As one of the world’s leading maritime hubs, the UAE has gained added status by being appointed as the first Middle East member of the 40-member IMO Council.

While the UAE’s maritime activities are primarily focused on commercial shipping, ship repairing and cruising, yachts and superyachts are a key and growing part of the marine industry mix in the country. Reflecting the superyacht market, it has been announced that the second edition of the Dubai International Superyacht Summit will be held from February 27-28, 2019.

A key element of the UAE’s growing maritime significance was the formation in 2007 of the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA). The DMCA was established to regulate, coordinate and supervise all aspects of the maritime sector in that emirate, and this brought both greater responsibility and opportunity.

Now at a time of growing regional competition, the DMCA is focusing its efforts on streamlining processes to make Dubai an investment-friendly and attractive environment for maritime companies from all over the world and the number one choice for companies looking to base themselves in the region.

“We aim to provide the best marine services and develop them on the basis of innovation and intelligent transformation,” says Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of DMCA. “We are simplifying, accelerating, and facilitating government services.”

Earlier in 2018, DMCA rolled out a new digital payment and services portal, which it hopes will enable it to process transactions and queries more speedily and efficiently, and reduce the number of visits to its customer service centres by 80% by the end of the year. The gateway allows users to track application statuses, verify crew and craft licence validity, as well as deal with penalty objections and payments, among other services.

DMCA’s other main role is building and supporting a vibrant maritime community in Dubai. 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 authority regularly hosts workshops and training programmes and collaborative meetings between the private sector and key government bodies involved in the maritime industry.

As part of initiatives to increase knowledge-sharing and innovation in the sector, over the past year it has launched the Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster, the Maritime Innovation Lab and Innovation Quay.

“We have launched initiatives designed to improve the local maritime infrastructure, enacted new key regulations, adopted the best international practices, and forged important local, regional, and global partnerships,” says Bin Sulayem.

In terms of the yacht market Dubai, as just one of the seven UAE emirates, is expanding at a fast rate. Currently there are well over 2,500 new marina berths planned or under construction and the Dubai Canal, opened earlier this year, is a new leisure destination for which yachts can be used as a means of transport between marinas close to shopping malls or restaurants.