The UAE Energy Ministry, which announced the scheme on June 25, said it would enhance the quality of life of seafarers and help them overcome challenges caused by the pandemic and travel restrictions.
The ministry claims that the UAE receives the largest number of vessels heading to the Gulf, at over 21,000 ships each year. More than 27,000 local and international maritime companies work in the UAE, with more than 17 million containers handled at its ports annually, state news agency WAM said.
“These achievements would not have been possible without the dedication of thousands of seafarers who arrive in UAE waters on ships from all over the world,” it said.
Among goals of the programme are provision of medical care, maritime education, and training, to build professional capabilities. Identifying and removing physical and social obstacles through effective co-operation between the public and private sectors are also key.
The UAE claims to have been one of the first member states in the International Maritime Organisation to classify seafarers as priority workers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing them with support by facilitating safe crew change and safely sending them to their home countries, as well as providing medical treatment and COVID-19 vaccines, the ministry said.
“We introduce initiatives and laws that can develop the sector based on best practices, while taking care of the seafarer community, a key pillar of the industry, to help them overcome the challenges they face while performing their work,” Eng. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said at a ceremony to mark the launch of the initiative.
“Launching the ‘Salmeen’ initiative in conjunction with the Day of the Seafarer confirms our support for seafarers and reflects our firm belief in the active role they play in strengthening the role of the UAE as a global maritime hub.”
Officials at Hamad Port in Qatar also took care to acknowledge the role played by mariners around the world. “On International Seafarers' Day, we salute all seafarers in Qatar and around the world for the vital role they play in international seaborne trade, and their efforts to keep supply chains running and the world's trade flowing,” it said in a June 25 post on social media to mark the occasion.