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Unified maritime legislation should be in place

The absence of a unified maritime legislation in the UAE will lead to a loss of investments, a top maritime official said.

“There are neither unified legislations nor a dedicated authority that are formulated to protect the investments in the maritime industries across the UAE,” said Khamis Juma Bu Amim, Chariman and Group CEO of DryDocks World and Maritime World, adding that investors have left the UAE to other markets because of the potential risk of investment.

He said last year one of the big international companies decided to move an investment worth $35 million to India, citing the lack of protective laws.

Bu Amim, who is also the Chairman of Dubai Council for Marine and Maritime Industries, spoke on the sideline of the first edition of Mare Forum Dubai 2014. The forum is discussing the growing importance of maritime industry in the region and worldwide.

He added that the total value of potential investments in the Middle East is estimated at $300 billion (Dh1.1 trillion) in the next coming year. He said the UAE will have a bigger stake of the market if these laws are in place, Bu Amim said. “UAE has the potential to attract investments worth between $175-190 billion in the next three years if they worked hard to upgrade the maritime legal infrastructure,” he said.

Currently the UAE controls 60 per of the maritime industries in the region. Dubai itself control 30 per cent. “Following the oil and gas sector, maritime industries is the second largest contributor in the country’s gross domestic product [GDP] and has a drastic potential to grow further once this sector is supported by a strong legal infrastructure,” Bu Amim said.

Last year, UAE authority found a classification body, Tasneef, to give UAE a strong push in the shipping and maritime industries law.

Tasneef is able to offer services to all shipping firms operating in the UAE and will allow the country to obtain membership in the international Association of Classification Societies. Tasneef has certified 50 vessel since its inception and will be able to extent its service to cover the UAE whole current fleet of 370 vessel in five years time.

“Tanseef will operate in the regional markets very soon. Also it will open three offices in Australia, Italy and Romania since UAE is building 18 vessels in these countries and need to have its official classification body available there,” Al Hebsi said.