In his opening statement during the 30th Ordinary General Assembly of the International Maritime Organization held in London, His Excellency (H.E.) Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority - Land and Maritime, expressed the UAE’s commitment to provide an ideal environment to further drive the growth of multinational marine companies, supported by its strategic geographic location situated along some of the busiest trade routes in the world. Speaking in the presence of His Excellency (H.E) Dr. Eng. Abdullah Salem Al Kathiri, Director General of the Federal Authority for Land and Marine Transport (FTA) and members of the candidate support team, Al Nuaimi showcased the UAE’s competitive advantages matching the world’s leading maritime centres.
New members of the international organization were elected during the IMO’s latest General Assembly, which provided a platform for highlighting the vital role of the UAE in enhancing the international maritime system and driving more growth in global maritime trade, supported by its leading achievements in the sector. The UAE manages 20 seaports, many of which rank among the world’s top 10 due to their world-class infrastructure for maritime transportation and shipping services.
H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi also reviewed the UAE’s contributions in shaping the future of the international maritime sector by entering into agreements with the IMO and making relentless efforts to promote the maritime industry. He shared that the UAE offers an ideal maritime platform for doing business with the Arab countries, East Africa and the Indian Subcontinent, providing access to leading markets in Europe and Asia. He pointed out that the UAE's regional dominance, its third global standing in terms of port infrastructure quality and sixth ranking in maritime port infrastructure under the 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Index, attests to the country's leading position as one of the top 10 oil and gas suppliers to global maritime trade, especially as crude oil production is expected to increase from 2.9 million to 4 million barrels per day by 2040.
"The UAE deserves to be an IMO Category B member, given its track record of leadership and excellence in developing world-class ports. Last year, the country received 13,507 international cruises, becoming one of the world's top four port operators. Jebel Ali Port placed among the global top 10 ports in terms of productivity in 2016. The UAE's highly competitive advantages in marine shipping are enhanced thanks largely to the guidance and unlimited support of the wise leadership to develop an integrated infrastructure and advanced world-class logistics facilities. The UAE is a founding partner of the United Arab Shipping Company, the largest container shipping line in the Middle East region and one of the top 20 leading companies within the global maritime transport and shipping sector."
H.E. added: “Today, international confidence in the local maritime sector is high thanks to its modern legislative and legal environment adhering to the highest international standards. The UAE, a member of the International Maritime Organization since 1980, has signed many international maritime protocols such as the 1988 protocol on International Convention on Load Lines, 1966, the 1988 protocol on the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 and the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972. These strongly support the UAE’s candidacy for Category B membership under the IMO Council.”
The Minister further emphasized that the UAE considers the promotion of international maritime cooperation a high priority, revealing that the country has signed more than 25 bilateral agreements in the field of maritime transport.
"As one of the fastest growing maritime hubs in the world, the UAE seeks to add value to global trade and international maritime transport and shipping. It is committed to promoting the international maritime system and developing and implementing the standards governing maritime transport policy and regulation, “he said.
He added: "The UAE plans to implement quality research, development and innovation initiatives as part of its efforts to shape a new future for the maritime sector. In line with its commitment to lead technological development, the UAE has launched an electronic platform to complete transactions in ports without having to submit paper forms, in line with the IMO Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic and in order to enhance the efficiency of services provided in the local ports.”
“In the field of training and education, the UAE is continuously improving the level of human resources to enable them to contribute to the growth of the maritime sector, in line with UAE Centennial 2071 which aims to invest in youths to make the UAE the best and most advanced country in the world. I would like to note, that the UAE supported the efforts of the International Maritime Organization to establish the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden. In the environmental field, the country is taking serious steps towards enhancing environmental security through its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ports by 25 per cent between 2020 and 2030, “he said.
"Our country is determined to continue its march to consolidate its strong presence on the global maritime map, supported by the guidance of our wise leadership. We are committed to support the IMO in implementing its vision to build a secure maritime sector based on productivity, responsibility and sustainability. We hope to be a member of the IMO Council, as it will offer us the opportunity to play a leading role in developing the maritime system and accelerating the growth of maritime trade globally," H.E. concluded.
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, met with H.E. Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to discuss the UAE’s nomination for Category B membership of the IMO Council. The meeting included a discussion covering important topics such as the Disclosure of results of IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) program, which was conducted in May 2016, as well as the corrective work plan in order to achieve transparency and to benefit from Member States’ experiences. Discussions also included the approval of the Ballast Water Management Convention, which was adopted in 2004 and aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another though Federal Decree No (6) of 2017. The two sides also talked about exploring potential cooperation in the port field and ‘green’ ports and ships, noting the decision to set the amount of sulfur (0.5 per cent) for ship fuel that will take effect on January 2020, as well as cooperation in research on alternative clean fuel for ships.
The meeting also saw the review of the ongoing international efforts related to the Paris Convention of 2015 and the United Nations Plan of Action 2030, particularly Goal No.(13) within the Sustainable Development Goals--taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through coordination between the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, UAE Maritime Transport Authorities and the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
Al Nuaimi showcased the UAE’s efforts to ensure the successful implementation of FTA’s strategy for the maritime sector in accordance with its set objectives for 2018-2023, which will be adopted during the General Assembly of IMO at the end of this year, with integration and exploration of opportunities in the IMO’s Technical Cooperation Program 2018-2019 as part of the FTA’s activities—further ensuring the integration between FTA’S strategy and IMO’s Technical Cooperative Program and the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal No.(14) within the Sustainable Development Goals to ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.’
The meeting concluded by discussing the launch of a scholarship program for UAE citizens seeking a bachelor's degrees in marine specialties. The program looks towards awarding deserving students with a scholarship to complete their studies at the World Maritime University (WMU) and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) as part of UAE’s Government Leadership Development Program, which is aimed to empower future leaders, as well as the organization and implementation of regional workshops on the supervision of classification authorities.
It’s worth mentioning that a team has been set up to support the nomination of the UAE to the IMO Council, comprising representatives from the Federal Transport Authority Land & Maritime, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, Ports and Free Zones Authority, Federal Customs Authority and the Dubai Maritime City Authority, ADNOC, DP World, Abu Dhabi Ports, Sharjah Ports and Customs Department, SAQR Port Authority in Ras Al Khaimah and Emirates Rating Authority.