The UAE has consolidated its leading position among the best maritime centres in the world. It has become one of the influential countries in developing the maritime industry. The UAE’s practices, decisions and legislations have contributed to developing the sector and enhancing maritime safety standards, as well as protecting the marine environment globally.
In 2017, the UAE was elected to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council under category B and was re-elected in 2019. The UAE is seeking re-election for the third consecutive time. Election will take place from 6 to 15 December 2021 in London. The UAE aims to continue its active role in strengthening maritime legislation and regulations to serve the shipping sector and international trade.
Commenting on the UAE’s role in the International Maritime Organization, H.E. Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said, “The UAE is one of the key maritime countries worldwide and has achieved many records in global competitiveness indicators in the maritime sector. It was ranked 3rd globally in transport services trade and in Bunker Supply Index. It ranked fifth globally as a key competitive maritime hub. The UAE’’s ports rank among the top 10 internationally in the volume of container handling. The UAE ports handled over 15 million TEUs during 2020, while there were over 25,000 port calls in the UAE during 2020.”
His Excellency added, "Through the UAE membership in the IMO Council, we continue to work with member states to advance the global maritime sector and the shipping industry through a collective contribution to the IMO’s mission of achieving the safety, security and efficiency of maritime transport in clean oceans. The UAE has played an active role during the previous and current cycles, and succeeded in introducing fundamental amendments to many decisions that contribute to the development and improvement of the work system to keep pace with global changes and modern technologies, taking into account the importance of easing the burdens on ship owners and maritime companies, in addition to the role of those decisions in unifying efforts from for the safety, security and protection of the marine environment worldwide.”
H.E. Hassan Mohamed Juma Al-Mansoori, Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport Sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said, "The UAE’s seaborne trade and transhipment efforts cater to about two billion populations from China, India, and the Gulf States to Eurasia and all the way to Eastern Europe. The UAE is committed to uphold its responsibility towards participating in establishing a sustainable platform for sharing Know-how knowledge among maritime nations and administrations on best practices, and adding value to the technical and legal discussions held at the IMO, by contributing with proposals aimed at enhancing regulations for safety and security as well as preserving the marine environment.”
Al-Mansoori said that the UAE’s commitment to an inclusive approach as a major flag State, port State and coastal State, has enabled it to address wider maritime issues in a comprehensive, well-balanced, and integrated manner to contribute to the international maritime community within IMO framework.
Boosting the global economy
Sheikh Nasser Al-Qasimi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport Sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said, "The UAE plays a competitive role in the global seaborne trade, which contributes to strengthening the global economy. There are more than 27,000 maritime companies in the UAE and the country's ports rank among the top worldwide. The capabilities of our ports and maritime facilities exceed international standards. The UAE’s strategic location has contributed to being a leading hub for maritime trade in the Arabian Gulf states, East Africa and the Indian subcontinent.”
Al Qasimi added: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, all ports in the UAE were kept open to facilitate maritime trade and keep the maritime supply chains functioning in order to ensure delivering vital goods and supplies. The UAE was one of the first IMO Member States to designate seafarers as key workers since they are on the front line of the pandemic, and provide major services in such circumstances. It also supported seafarers working on board ships and continued to facilitate safe ship crew change, access to medical care and seafarer travel during the pandemic. In addition, free Covid-19 vaccines were offered to all key workers including seafarers and ports employees who work in the UAE waters.”
Contributing to developing maritime standards
Mohammed Khamis Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative at the IMO, said, "Through its membership in the International Maritime Organization, the UAE seeks to continue contributing to developing strategies, policies, agreements and setting standards regulating the maritime sector. The UAE is very active contributor to the IMO activities through its positive and effective engagement and participation in all the works of the Assembly, Council, main technical committees, sub-committees, and related working groups. In coordination with IMO Technical Cooperation division, the UAE hosted several regional workshops and other capacity-building activities to assist IMO to deliver capabilities in implementing international maritime regulations and standards. In cooperation with Member States of IMO, UAE has participated in proposal to develop the best approach of regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) under the Maritime Safety Committee and Legal Committee. The UAE is continuously participating in the amendment cycle of the SOLAS, MARPOL and the International Maritime Traffic Facilitation Agreement and other codes such as the International Maritime Code of Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code to ensure the safety of shipping.”
Al Kaabi added, “The UAE has recently contributed to a number of amendments such as amending the IMO agreement by submitting a proposal to increase the members of the organization’s council to consist of 52 members instead of 40 members, to be included under three categories: Category A and Category B, which include 12 members each and Category C, which includes 28 members, in addition to the proposal to increase the term of office of the Council to 4 years. The UAE has also contributed in the work of Legal Committee by submitting a decision to develop new measures to prevent unlawful practices associated with the fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries of ships. It also contributed to the work of the Technical Cooperation Committee by preparing a draft decision related to funding and partnership arrangements for an effective and sustainable integrated technical cooperation programme. All these decisions will be adopted at the next meeting of the Assembly.”
H.E. Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs, UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said, “The UAE is one of the countries in supporting and empowering women in all fields, especially the maritime sector. It contributed in drafting the IMO Assembly Resolution A.1147 (31) “Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and Achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector” which was adopted at the thirty-first session of IMO Assembly in 2019. The UAE is also one of the founders of the International Maritime Organization Communication Network for Gender Equality (IMOGENder), which is a forum for delegates of member states and observer delegations to the International Maritime Organization to work in a coordinated manner to exchange information and exchange ideas and best practices aimed at achieving gender equality and enhancing the participation of women in the maritime sector. The UAE currently holds the presidency of the Arab Women in Maritime Association (AWIMA), in cooperation with the IMO Technical Cooperation Programme, in supporting women in the maritime sector to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly the fifth goal in achieving gender equality and empowering women.”
Protecting the marine environment
The UAE has contributed in works to prepare and implement the IMO initial strategy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships and will continue its support towards the development of follow-up actions plan and the fourth IMO-GHG study. The UAE contributed significantly to protecting the marine environment and helping the shipping sector to the IMO legislation to reduce sulphur oxide emissions by providing new, low-sulphur fuels at an affordable price. In addition, the UAE has aligned its National Maritime Strategy with the IMO Strategic Plan for the six-year period 2018-2023.
Enhance Maritime safety and security
The UAE is a founder member of the Riyadh Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to achieve safe, secure and efficient shipping in the maritime jurisdictions in the Arabia Gulf region and to unified system of port state control measures and to intensify cooperation and information exchange on issues concerning Port State Control.
Since the implementation of ISPS Code in 2004, the UAE has expanded the enhancement of navigation safety and security within UAE waters by introducing further safety and security requirements. Such requirements include fitting identification devices to all fishing boats, power-driven pleasure craft. Additional requirements were extended to include all fishing harbours, leisure craft marinas, and ports which are receiving non-SOLAS vessels to ensure maritime safety and security.
Supporting maritime education locally and globally
The UAE contributed to the IMO’s efforts to the establish the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden, since its inception in 1983, through its active membership in the Board of Governors and Executive Committee, between 1983 and 1991. In addition to this, UAE has also taken part in many national and international forums aimed at conveying and exchanging experiences in maritime education and training. The UAE established a branch in Sharjah for the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, an affiliate of the Arab League. It also established Abu Dhabi Maritime Academy in Abu Dhabi.