The Gulf is in the forefront of maritime trade in the Middle East and North Africa region

THE GCC’s growing economy and the very significant role that ocean trade plays in world trade serve as backdrops to the Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) exhibition and conference that will run in late October in Dubai.

The opportunities and challenges faced by the Middle East maritime industry will top the agenda at the event taking place from October 28 to 30 at the Dubai International Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Chris Hayman, chairman of organisers, Seatrade, said: “According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), world trade growth of 4.5 per cent is expected this year, which although slower than the five per cent previously forecast, is still nearly double the 2.5 per cent growth expected for 2013.

“The WTO added that conditions for improved trade are gradually falling into place, although the past few years of sluggish trade growth had reinforced the need to make progress in the multilateral negotiations.”

The GCC trade surplus is estimated to have hit at least $492 billion last year, and exports topped $1 trillion in 2012, a third of which were exported from UAE ports, said the report. Hydrocarbons represented $692 billion or almost 70 per cent of the total export value.

“Given the global economic backdrop, these are impressive figures, the GCC is now the 12th largest economy in the world reaching $1.56 trillion in 2012 according to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi,” said Hayman.

According to economic data from the IMF, the global economy will grow by 3.7 per cent this year and 3.9 per cent next year.

“With more than 90 per cent of worldwide trade moving by sea, these economic pointers fare well for the region’s shipping industry which remains a vital part of commercial activity. Even if the Eurozone continues to produce anaemic growth, it is hardly likely to hurt the oil exporters in the Gulf countries because the Eurozone sources the majority of its hydrocarbons from Russia and West Africa,” said Hayman. 

The conference will bring together a panel of maritime industry leaders, influential economists and shipping analysts to address these and other key industry issues.

The experts will provide critical insight into what the future holds for trade patterns, energy demand and supply, investment, mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure and their effect on the regional maritime industry, short to medium term.

More than 7,000 participants are expected to attend along with 240 exhibitors covering more than 4,350 sq m of exhibition space.

The seventh edition of the conference has included ‘Offshore Marine,’ a dedicated vertical which will add another sector of interest.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the three-day event is also the largest of its kind in the regional calendar. The SMEM exhibition focuses on marine equipment, products and servicing companies. “SMEM has come of age after showing record attendance two years ago. “This will be the seventh event and already there are indications that it will expand even further due to the rapid development of newbuilds, conversions and repair yards in the Arabian Gulf and more particular, Dubai,” an SMEM statement said.

Dubai Maritime Week, organised by Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), is held in conjunction with SMEM.