will host an oil refinery planned by Aramco. In November 2019, a 300 MW coal power plant was inaugurated in Gwadar. This new plant will give enough power to the future industries that will set up in Gwadar.
In addition to oil and coal, renewable energy plants are also in construction in Gwadar. A German company is to operate a major solar plant in Gwadar.
New transports for Gwadar
With the CPEC, Gwadar will become a major transport hub. Many infrastructure projects are currently in construction.
- Inaugurated in 2007, Gwadar deep sea port became fully operational in 2016. It currently offers 3 berths, and 4 more berths are under construction. Since 2016, Gwadar port has been operated by “China Overseas Port Holding Company”. The port is well connected to other ports in Asia and Africa.
- Gwadar currently hosts a small airport with few connections. But a new one will be inaugurated n 2023. Owned by a joint venture between Pakistan, Oman and China, the New Gwadar International Airport will become the second largest airport in Pakistan, next to Karachi. Its 3,858-meter-runway will accommodate the largest aircrafts. Both China and Pakistan expect Gwadar to become one of the busiest passengers and cargo airports in the region.
- Gwadar will soon be connected to Pakistani railway, to Karachi and Quetta. It may be possible to transport cargo from Gwadar to China by rail.
- A motorway connects Gwadar to Karachi and Quetta and road modernisation is process