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Home / Features / Second Maritime Leaders Roundtable seeks to strengthen UAE ports leadership
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Second Maritime Leaders Roundtable seeks to strengthen UAE ports leadership

Under the patronage of the Federal Transport Authority for Land and Maritime, FTA, the Tactics Maritime Media and Marasi News have successfully arranged, "The UAE Maritime Leaders Roundtable Discussion," under the theme "To what extent do the UAE ports meet the current demands of the shipping industry?" The event brought together prominent maritime leaders from private and government sectors in the UAE who discussed the status of its maritime industry, the main obstacles that are facing shipowners and marine services companies in dealing with ports in the country, and the issues hindering raising of its national flag on the vessels owned by Emirati companies and businessmen.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and the Chairman of the FTA, explained, "The UAE government prioritises its competency and leading status globally. Today, we are celebrating the achievements of our utmost efforts to maintain our country’s prosperity and progress in the maritime sector. The UAE ports have been ranked as being the largest and preeminent ports worldwide.

"Moreover, we are ranked among the world’s top five countries for being a maritime hub and we are keen on becoming the core of maritime located on the new Silk Road. That is why we have carried on our founding father’s legacy to enhance and develop the UAE’s ports infrastructure to become one of the preferred destinations for ships and shipping lines.

"In order to achieve this goal, we are following our wise leadership’s instructions to listen carefully to the concerns of shipowners and the maritime service companies. That is why we have been keen on joining the IMO Executive Council in order to be able to listen to the global maritime industry concerns. Today and through this roundtable that gathers top maritime decision makers in the UAE, we are listening carefully to what they need.

"Moreover, we are willing to make decisions that will meet their requirements and further foster the UAE's maritime sector. We have kept our promise and have issued a number of decisions based on the recommendations of the first roundtable and today we are waiting for more recommendations that shall make the UAE’s ports one of the prominent ports in the world."

Hessa Al Malek, Executive Director of Maritime Transport at the FTA, clarified, "During the first Maritime Leaders Roundtable, we tackled a number of issues and came up with recommendations that shall satisfy the maritime sector needs in the UAE in order to reinforce the UAE’s position as a preferred destination for maritime investment. After that, we submitted these recommendations to the governments and they responded immediately by issuing a number of decisions.

"I would like to take the opportunity to extend deep gratitude and appreciation to our wise leadership for supporting the maritime sector and abolishing obstacles in front of business leaders and maritime companies in order to develop services in the country and encourage further investments."

The FTA has issued a number of decisions in response to the first Maritime Leaders Roundtable recommendations. These decisions cover a number of aspects, such as Dr. Al Nuaimi’s declaration during the annual meeting to draft a new maritime investment law that considers the dynamics and specifics of the maritime industry.

Khamis Buamim, Board Member, Group CEO and Managing Director of Gulf Navigation Holding, clarified, "The UAE’s ports are overlooking the Arabian Gulf, known for being the world’s oil tank located among the most important routes for maritime trade. Moreover, the UAE’s strategic location makes it an ideal hub for shipping and logistics services. Our ports can provide integrated services that shall add value to the national economy as a whole.

"With the changes in the future of trade and ports, we need to absorb newly established companies through incubator centres that shall open up employment opportunities, promote more sustainable economy, stimulate innovation and attract expertise who will discuss the issues in the sector that will turn into challenges to the business. We need to use the competitive advantages of each port to support the overall marine sector and allow us to take the lead globally."

Ali Al Suwaidi, General Manager of Dubai Maritime City, commented, "Port management entities should invest in the opportunities offered by the ‘UAE Maritime Cluster’ that has an exceptional competitive value by itself, that is not available in any other place. Moreover, by enhancing cooperation and exchange of data between ports, the UAE will become the preferred destination for global shipping lines."

Regarding the development of the infrastructure in the UAE’s ports, Geir Fuglerud, Maritime Area Manager, Middle East and Africa, DNV GL, emphasised, "The UAE ports and marine facilities are known for being advanced, which puts the UAE ahead in this field. However, constant development is needed to ensure that UAE keeps its leading position among the top countries with advanced ports located on the new Silk Road. I believe that the UAE should start taking progressive steps to equip its ports and marine facilities with advanced technology needed for several fields, such as conducting and facilitating inspection services by using smart drones in addition to establishing infrastructure for LNG bunkering."

Ibrahim Behairy, Managing Director at WINGD, specialised in supplying container ships and oil tankers, stated, "We have chosen to invest in the UAE because of its strategic location that attracts major mega-ships that are our target and it is important to collaborate with the ports in the UAE as having companies providing technological solutions in the country will contribute to enhancing the UAE’s position as a preferred destination for ships coming from all over the world.

"These international companies can find maintenance services and spare parts during the period of anchoring in the ports for loading goods or refuelling, and we need to work with the ports to invest in this opportunity, and turn the UAE into a global hub for marine technical services."

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