Eng-Hassan-Mohammed Juma Al Mansouri

The UAE is constantly pushing its limits through ground-breaking initiatives to foster an environment conducive to growth and expansion of the maritime sector, attracting massive foreign investments from global leading maritime organisations looking to establish their headquarters in the country, a senior official has said.

"As a result, we will be able to add significantly to the AED90 billion ( ($24.51 billion) the sector has been contributing to the national economy, and enhance the industry’s role in the country’s success,” said Eng. Hassan Mohammed Juma Al Mansouri, Undersecretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.

He was speaking after opening the Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East in Dubai.

Held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI UAE), Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East is the region’s leading shipping and maritime supply chain event. Placed at the heart of the UAE Maritime Week, the conference and exhibition witnessed the participation of renowned industry leaders, experts, and policymakers from around the world, who discussed and showcased the most recent advancements and best practices in the industry.

Speaking on the UAE's vision and strategic plan to advance its maritime and logistics sectors’ growth and development, Al Mansouri highlighted the UAE's significant progress in expanding and modernising its ports, increasing cargo volumes, and strengthening its position as a global trade hub.

Al Mansouri said: "Through strategic investments in infrastructure, technology, and talent development, the UAE has established itself as one of the most dynamic and innovative maritime hubs across the globe. Capitalising on the capabilities of our state-of-the-art ports, several of which rank amongst the top 10 globally, we have been able to handle over 25,000 port calls, and more than 19 million TEUs annually, cementing our position as a preferred destination for international trade. Despite achieving these significant numbers, we are dedicated to further development and progress."

The Ministerial and Government address was followed by an exclusive video address by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO). During his virtual address, Lim stressed on the importance of cooperation and collaboration to drive the maritime sector towards a brighter future. He also emphasised on the need for decarbonisation, digitalisation, and automation for more efficient global supply chains.


Spotlighting sectoral developments

Vassilios Kroustallis, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, said: “As a global maritime centre and leader, UAE’s hosting of COP 28 represents a golden opportunity to demonstrate how our industry is responding to the siren call for a more sustainable model and is bringing together the extensive roll call of stakeholders we need to drive genuine change. Of course, we in the marine industries are already operating in the midst of a perfect storm of technology disruption and rapid regulatory change triggered by the twin forces of decarbonisation and digitalisation. The last few years have shown how preparing for the unexpected must now be business as usual. I am looking forward to participating in Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East, and having some interactive discussions around the energy transition, new technologies trends, and regulatory compliance.”


Road to COP28

As the UAE gears up to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in November this year, the country's preparations were a hot topic at the event. "The Road to COP28: Maritime's Responsibilities, Opportunities, and New Projects” session brought together stakeholders from the UAE's COP28 team to discuss the regional maritime and logistics community’s plan of action, shed light on the innovation, leadership, and technical prowess of the sector, and how it can be leveraged to drive sustainability and success. It also highlighted the importance of COP28 in raising awareness about sustainable operations and inspiring action at all levels.

Chris Hayman, Chairman Emeritus, Seatrade, said: "With a significant increase in attendees this year, and the signing of some crucial agreements between the public and private sectors, we can say with a lot of conviction that the 2023 edition of Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East witnessed an impressive opening. The strong turnout is a testament to the importance of the event and the industry it serves. As we discover new opportunities in the sector, this event will continue to provide a critical platform for knowledge-sharing, networking, and collaboration to ensure a more sustainable, prosperous, and resilient future for all.”


Leaders’ Roundtable

Earlier, the Maritime Government Leaders Roundtable marked the beginning of the UAE Maritime Week 2023. The roundtable was attended by industry leaders, policymakers, and experts from key government and private sector organisations, who highlighted the strategic importance of the maritime industry in the UAE and the Middle East.

The roundtable themed, ‘The Roadmap for Unlocking Maritime Sustainable Opportunities’, identified critical issues facing the sector, and stressed on the latest trends, technologies, and innovations shaping the future of the industry. It also underscored the need for Public-Private Partnerships, industry-wide collaborations, and innovation to drive the sector’s sustainable growth and development.

 During the roundtable, Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs, MOEI UAE said: “Located at the crossroads of major trade routes, the UAE is a key enabler of global supply chain continuity. The nation has capitalised on this advantage through substantial investments in the development of top-notch port facilities, logistics infrastructure, and programs aimed at enhancing talent in the maritime industry. The country’s sustained investment in the sector is a clear indication of its vision for the future, and its efforts have paid off in cementing its position as a leader in the global maritime spectrum. The UAE’s proactive approach to creating an environment conducive to innovation and collaboration have further raised its rank as a significant player in the maritime world.”

 Driving sustainable future

Anders Østergaard, Secretary General of Emirates Shipping Association and CEO of Monjasa, said: “The capabilities of the UAE’s maritime sector are well known all over the world. Ranked 3rd globally in facilitating seaborne trade, 7th in container handling capacity, and 12th in efficiency of seaport services; the nation continues to stay at the top of international charts. These numbers would have been impossible to achieve without detailed discussions and careful planning of our strategies and initiatives to ensure success. As a result of our sustained efforts, the UAE has become a preferred destination for international maritime businesses seeking to expand their operations globally, by leveraging the strategic advantages of the Middle East and the wider Asia-Pacific region.”

The roundtable, moderated by Fazel A Fazelbhoy, CEO, Synergy Offshore FZ, and Chris Hayman, Chairman, Seatrade, provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity to analyse possible areas of expansion for the industry, and chart out details of the way forward for the sector in the UAE ahead of the COP28 scheduled to be held later this year.

 Hayman said: “The Maritime Government Leaders Roundtable has truly set the tone for the rest of the Week and events under its umbrella, including the Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East 2023. By facilitating discussions on key issues such as decarbonisation, digitalisation, talent development, maritime security, and sectoral growth drivers, the roundtable helped us identify areas where stakeholders can work together to address the challenges facing the industry. The perspectives shared have been enlightening and reassuring about the future of maritime.”