As the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world and halted all business activities, most companies suffered a backlash in terms of revenue and had to either downsize their workforce, or were forced to continue operating without employees being paid salaries regularly. Along with travel restrictions imposed by governments getting tighter, and transport of goods becoming an increasingly difficult task, most shipping companies faced the heat of the challenges that came with the pandemic. During this time period, it was no longer the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the ones that were the fastest to adapt to change.
Despite the unusual and difficult circumstances that prevailed during the beginning of the pandemic, the shipping industry was quick at adapting to the conditions and continued to operate in order to ensure that trade was carried out smoothly between countries. As a result of the rapid development and enhancement in workflow in order to adapt to the unusual happenings worldwide, the shipping industry managed to not only survive during the pandemic, but also experienced an unexpected steady growth.
Mr. Juma Khalifah Abushibs, Chairman of Deena Shipping LLC, briefed Marasi News on how Deena, along with the other ship building companies, tackled the pandemic related challenges in order to survive and grow during the post-covid era.
How do you see the shipping industry performing during the post-covid era?
After the COVID-19 hit the world, many companies collapsed due to the lack of income for over three months, and a lot of vessels in the Gulf region had to anchor in their areas without any work for a long period of time; but we were always hopeful that things would eventually get under control. Even in our company, we had to reduce the number of people working for us and had to ask a few of them to stay on leave until the crisis got under control. However, we were always on the look-out to see if things got stable in the initial six to seven months of the pandemic, and now, we are very relieved to see how the shipping industry has recovered from the crisis and is moving towards growth and progress.
The maritime industry has shown an exceptional steady growth during the pandemic, to what extent does that reflect on your company’s performance?
In our company, we had a strong base, as a result of which, we had a decent amount of business during these critical times as well. Although the first few months were quite challenging, we continued to operate with many ships chartering from one area to another, which is the main reason behind the company’s continued progress despite the COVID-19 crisis.
As far as we are concerned, we are hopeful that the shipping industry will have a bright future, and a lot of business will be coming in UAE’s direction. As a ship building company, we have built two vessels for the UAE Navy and have also built one training vessel, which will be launched anytime soon, and will be delivered in August this year.
How did you ensure that your company experiences constant growth despite the pandemic, and how strong is your business model?
During the pandemic, we did not care much about the company’s profit margin, but instead made sure that everyone working for the company gets his/her salary on time and does not have to experience a tough time because of the crisis. We have and are willing to adapt according to how the situation changes in the next two or three months, and have planned our budget in such a way that if required, one department is capable enough to help another department in the company survive until this crisis comes to an end.
Even during such challenging times, we were able to develop two 80 meter vessels which have been delivered to the Navy. These vessels are very stable, can carry ammunition, and have helipads as well. In addition to building a training vessel for the Navy which can carry over 200 cadets, we have also built many land crafts for the navy which have been equipped with three engines and can travel up to a speed of 16 knots, whereas most other land crafts can go up to only 10 to 12 knots. Although COVID-19 did slow down a lot of work initially, we stayed optimistic throughout that period and kept working towards our progress, which has resulted in our survival and growth.