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Cooperation and collaboration – the talk of the UAE maritime sector

Digitalisation and innovation continue to be the favoured buzzwords in Dubai in 2018 as the emirate pushes forward with its smart city initiative, and this month saw Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) launch a digital payment and services portal.

The authority hopes to reduce the number of visits to its customer service centres by 80% by the end of the year through using electronic platforms to process transactions and queries more speedily and efficiently. The new gateway allows users to track application statuses, verify crew and craft licence validity, as well as dealing with penalty objections and payments, among other services.

“Our aim is to provide the best marine services and develop them on the basis of strong pillars of innovation and intelligent transformation,” said Mahmoud Oweida, director of information technology at DMCA. “We are simplifying, accelerating, and facilitating government services to bring happiness, ensure community welfare, and support efforts to build a smart and fully connected city with a sustainable capacity to keep pace with future growth.”

The digital payment and services portal is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by DMCA to deliver smart marine services and foster knowledge-sharing and innovation in the sector. Other launches in the past year have included the Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster, the Maritime Innovation Lab and Innovation Quay.

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The authority, which was established in 2007 to regulate, coordinate and supervise all aspects of Dubai’s maritime sector, is spearheading the emirate’s efforts to become one of the world’s leading maritime hubs by 2021.

According to DMCA, Dubai currently hosts more than 5,500 maritime companies and 13,000 maritime activities, which in turn support more than 76,000 jobs. The industry contributes about 7% of Dubai’s gross domestic product, equivalent to AED26.9bn ($7.3bn).

Dubai's ambitions

Dubai’s ambitions for the maritime sector received a major boost in December, when the UAE became the first Arab country to be elected to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 40-member council, under Category B, which pertains to states with the largest interest in international seaborne trade.

In a statement following a workshop on The Future of The Maritime Sector in Dubai in April, Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi, the UAE’s Minister of Infrastructure Development and chairman of the Federal Transport Authority (FTA) - Land and Maritime, said there needed to be a “more concerted effort at both the federal and local levels, and from public and private sectors to best represent the UAE in this important international forum and to create a maritime sector that reflects the country’s reputation and global leadership.”

The workshop was attended by representatives of Dubai Ports World, Drydocks World, Dubai Customs and Dubai Maritime City, as well as DMCA.

Amer Ali, executive director of DMCA, stated: “We are keen to build a knowledge and expertise network with our strategic partners from both public and private sectors in the UAE, including the FTA, in line with our common objectives to reinforce a solid foundation for the safety and competitiveness of the local maritime cluster in the global arena.”

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