Al Kathiri: UAE confidently moves towards global leadership in the maritime sector


Sea and land transport infrastructure is the cornerstone for building economic and growth capabilities, and the driver for urban, industrial and commercial development. In the UAE, which is strategically located in the centre of international maritime trade routes, the Federal Transport Authority for Land and Maritime takes the responsibility of developing strategies that ensure UAE’s leadership in the transport sector.

Marasi News had this exclusive interview with Dr. Abdullah Al KathiriDirector General of Federal Transport Authority - Land and Maritime (FTA), on highlighting FTA’s role, vision and strategies to make the UAE a global maritime hub

by: Mohammed Bin Dakhin Al Matroushi

  1. Two years ago, you set up a committee to amend UAE maritime law. What are the latest developments?

FTA has completed the first phase of a project to modernise the UAE maritime law. Currently, the team is studying all views and updates to ensure consistency with new amendments, and integration with the future of the UAE’s maritime sector. The new project includes legal frameworks to ensure integration of local and international legislations that govern maritime safety around the world. It also opens up wider and more comprehensive investment opportunities in the UAE maritime sector and marine industries, within a national strategy, involving all stakeholders. The new maritime law replaces ‘Federal Law No. 26 of 1981 on Maritime Commercial Law’ with . The new law covers all procedures and frameworks related to the UAE maritime transport sector.

  1. How can the maritime sector be developed through legislation and legal frameworks?

FTA issued 10 ministerial executive resolutions for all mandatory international maritime conventions. We are currently implementing a plan to develop standards for regulating navigation, and enhancing maritime safety and security and environmental protection for commercial ships in the UAE ports and territorial waters. We are also working on developing the necessary maritime legislations and identifying priorities for regulatory projects known as "."

  1. What are FTA’s strategies for advancing the UAE’s maritime sector?

FTA’s current priorities include organising the maritime transport sector and developing the legislations that enhance its competitiveness. We have a programme based on a clear vision, effective contribution, and well thought-out strategy to maintain the UAE’s excellence and leadership. This is achieved by consolidating a culture of innovation in our organisational environment, and providing all administrative services according to the highest standards of quality, efficiency and transparency. We also work to develop regional and international relations, propose policies and enact the necessary laws that ensure the efficiency, development and safety of land and marine transport. This in turn, contributes to developing this vital sector in the UAE, combines the efforts of local organisations and highlights their achievements internationally.

  1. Effective communication is key to the success of any strategy? How do you communicate with maritime organisations?

FTA is working to sustain communication and coordination with all strategic partners in the UAE maritime transport sector. There is a permanent communication channel with partners through the Marine Technical Council, which includes 27 organisations related to maritime transport. These include organisations, bodies, companies and municipalities in the UAE. Regular meetings are held to discuss topics related to maritime transport and its development.

  1. What are your key efforts for developing the marine licensing system in the UAE?

FTA has a key role in developing the marine licensing system. The customer service department and its centres license foreign vessels after making sure they meet all the conditions, and after receiving a report from the Maritime Inspection Department, confirming the ship’s safety. Issuing the permit is electronically linked to inspection approval. The permit is reviewed by the inspector and the customer service agent.

Shipping agents are closely monitored to make sure they provide original documents for licensing foreign vessels in the UAE. The licensing form has been modified to make it compulsory for ship owners or licensees to renew insurance policies. It also informs them about the expiry of the safety or insurance certificates, and the need to go to FTA and update the licensing information.

  1. What are the latest developments in UAE’s nomination for IMO Executive Board membership?

The UAE is an active member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). We want to run for a seat on the IMO Board again this year. A team has been formed from various related bodies in the UAE to support the UAE’s nomination. HE the Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime, issued a resolution to form the team who is currently preparing the nomination portfolio and marketing plan that include key factors that support the UAE’s position in the maritime sector.

  1. UAE Classification Society (TASNEEF) is the first Arab organisation specialising in ship classification and standard development, serving the national and regional maritime sector. What added value can TASNEEF offer in this area? And how can it develop its performance to support FTA’s strategic goals?

TASNEEF is a qualitative addition to the maritime classification sector. It works professionally to contribute to the development of the maritime sector in the UAE and GCC by building knowledge and technical capabilities. We are encouraged to provide our full support by accrediting and delegating TASNEEF, giving it the same technical status as classification members under the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). This is a great technical and marketing support despite being new in the marine classification sector.

 We also provide support to TASNEEF as a national organisation and the first Arab classification society, taking into account its partnership with the Italian Classification Authority (RINA). We value TASNEEF’s role in enhancing maritime safety and marine environmental protection by developing technical standards for ship building and operation, conducting research and development, providing technical support, and verifying compliance with IMO standards, especially with regard to implementing the UAE Yacht Code.

  1. What is your role in spreading awareness to reduce maritime accidents in the UAE?

Through the National Committee for Investigating Maritime Accidents, we follow a precise approach in the geographical distribution of its members to ensure quick presence at accident scenes. We also prepare detailed reports with recommendations to prevent recurrence of incidents and post them on IMO website to create global awareness by learning from mistakes.

There’s ongoing training for the committee members and technical staff at FTA. We also conduct training in inspection of national and foreign vessels to ensure their safety and seaworthiness. We continuously publish awareness material on marine developments issued by competent organisations. We use state-of-the-art companies to monitor the eco-system in the event of marine pollution incidents, in order to protect the marine environment.

  1. In your opinion, how can the UAE become a global hub for maritime transport and logistics?

The marine transport industry, organisation and control depend on the standards and levels of safety and quality in line with the best international practices and standards. This will contribute to reaching a prominent position in the marine sector that keeps up with the UAE’s competitiveness regionally and globally. This requires implementing international standards and developing safety and quality standards according to the highest international practices and standards.


The UAE moves confidently towards global leadership in the maritime sector

Enhancing the position of the UAE as a marine hub depends on a number of factors and enablers:

  • Implementing international standards and developing safety and quality standards according to best international practices and standards
  • Optimal use of existing marine transport facilities
  • Focusing on maritime education and training in all disciplines, and qualifying people in maritime law, safety and economy
  • Complying with IMO resolutions such as International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS)
  • Maintaining UAE ports within the global network of environmentally-friendly ports (ECO Ports)
  • Providing statistics on the marine sector performance, with accurate data and information to be used for analyses and planning to develop marine strategies
  • Adopting and developing multimodal transport using integrated automation and quality solutions
  • Developing strategies to encourage investments to develop the maritime sector
  • Enhancing private sector contribution in the maritime transport sector
  • Emphasising presence of public and private sectors in international events, with a regional focus

We’re committed to supporting the UAE’s long-term economic objectives, and look forward to further cooperation to establish the UAE as a prestigious global maritime hub

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