GOP chairman addresses financial challenges and investment opportunities at the region’s premier maritime conference

Published October 14th, 2009 - 07:58 GMT

Speaking at one of the region’s premier maritime events, the Middle East Money & Ships Conference, Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Chairman of the General Organisation of Seaports (GOP) – Bahrain, addressed the opening session with comments exploring the challenges and opportunities that have come hand in hand with the global financial downturn.  The event was held in Dubai on the 7th and 8th of October, and was attended by senior government and business leaders from the maritime industry.  Topics on discussion included the financial challenges, investment opportunities and the expansion of the shipping industry throughout the region

Highlighting the impact of the financial crisis on the shipping and port industry in the region, Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Al Khalifa said: “The severity of the crisis is unprecedented in recent times. Though the Gulf economies have been less affected, the economic slowdown has to some extent affected the port and logistics sector in the region with leading port operators reporting a reduced volume of business and earnings during the first half of the year.”

However, he praised the efforts of the respective governments: their timely assistance and prudent fiscal policies helping to prevent the crisis from becoming a catastrophe. Emphasising that this sector is becoming increasingly competitive, he said: “Things are now looking up, there are signs that the investors will reap rich rewards in the medium and long term. A number of new ports are emerging in the region and existing port facilities are expanding their infrastructure. I have no doubt that healthy competition among the regional ports will result in increased efficiency and speed as well as the provision of world class services at competitive rates.”

Speaking of the Kingdom’s new port facility, he said that with the significant increase in capacity, not only will the Kingdom of Bahrain be better served, but also the rest of the Gulf region will be better and more efficiently served. The new port has a depth of 15 metres, allowing fourth-generation container vessels to dock, and is able to process 10,000 containers at a time, putting it in the top bracket of regional ports.

He further added: “Every crisis, with its challenges, brings forth many opportunities as well.  For instance, in the current global economic conditions, the cost of the latest technology and equipment has been and will continue to come down considerably.  Rationalising of costs and increasing effectiveness and efficiency of production are intrinsic opportunities for companies to look at, at these times.”

In his concluding remarks Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Al Khalifa said: “I firmly believe that the global economy will recover sooner than most people thought. There are already clear signs of economic recovery in many parts of the world.  The recession that has pervaded the global economies in general during the past year or so is lifting, and we are beginning to see signs of improvement.  I am sure that it will not be long before we see the signs of full recovery around the world, leading to better standards of living throughout the world community.”

Other eminent speakers at the event included : His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif A. Sultan, Secretary General, Organization of the Islamic Shipowners’ Association (OISA), Ahmed Al Falahi, CEO, Gulf Energy Maritime and Mohammad Souri, Chairman & Managing Director, NITC, amongst others. The two day conference was followed by the 6th Seatrade Middle East & Indian Subcontinent Awards that honoured the region’s top achievers.

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