Maritime investment, a treasure not fully exploited


By Eng. Ali Al Suwaidi

General Manager, Dubai Maritime City

Some investors were reluctant to enter the UAE’s maritime sector, but the historic recent visit by the Chinese President to the UAE was enough to reassure potential investors and alleviate any concerns they might have. This visit was a declaration that the UAE and its ports and maritime sector will be the center of the new “Belt and Road Initiative” will change the global trade rules and redefine trade and logistics powers. This initiative will create new opportunities for providing services to 70% of the world's population in more than 60 countries.

Here, we have to express our deep gratitude for the vision of the Founding Fathers of the UAE, who dedicated large investments for the marine infrastructure over five decades. We are proud that today, we see the results of these investments as Dubai is ranked among the top maritime investment centres in the world. I won’t talk about what has been achieved since the whole world knows about the UAE’s robust maritime infrastructure. Rather, I would touch on future opportunities in the maritime sector and available investments for companies and business people, making use of the available sea, land and air logistics.

In few years, the UAE will become a regional hub among the most competitive in maritime industry and maintenance services. Many big companies have already started building advanced workshops for marine equipment maintenance that are unmatched, from India to Europe. The UAE is also home to some of the world's top ship and boat builders. The country’s strategic location in the heart of the world makes the offshore services sector more feasible to all nearby countries compared to similar facilities in Europe and East Asia. This is supported by the reasonable operational costs and seamless and flexible services the UAE provides to business leaders.

Perhaps the most important issue for businesses is the return on investment, which was a major challenge for the maritime sector in general during the past three years. However, today's market trends are beginning to reverse, especially with the announcement of multi-billion dollar projects by major oil and gas companies led by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Saudi Aramco. These projects are supported by the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, and the projects launched by “Alazm” Strategy of Resolve”. All of this gives strong indications of the attractive returns the maritime sector can offer to investors, bringing to mind the golden days when the sector was exceptionally flourishing when oil prices were very high.

I would like to advise reluctant investors that they can pursue a hedging strategy for entering the market. For this kind of investment, Dubai Maritime City offers comprehensive solutions, from providing ideal office spaces for commercial representation offices next to a large number of international maritime companies, to providing customised on-demand leasing services with a flexible and very easy mechanism that grows according to the growth of the company and its projects; which minimises risks. We can also offer specialized services for the companies such as facilitating contracts, visa issuance, as well as providing all kinds of technical and advisory support. Our services act as if the investor has a local consultant and service agent, reducing the time needed to enter the market and start making profits. Furthermore, our facilities help investors make informed decisions before they expand their maritime investments in the UAE, based on real market knowledge and actual projects on the ground.