Key industry experts call for competitive classification sector in the UAE


Governmental authorities, and significant industry decision makers, united to tackle existing industry challenges and discuss opportunities to bolster the country’s maritime landscape at the third annual “UAE Maritime Leaders Roundtable Discussion” in Dubai.

The roundtable, held under the patronage of the Federal Transport Authority for Land and Maritime, FTA, strategically followed the theme, 'Reinforcing a Competitive Classification Sector in the UAE: Challenges and Opportunities', in a bid to deliver industry advancing progress.

H.E Eng.Hessa Al Malek, Executive Director of Maritime Sector, FTA

The most frequent concern which seems to have repetitively surfaced is a lack of alignment in regards to the regulations which various classification societies urge compliance with, and the manner in which regulations are set up in today’s ever-changing maritime landscape. While we cannot address each and everyone of the individual concerns at once, we remain consistently active in tackling existing and potential objectives. Our meticulous strategy incorporates stringent KPIs and specific programs to enhance maritime knowledge, because with greater understanding, corresponding improvement will follow. Imperatively, we need to raise awareness in the community, and we have been working to effectively achieve this through specific means such as appointing the IMO Goodwill Ambassador. Moreover, we will continue finding ways to take maritime to the next level, and this roundtable was an excellent step in the right direction.

Ralph Becker, COO, Dubai Navigation

Globally, it would be highly beneficial to the industry if IACS was to examine situations like major incidents and then accordingly implement changes that apply to all equally. In essence, standards cannot vary from class to class, and topical industry shifts such as IMO2020 and ballast water must also be in favour of ship-owners from a practical standpoint. Also, with drones becoming smarter and digital twin implementation set to increase, classification societies should consider that technology is poised to deepen its integration within the maritime sector and this will cause significant shifts and disruption that need to be dealt with strategically.

Eng. Ibrahim Behairy, Managing Director MENA, Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WINGD)

With technology and digitalization causing regulations to unexpectedly arise and requiring existing rules to be restructured, this is burdensome for both ship-owners and classification societies. Thus, I believe this is one of the most important issues which need to be addressed so that solutions can be produced to deal with the situation at hand. We must be proactive as many changes are impending and ensuring that we are ready to digest these costs is essential. There will be no technological advancement to adapt to these new changes without some kind of substantial investment. This includes financial, as well as invest in human resources, so that people can effectively operate emerging technologies. There should be no compromise on cutting costs when it comes to safety and this must be clear to every ship-owner. Moreover, for the UAE to thrive, it needs a local classification society to represent the country within IACS. So, if the government can help in leading Tasneef to be apart of the IACS infrastructure, this will likely be of great benefit.

Andrea Di Bella, Director of Marine, Middle East & Turkey Area, RINA

Unfortunately, as it pertains to the Middle East, particular market dynamics and demands have made the current landscape of maritime a little more difficult to navigate in recent times. With labour costs terribly high, the shipping industry is under tremendous pressure to reduce general costs. These two factors are colliding and classification societies don’t have the same benefit here as they do in other locations. I think the FTA can support the classification sector in the country by ensuring higher standards for all class societies in equal technical terms.

Pawan Sahni, Business Development Director, Middle East and Africa, DNV GL

The UAE is an open environment for all classification societies to do business and we are highly appreciative of the FTA for this. As it pertains to DNV GL, we have monitored the rise of technology as a driving force for current and future industry success. It is both an opportunity and a challenge, considering that the ease of doing business is also paired with vulnerabilities such as cyber security. We are constantly coming up with new ways to benefit the industry including cutting client costs and reducing the hassle of multiple surveys, while also pushing to ensure modernized rules are put into place for the sake of our clients. With the FTA maintaining its excellent efforts of providing assistance to us, so that we can extend this benefit to our clients, the industry will achieve greater efficiency and experience added value.

Waleed Al Tamimi, General Manager, Emirates Classification Society (TASNEEF)

The challenge which remains is that Tasneef is the only member that is working in the UAE which is not a part of IACS. To work towards becoming a member of IACS, we are highly prioritizing building up our capabilities so that are credentials cannot be questioned. In this regards, we have administered a number of Emiratization programs so that the local workforce is adequately equipped with the know-how to deal with global market needs. We believe that the coming ten years will witness great change, with new regulations and technology emerging. This will make for a very challenging circumstance for growth, but a forward-thinking mindset, and unified objectives throughout the regional and international shipping industry will help in navigating this transformation.