From taxis to garbage trucks – on water

Published May 4th, 2008 - 08:08 GMT

Overwhelming response to Middle East Workboats, the region’s first ever dedicated event; 50% increase forecast for 2009

Overwhelmed by reaction to the Middle East first-ever event dedicated to workboats, the organisers have announced next year’s show is expected to grow by 50%, with an added focus on the upsurge in vessels to support massive regional waterfront and offshore developments.

Middle East Workboats took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre  under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Public Works and Chairman of the National Transport Authority.

Increased demand in the Arabian Gulf for offshore supply vessels, barges, dredgers, tugboats, crew boats and fast ferries as well as specialised craft and equipment is providing major new business opportunities for the region, said Seatrade, the event organisers. It is estimated that more than 2,000 vessels categorised as workboats are operating in the Middle East

With around 2,000 participants from 44 countries, visitors to Middle East Workboats this year included government ministers, high level municipality officials and top management from a wide range of industries including the oil and gas sector.

The event patron, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Public Works and Chairman of the National Transport Authority, recognised the importance of the show as a platform for the regional industry. “There are a large number of marine projects including new islands, gas and oil operations which require marine transport and other related services,” he said.

Announcing the second Middle East Workboats will also be held in Abu Dhabi (5-7 October 2009), Seatrade said interest was extremely strong. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive reactions to this first show with exhibitors not only re-booking for 2009 but increasing space,” said Christopher Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade. “In addition, many companies who did not exhibit this time round are booking for next year,” he added. “We are confident of a 50% increase for next year. The Singapore pavilion in 2009 will be doubling in size, for example.”

From Spain, ship repair and conversion company Astander said Middle East Workboats had provided an opportunity to improve its customer base in the region. “We have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of visitors to this show and we have a realistic chance of getting new work from our attendance here,” said Alfonso Campos, of Astander’s sales and marketing department.

“This has been an excellent event in its inaugural year,” said Gary Dockerty, Group Business Development Manager, for Sharjah-based Lamnalco. “As a Middle East company with markets in Africa, Eastern Europe and Australasia, we have found Middle East Workboats to be a valuable channel for our continued growth.”

Singapore had a strong representation at Middle East Workboats. “This region is important for a company such as ours,” said David Lui, Business Development and Marketing Manager of Penguin Boat International, which specialises in construction, repair, operation and trading of high-speed commercial vessels.
“This show has provided a good opportunity to meet up with our clients in the region and establish new customers,” he added.

Hayman said several factors were driving growth in the Middle East workboat market, not least being higher oil prices leading to greater returns and encouraging more exploration and production in deeper waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Of increasing importance are the massive waterfront, island and marine developments taking place around the shores of the Arabian Gulf. “These have made the region one of the biggest in the world in terms of dredgers and vessels involved in the construction phase of these projects,” Hayman added.

“Equal important is marine support of developments such as the Palms of Dubai and the island resort projects of Abu Dhabi. It means everything from supply vessels for goods, marine garbage ‘trucks’ as well as fleets of new water taxis and water buses of all sizes to ferry people including residents, guests and workers to and fro.  We even had a company visiting the show looking to source up to 40 civilian marine ambulances that can land on beaches.

“No-one is yet quite sure how big this market will become but companies that took part in Middle East Workboats hoping to eventually land orders suggest the region will become the world’s biggest market for passenger carrying vessels such as water taxis and water buses.”

Alongside the exhibition, the Middle East Workboats conference examined the challenges faced by the industry with a speaker faculty including senior officials from Saudi Aramco, the International Marine Contractors Association, Hadef Legal Consultants, DVB Bank, Bureau Veritas, American Bureau of Shipping, Damen Shipyards, Abu Dhabi Ship Building, Lloyd’s Register, Lamnalco, Wärtsilä, C-MAR Group, Robert Allan Ltd., Ras Laffan Port, V Ships and Bernhard Schulte Ship Management.

Middle East Workboats received wide industry backing with sponsors including: ADNOC/ESNAAD/IRSHAD, Det Norske Veritas, Hadef, Lamnalco Group, NICO International, Svitzer Middle East Ltd, Wärtsilä Corporation and. Zahker Marine International.  Supporting organisations include the International Marine Contractors Association and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects.

For more details about Middle East Workboats, please visit:


About Seatrade

Seatrade is among the shipping world's most respected brands, specialising in publications, events, management training, awards schemes and websites covering all aspects of maritime activity. In 2004 Seatrade Middle East opened, in Dubai, emphasising the company's commitment to the region.

Seatrade Middle East Maritime will return for the fourth time to Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 14 -16 December 2008.

Seatrade is also involved in the organisation of the Seatrade Academy management training courses for shipping professionals, in association with the Cambridge Academy of Transport. The prospectus has expanded to include three courses at Knowledge Village, Dubai. Please visit for details.




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