The Ports Authority reports that in 1996 it handled more than 87 million tons (60 million in exports, 27 million in imports) of goods other than petroleum, an increase of 11 percent over the previous fiscal year. Over the past twelve years, the Ports Authority has realized SR 9 billion (U.S. $ 2.4 billion) in surplus revenues. Recently, a three-year project was concluded for the maintenance and operation of Jeddah Islamic Port's container terminal, which is one of the largest in the region, and with a depth of 14 meters is designed to receive seven huge vessels at any one time. During 1996, this terminal handled more than 827,000 containers, 72 percent of the total for the Kingdom.
As part of its efforts to ensure a qualified Saudi workforce, during 1996 the Ports Authority trained 819 officers at its two training centers in Jeddah and Jubail. This brings the number of trained personnel to 16,000 since its establishment in 1976. The workforce is now 95 percent Saudi in all ports, and 100 percent in the maritime guidance section. Saudi ports are one of the most important economic sectors in the Kingdom and play a crucial role in the national development plans.