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Local maritime sector positioned to be a key contributor to efforts to diversify UAE economy in preparation for post-oil phase

Saturday, October 7, 2017
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His Excellency (H.E.) Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Authority for Land and Maritime Transport (FTA), stressed on the importance of utilizing innovation in the move to explore the future of the UAE’s maritime sector, during a meeting he conducted with the country’s top port officials. He encouraged the port managers to play a lead role in the move to discover opportunities and challenges—tapping onto creativity and innovation for the development and implementation of proactive plans in the efforts towards achieving the sustainable development of the local maritime sector. He explained that the positive results of these efforts further reinforce the maritime sector's commitment to become a major contributor in the continuing efforts to accelerate economic growth and support economic diversification in preparation for a post-oil phase. The move also follows the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who stated that, 'Innovation today is not an option but a necessity; not a public culture but a working method. Governments and companies that do not renew or innovate themselves will lose their competitiveness and rule itself by retreating.'

The meeting also focused on developing standards and guidelines that can help the UAE reinforce its position among the world's top maritime economies and help enhance the international competitiveness of the local maritime sector. H.E. emphasized on the significance of these efforts, especially taking note that the UAE is an incubator for 20 of the world's leading ports with some being among the top 10 ports in terms of advanced infrastructure in the field of transport and shipping. It also operates more than 77 ports outside of the UAE.        

Minister Al Nuaimi shared that the UAE occupies a prominent international position and widely acknowledged as an influential player in the global maritime segment, which is supported by its competitive advantages and qualified competencies to keep abreast of technological developments, lead the march of excellence and innovation and contribute to the development of international maritime standards. He also explained the significance of investing in human resources and education for the maritime segment in order to be ahead--having the ability to look towards the future and develop solutions to address future challenges of the maritime segment.

The meeting discussed several main topics, including the UAE bid for Category B membership of IMO and how to gain the support of the countries during the coming voting phase. Winning membership will allow the UAE to continue its influential role in strengthening the international maritime sector; driving the growth of global maritime trade and to participate in the development and implementation of laws of the international maritime sector. The meeting also discussed ways on how to further develop and modernize the maritime sector and achieve the national agenda indicators set forth in UAE Vision 2021, which is aimed towards creating integrated infrastructure and guaranteeing the continuity of sustainable development.

The meeting also covered the move to utilize environmentally friendly ports for the provision of clean environmental energy supplies to beaches, reduction of greenhouse gases emitted from ports and ways to achieve the permissible percentage of sulfur in marine fuels by 2020—which falls in line with the decision of the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the IMO. Also discussed was the importance of innovation in the future of ports to facilitate the movement of international maritime trade and the automation of marine terminals in accordance with the requirements of the 21st century. The Minister also shared developments in the move to implement an e-Marine trading system and adoption of international best practices to transform ports into developed logistics centers-- the future of ports under the next generation of self-driving ships; the use of satellites to manage fleets; further development of the maritime system, and the development of a marine integrated, safe and sustainable environment.

The UAE has been ranked in top positions across international ports and marine infrastructure indices. The country has 20 of the world's leading ports, some of them are among the top 10 ports in terms of advanced transport and shipping infrastructure. The country also operates 77 ports around the world, reflecting its apparent impact on the international maritime sector. The UAE attaches great importance to investing in the maritime sector as one of the main engines of the national economy. The marine sector accounts for five per cent of the UAE economy with a total value of AED 200 billion and is expected to rise to 25 per cent in the coming years. It is expected that the value of investments in projects to develop and expand the ports of the UAE in the coming years to about AED 157 billion.

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