December 10, 2017- The UAE's successful bid for Category B Membership under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council is a historic achievement and an important milestone in the country's efforts to become one of the world's leading maritime centers. Today, the world's eyes are on the UAE, which has successfully outshone other major candidates to become the first Arab member to join the Category B body. It aims to further strengthen its global leadership by adding value to international shipping and trade with a focus on key pillars such as innovation and human capital to improve maritime safety policies and environmental security.
UAE's Ambitious Achievements
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Authority for Land and Maritime Transport (FTA), emphasized that the UAE's Category B membership is a result of the ambitious national strategy to create integrated infrastructure and advanced logistics facilities that rank among the best in the world. He noted that the UAE has successfully established itself as an influential force on the regional and international maritime map, supported by a robust maritime sector that accounts for 5 per cent of the national economy which is expected to rise further to 25 per cent. He also pointed out that the local maritime sector has gained huge confidence from the global maritime community for its high-quality logistics services which exceed 20,000 and which fall under the supervision of qualified experts representing more than 220 nationalities.
H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi said: “The UAE is a key player in driving offshore investment in the Middle East region, with a total growth of USD 170 to USD 190 billion between 2014 and 2017. It currently accounts for an estimated 30 to 35 per cent of total regional maritime sector investment at USD 66 billion.
He added that the UAE's Category B membership under the IMO's Council will pave the way for the country to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the global maritime system. He said that the UAE will take advantage of its competitive fundamentals and pioneering experiences as it is considered a strategic location for 20 ports of which 10 are regarded among the best in the world in terms of advanced infrastructure and shipping. He also referred to the UAE's successful operation of 78 ports worldwide, some of which are considered important gateways to the US and Europe.
H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi added: “The UAE's record of exceptional achievements has made it one of the top 20 countries in container port traffic. Its strategic location at the heart of the Arabian Gulf has enabled it to acquire the largest share of total container and cargo movement in the region at 60 per cent. The UAE Government's directive to develop infrastructure according to the highest international standards has enabled the UAE to rank first in the Arab World and fourth globally in quality of port infrastructure as well as place sixth worldwide in seaport infrastructure as shown by the Global Competitiveness Report for 2014 to 2015.”
“The historic win provides a strong boost to nationwide efforts to consolidate the UAE's presence as a major contributor to the accelerated growth of global maritime trade. The country is currently among the world's top 10 in supplying oil and gas at a time when crude oil production is expected to increase from 2.9 million barrels per day to 4 million by 2040. We seek to move forward in the path of innovation and invest in R&D and human capital to anticipate and brighten the future of the maritime sector. We will keep in mind our wise leadership's vision as embodied by the objectives of ‘UAE Centennial 2017' which aims to make the UAE the best and most advanced country in the world,” he added.
The Maritime Sector in the UAE ... A Pathway to Excellence
The UAE has managed to outpace several advanced countries to come to the forefront of maritime activities at the regional and global levels. It has become a Category B member of the IMO Council under the directives of our visionary leadership who have provided limitless support for the development of world-class ports which serve as pathways to advancement and excellence and play significant roles in achieving inclusive and comprehensive development.
The UAE operates some of the best ports worldwide – including those managed by DP World, one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, and Jebel Ali Port which ranked as one of the top 10 seaports in terms of productivity in 2016. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the country's efforts to shape a promising future for the maritime industry; formulate inclusive and integrated development plans for achieving more; create an integrated infrastructure; guarantee the continuity of sustainable development; and advance the indicators of the National Agenda of UAE Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE the first in the world in quality of airport, seaport and road infrastructure.
Shaping an Innovation-based Future for the Maritime Industry
Recognizing the importance of being a game changer and proactively shaping the future of the maritime industry, the UAE has been pursuing innovative techniques and new opportunities while effectively addressing challenges. It has utilized creativity and innovation to analyze future challenges; developed and implemented proactive plans for the sustainable development of the maritime industry consistent with the country's ambitious development process aimed at achieving breakthroughs supportive of the country's present and future interests; and enabled the maritime sector to become a key player in driving economic development and diversifying income sources in preparation for a post-oil era.
In support of these endeavors, the UAE strives to always establish and reinforce the pillars of innovation, knowledge, smart transformation and R&D in the maritime sector. It also seeks to thresh out full-fledged foundations and rules to place the UAE among the most advanced countries in this industry; enhance the global competitiveness of the maritime sector; and promote the country's endeavors in developing the world's maritime navigation standards.
Revamping the Infrastructure of the Maritime Sector
The UAE has spared no effort to improve maritime infrastructure supporting areas such as maritime transportation, navigation, hydrographics, meteorology, search and rescue services, emergency response, and port facilities. It has also worked to enhance measures and policies for facilitating trade, handling goods, and improving logistics. The dossier presented by the UAE for its nomination to the IMO Council includes enormous investments in development and expansion projects for local ports which are forecast to reach AED 157 billion over the next couple of years.
Investing in Human Capital as a Top Priority
It has become imperative for the UAE to constantly invest in human capital for the maritime industry to explore all possible areas and yield positive returns. For this purpose, the UAE strives to develop and train National human capital for creating a vast base of a younger generation with exceptional skills and competencies that put them on the path towards maritime leadership and unleash human development. In terms of education and training, The UAE has spared effort to develop human capital as a key element in driving the growth of the maritime sector in line with the objectives of ‘UAE Centennial 2071.' The focus is on investing more in young talents, enabling future generations to live a happier life and making the UAE one of the best countries in the world.
The UAE believes in the importance of education and training in the maritime industry as part of developmental requirements for coping with the fast-paced progress in education, training and scientific research, in addition to emerging maritime variables and changes at the regional and international levels. The country seeks to support maritime education by establishing a maritime academy as well as R&D institutions aimed at providing prestigious educational standards that uplift creative and innovative ideas supported by academic applied studies and researches. Specialized advisory services for enhancing this crucial sector and sustaining its productivity will be developed as well. In this regard, the UAE has provided major support for the IMO's efforts to establish The World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden.
The UAE aims to promote and optimize environmentally-favorable practices in the maritime sector in order to bolster sustainability efforts. To this end, the UAE is committed to adopting environmentally-friendly best practices and strategies across its ports with the aim of rationalizing power consumption; conserving natural resources; providing clean energy supplies at seashores; controlling gas emissions at ports to help reduce global warming; and applying mechanisms that guarantee the permitted sulfur level in maritime fuel by 2020 in keeping with the resolution of the IMO's Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).
The country is also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in local ports by 25 per cent between 2020 and 2030, as well as to relying more on unmanned smart ships which are equipped with information and communications technologies, smart technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities to optimize their management and operability.
Promoting the Competitiveness of the Maritime Sector
The UAE continues to launch ambitious plans for upgrading the maritime sector's infrastructure and providing an inclusive and integrated portfolio of maritime services for maritime investors from around the globe to attract more leading maritime operators to manage their operations from the UAE. In anticipation of the post-oil era, the country is preparing and implementing proactive plans aimed at contributing to the sustainable development of the maritime sector in order to make it a key player in driving economic growth and supporting the policy of diversifying income sources.
In addition, the country is placing more emphasis on the global promotion of achievements in the maritime industry by highlighting the UAE's leading features and competitive advantages that equal those of the world's leading maritime countries.
UAE Main Supporter of International Maritime Protocols
The UAE has high confidence in the local maritime sector in accordance with its firm commitment to international maritime protocols and conventions. The country pays particular attention to the development of local laws and regulations in line with the highest international standards in order to accelerate the growth of the local maritime sector. The domestic sector is witnessing remarkable development, particularly in its ports; operation, maintenance and construction of ships and drydocks; and financing and insurance. Progress is being made in accordance with international maritime safety and security standards and under the guidance of the wise leadership to develop, regulate and enhance the competitiveness of the maritime industry.
The UAE has been a member of the International Maritime Organization since 1980 and has participated in many international maritime protocols, such as the ‘Protocol of 1988 Relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966'; ‘SOLAS: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974'; and the ‘International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water Ballast Water and Sediments (CSC) of 1972.'
The country also includes the promotion of international maritime cooperation among its top strategic priorities, already having signed more than 25 bilateral maritime agreements. In line with the IMO Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL), the UAE has launched an electronic platform to complete transactions in ports without papers in a move to enhance the efficiency of services provided at local ports.
H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi thanked the countries that supported the UAE's candidacy as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ports and the local maritime authorities for their role in achieving the historic win. He also praised the exceptional efforts and dedication shown by the working team supporting the UAE's campaign, which provided a vivid example of the strong partnership between the public and private sectors to promote the UAE globally.
The International Maritime Organization is a United Nations organization and the international legislator for all maritime laws and conventions related to the safety of maritime navigation and the marine environment. Established in 1948, the organization is responsible for the maritime transport industry with a focus on improving maritime security and combating ship pollution through the establishment of an international system of distress signals and search and rescue operations. It consists of 40 countries falling under three categories; A and B, which each consist of 10 member countries, and C, which includes 20 states elected every two years.