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08 Jul 2018

Salwa Canal Arab quartet’s face off with Qatar

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"The waterway, which will turn a peninsula into an island, will become a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia Few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was going ahead with its newest project, this time on the Arabian Gulf side. The Saudis aim to dig a massive water canal on their eastern border with Qatar, one kilometre from the official Saudi-Qatari border inside the kingdom. The canal is planned to be 60 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and up to 20 metres in depth. This 2.8 billion Saudi riyal (Dh2.74 billion) canal aims to bring two major effects to Saudi Arabia — political and economic. This seems to be a mini copy of the Suez Canal of Egypt that today brings in huge transit revenues to Egypt. Currently, the UAE has not announced any participation in developing the proposed Salwa Water Canal. But personally, I don’t rule out a possibility of participation by UAE-based developers in building the canal, especially given the experience of successfully launching and developing the Dubai Water Canal that was completed in record time. Economically, the canal is expected to bring in a considerable portion of sea trade and water tourism on the eastern shorelines of a fast-changing Saudi Arabia. The canal will house private beach villas, luxurious yacht piers, five-star hotels and resorts, sea ports on both banks, marina bays and other tourist attractions. The project will add thousands of jobs and act as a catalyst to Saudi economy. Water inflow will also help to create man-made coral reefs that will directly enhance tourism, under-water sports and maritime environment in that region. The canal will also serve as a direct and a shorter shipping line access between main UAE sea ports, Dammam and Bahrain, all the way to Kuwait and Basra — avoiding the sensitive sea route that cuts between Qatar and Iran. This in turn will translate into less fuel, less travel time and, more importantly, a safer sea route from the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Politically, this is a massive setback for Qatar and its regime that is already struggling to cope with the aftermath of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) boycott. The canal physically and geographically isolates and cuts off Qatar from the rest of the mainland and GCC, turning Qatar from a peninsula to a little island. This will also seal Qatar’s only land border. Deep trenches are traditionally dug and used against enemy lines in war-like situations, and they have proved to be extremely effective and beneficial. I am not saying we are at war with Qatar yet. But, it seems all options are on the table with this canal coming into play in about 12 months. Let’s also not forget that Iranian and Turkish Forces are openly roaming around in Qatar, a move that has not been welcomed by Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis. The canal is like someone walking in from your front-yard and digging a massive cross-sectional trench that you cannot jump and cross. So you are stranded in your own house, which is on an island. It means cutting you off from the rest of your neighbourhood. To add to Qatari woes, Saudi Arabia has planned to establish an active military base in a hazardous nuclear waste dumping site on the Qatari side of the canal — which is still a Saudi territory. Salwa Canal is a very smart, strong, crisp but silent message of the anti-terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to Qatar: That it needs to behave and stop harbouring terror and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Else, there are plenty of options available that Doha would not even have imagined before. The canal is a win-win for Saudi Arabia. In case Qatar’s regime gives up and agrees to all the conditions laid down by the anti-terror quarter, even then the canal will serve as a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if Qatar prefers to maintain status-quo and the rift continues to grow between, the canal will act as a first line of defence for the Saudis, as it locks Qatar on an island. Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in a Tweet that Salwa Water Canal is an open proof of Qatar’s failure in managing and resolving diplomatic crisis. It is fair to say Qatar has lost its Salwa border-crossing. Hence Salwa “Maaku”. In other words — Salwa, no more Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News Few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was going ahead with its newest project, this time on the Arabian Gulf side. The Saudis aim to dig a massive water canal on their eastern border with Qatar, one kilometre from the official Saudi-Qatari border inside the kingdom. The canal is planned to be 60 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and up to 20 metres in depth. This 2.8 billion Saudi riyal (Dh2.74 billion) canal aims to bring two major effects to Saudi Arabia — political and economic. Saudi Arabia moves ahead with Salwa canal plan Saudi waterway to turn Qatar into island This seems to be a mini copy of the Suez Canal of Egypt that today brings in huge transit revenues to Egypt. Currently, the UAE has not announced any participation in developing the proposed Salwa Water Canal. But personally, I don’t rule out a possibility of participation by UAE-based developers in building the canal, especially given the experience of successfully launching and developing the Dubai Water Canal that was completed in record time. Economically, the canal is expected to bring in a considerable portion of sea trade and water tourism on the eastern shorelines of a fast-changing Saudi Arabia. The canal will house private beach villas, luxurious yacht piers, five-star hotels and resorts, sea ports on both banks, marina bays and other tourist attractions. The project will add thousands of jobs and act as a catalyst to Saudi economy. Water inflow will also help to create man-made coral reefs that will directly enhance tourism, under-water sports and maritime environment in that region. The canal will also serve as a direct and a shorter shipping line access between main UAE sea ports, Dammam and Bahrain, all the way to Kuwait and Basra — avoiding the sensitive sea route that cuts between Qatar and Iran. This in turn will translate into less fuel, less travel time and, more importantly, a safer sea route from the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Politically, this is a massive setback for Qatar and its regime that is already struggling to cope with the aftermath of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) boycott. The canal physically and geographically isolates and cuts off Qatar from the rest of the mainland and GCC, turning Qatar from a peninsula to a little island. This will also seal Qatar’s only land border. Deep trenches are traditionally dug and used against enemy lines in war-like situations, and they have proved to be extremely effective and beneficial. I am not saying we are at war with Qatar yet. But, it seems all options are on the table with this canal coming into play in about 12 months. Let’s also not forget that Iranian and Turkish Forces are openly roaming around in Qatar, a move that has not been welcomed by Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis. The canal is like someone walking in from your front-yard and digging a massive cross-sectional trench that you cannot jump and cross. So you are stranded in your own house, which is on an island. It means cutting you off from the rest of your neighbourhood. To add to Qatari woes, Saudi Arabia has planned to establish an active military base in a hazardous nuclear waste dumping site on the Qatari side of the canal — which is still a Saudi territory. Salwa Canal is a very smart, strong, crisp but silent message of the anti-terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to Qatar: That it needs to behave and stop harbouring terror and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Else, there are plenty of options available that Doha would not even have imagined before. The canal is a win-win for Saudi Arabia. In case Qatar’s regime gives up and agrees to all the conditions laid down by the anti-terror quarter, even then the canal will serve as a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if Qatar prefers to maintain status-quo and the rift continues to grow between, the canal will act as a first line of defence for the Saudis, as it locks Qatar on an island. Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in a Tweet that Salwa Water Canal is an open proof of Qatar’s failure in managing and resolving diplomatic crisis. It is fair to say Qatar has lost its Salwa border-crossing. Hence Salwa “Maaku”. In other words — Salwa, no more "

02 Jul 2018

India seeks ways to continue Iran oil imports

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"India hopes to avoid an abrupt end to oil imports from Iran without triggering sanctions even as it readies a rupee payment mechanism for oil imports from the Islamic Republic. The US and India haven’t had any conversation yet on possible exemption but officials believe that the door for negotiations is still open despite strong words from the US recently to eliminate oil import from Iran. Officials see a window of opportunity because a recent update in the US treasury’s website lists circumstances in which the US government can waive sanctions. The tough words from the US are certainly aimed at the better compliance of sanctions by all countries as well as at making it harder for importing countries to negotiate waivers, an official said. The US is probably trying to lower importing countries’ expectations before any negotiation on waivers start, he said. It has been learnt that Nikki Haley, the US envoy to UN and close Trump aide, during her recent visit to Delhi called for cutting import of Iranian oil, but was politely told that it would be extremely difficult for India to make any significant cut. Ties between India and Iran range from the energy trade to connectivity projects, and cutting trade between the two count .. Indian and US officials are likely to meet this month to figure out the implications of the Iran sanctions for India. There are some hints from the US of possible exemptions to purchase a reduced quantity of oil from Iran, officials said. On June 26, a US state department official said India or China would receive no waiver of sanctions and their companies risk secondary sanctions if they continued importing oil from Iran from November 4. But just the next day, on June 27, the US Treasury Department updated its FAQs on Iran sanctions, leaving scope for the waiver, an Indian official said, citing this as a sign that the US would be amenable to discussing exemptions. The FAQs refer to a provision for waiver of the sanctions if the secretary of the treasury determines that a waiver is necessary to the national interest of the United States. The document also provides for the secretary of state, in consultation with other secretaries, determining if any country has ‘significantly reduced the volume of Iranian crude oil purchase’. The secretary of state would ‘consider relevant evidence in assessing each country’s efforts to reduce the volume of crude oil imported from Iran’. For Indian officials, these words represent US flexibility in dealing with certain importers like India if the latter were to make efforts towards reducing supplies from Iran over a period of time. RUPEE PAYMENT MECHANISM Meanwhile, India is preparing a rupee payment mechanism for Iranian oil import. “We are coordinating with the central banks of India and Iran to put together this mechanism. More than one Indian banks are available for this,” an official said. During the last sanctions, UCO Bank alone handled rupee payment for oil imports from Iran. Part of the rupee payment was used by Iran for purchasing food, drugs and chemicals from India but most of it was transferred to the Islamic Republic after the sanctions were lifted in 2016. It wasn’t clear if India would persist with imports from Iran if the US waivers didn’t materialise. During the last Iran sanctions, US had allowed India to import certain quantity for which the payments were made in the rupee. Officials didn’t say if the companies will be able to, or want to, use the rupee payment mechanism without the waiver because that could mean antagonising the US. "

24 Jun 2018

Egypt monitoring battle for Hodeidah amid Red Sea concerns

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"Egypt’s interest in developments in Hodeidah lies in its reliance on trade through the Red Sea, via the Suez Canal. Efforts to liberate the western Yemeni port city of Hodeidah from control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia are being closely watched in Egypt, with the expectation that international maritime movement in the area will undergo a huge boom after the city’s liberation. “The Houthis have been posing a threat to the international maritime movement in the southern part of the Red Sea since they took control of the city,” said Akram Badreddine, a political science professor at Cairo University. “This is very dangerous, which is why there is an urgent need for support to ongoing efforts for the liberation of the city and its port from Houthi control.” Troops affiliated with the internationally recognised Yemeni government have been carrying out all-out offensive to regain control of Hodeidah from the Houthis, scoring major successes, including liberating the Hodeidah airport. The Houthis have become a major security threat to Saudi Arabia since they overran most of Yemen in 2014. Most of southern Saudi Arabia is within range of the Houthis ballistic missiles, which Riyadh alleges are being provided to the Houthis by Iran and smuggled in via the port of Hodeidah. The Houthis have used the port to threaten navigation in the Red Sea, including damaging a UAE naval vessel. That was not the first Houthi attack on vessels in the region. The Shia militia reportedly intercepted a UN vessel on June 4 that was being used by the World Food Programme to deliver humanitarian aid to the port. In January, the Saudi-led coalition warned that the Houthis were trying to use so-called “boat bombs” — remote-controlled vessels loaded with explosives — against shipping in the Red Sea. Egypt’s interest in developments in Hodeidah lies in its reliance on trade through the Red Sea, via the Suez Canal. Although Egypt has not officially commented on the dangers posed to Red Sea navigation by the Houthis, Cairo has demonstrated that it is acutely aware of possible perils and has contributed naval units to the Arab coalition. In January 2017, Egypt opened a major naval base near the southern entrance to the Red Sea, apparently to be prepared for threats from the Yemeni coast. “Egypt cannot stay silent while all these dangers are looming and in close proximity to its Red Sea coast,” said political analyst Abdel Monem Halawa. Egypt’s concerns are based on a commitment to secure navigation in the Red Sea and to the Suez Canal. In 2014, Egypt spent billions of dollars revamping the canal with a parallel channel allowing for two-way traffic through the canal. Revenues from the Suez Canal are up — thanks to two-way shipping. There is a belief they would rise even higher once the situation in the southern Red Sea is secured. Egypt is also preparing to explore oil and gas off its Red Sea coast, with seismic studies by an international coalition to investigate whether there are oil and gas reserves in the area. “The protection of the Red Sea, from north to south, is a basic pillar of Egypt’s defence strategy,” Halawa said. “This is why any threats to this area are taken very seriously by Cairo.” Freeing the strategic Hodeidah port from Houthi control would secure Red Sea waters and deal a major blow to the Houthis, who rely on the port to receive supplies. “The port is the main point of contact between Tehran and the Houthis,” Badreddine said. “By controlling it, the Arab coalition will put an end to the delivery of Iranian arms to the Shia militia and consequently make the Arab Gulf and the Red Sea more secure.” "

02 Jun 2018

UAE Signs Partnership Deal With Russia for Oil Markets Stability

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"Russia and OPEC stepped in to cut production in 2014 when prices crashed Since then there has been a steady rise in prices back to levels seen then They are now signalling an increase in production in a bid to rein in more rises OPEC member Abu Dhabi and Russia signed deal to 'ensure balance' in market By Tariq Tahir For Mailonline and Afp Russia and Abu Dhabi have signed a deal to stabilise energy markets amid as oil prices continue to rise. The OPEC cartel of oil producers - including the United Arab Emirates - and Russia reached an unprecedented deal at end of 2016 deal to cut production following a glut that had sent prices crashing and the crude sector into disarray. Since then OPEC and Russia have worked closely to maintain the price of oil but also to prevent prices rising, which would hurt consumers and encourage rivals to step up their production. The latest deal, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, calls for both countries to maintain contacts 'to ensure balance and stability on the world hydrocarbon market, taking into account the interests of producers and consumers'. Last month Russia and Saudi Arabia said they believe a deal is possible to gradually boost oil output from as soon as July as world oil prices begin to rise to 2014 levels. Abu Dhabi, one of seven states in the United Arab Emirates, holds more than 90 percent of the federation's 98 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. The UAE is OPEC's fourth largest crude oil producer. Putin recently said Moscow would be satisfied with the price of crude oil dropping to $60 per barrel. 'Our joint efforts, including our friends from Saudi Arabia and from the whole of the OPEC organisation, bring good results to stabilise the hydrocarbons market,' Putin said in a statement posted on the government website. 'I think our cooperation will increase, including with the signing of the declaration on a strategic partnership,' the crown prince told Putin in translated comments. He said that he expected the volume of trade between the countries 'to continue to strengthen exponentially.' "

11 May 2018

Carriers reviewing operations in Iran

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"US sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes are requiring carriers to review their services, operations and business relationships with Iran. Shipping lines serving Iran have a six-month window to leave or cease their operations in the country, following the announcement that the US is withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which in 2015 agreed to lift economic sanctions on Iran in return for the country ending its nuclear weapons programme. Some containers lines have already stopped taking bookings for certain cargoes that would be impacted by the sanctions program. Iran relies on seaborne trade for both imports as well as for sales of its goods apart from oil and the country had struggled with logistical difficulties before international sanctions were lifted in 2016. Iran’s port operators and shipping sectors, including top cargo operator the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and oil tanker group NITC, will once again be blacklisted on Nov. 4. The US will separately re-impose sanctions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance, which had been another challenge for Iran in the past. The world’s top two container shipping groups Maersk Line and MSC are reviewing their Iran operations after the United States withdrawal from the international nuclear agreement with Tehran. The 2015 agreement, worked out by the United States, five other world powers and Iran, lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits to its nuclear programme. U.S. President Donald Trump also instructed his administration to re-impose U.S. sanctions after a winding down period. “MSC is reviewing its services, operations and business relationships to understand if any are impacted and will comply with the timetable set out by the U.S. government,” the private Swiss-headquartered group said in a statement on Friday. MSC suspended services between 2012 and 2014 and when they were resumed the line used small, regional third-party feeder ships to carry cargo between Iran and MSC’s transshipment hub at Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. A shipping source said MSC had already stopped taking bookings for certain cargoes that would be impacted by the sanctions programme. The U.S. Treasury said this week Washington was imposing sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminium and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes. Denmark’s Maersk Line said separately it had ceased acceptance of the specific cargoes listed by the U.S. Treasury this week. “Our presence in Iran is limited. We will monitor the developments to assess any impact on our activities,” Maersk Line added. Iran relies on seaborne trade for both imports as well as for sales of its goods apart from oil and the country had struggled with logistical difficulties before international sanctions were lifted in 2016. Iran’s port operators and shipping sectors, including top cargo operator the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and oil tanker group NITC, will once again be blacklisted on Nov. 4 by Washington. The U.S. will separately re-impose sanctions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance, which had been another challenge for Iran in the past. Every ship requires various insurance cover to allow for journeys at sea. “The decision is expected to have significant implications for maritime trade with Iran and the insurance of such trade,” said Nigel Carden, deputy chairman for Thomas Miller, the manager of ship insurer UK P&I Club. Carden said a full assessment would only be possible once there was more clarity, and urged caution before entering into any new Iran related cargo bookings. Lloyd’s of London said it was “currently reviewing the “implications for the Lloyd’s (insurance) market”. Europe’s heavyweight economies took steps on Friday to safeguard their commercial and political interests in Iran."

11 May 2018

Jeddah workshop aims to ensure safe and secure regional waters

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"Signatory States to an agreement aimed at repressing piracy, armed robbery and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area have agreed that building response capability and information sharing are vital steps towards achieving a more safe and secure maritime environment. The signatories to the revised Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area, known as the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017, were meeting In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a high level workshop (7-10 May) for all signatory States and States eligible to sign the Jeddah Amendment, donors and implementing partners The workshop, convened by IMO with the theme of “Taking action to enhance regional maritime security”, discussed the next steps in implementing the Djibouti Code of Conduct and its 2017 Jeddah Amendments, in order to strengthen regional cooperation and information sharing to ensure safe and secure regional waters. Information sharing could include data related to maritime crimes, best practices, legal frameworks, training programmes and national initiatives that will lead to enhanced maritime domain awareness - the effective understanding of what happens at sea and effective maritime security. The participants agreed that piracy off the coast of Somalia is contained, but continues to be a threat. A long term comprehensive solution is required that also addresses other maritime security issues. These could include transnational organised crimes, including smuggling of people, trafficking of drugs, weapons, wildlife, and charcoal, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, violent extremism and maritime terrorism, including the risk of attacks against oil and gas installations and transport systems, They also emphasized the need to consider good maritime security as a prerequisite for a well-developed maritime sector in the region and for a thriving blue economy within the context of sustainable development goals. The participants re-emphasised their commitment to developing capability, legal frameworks and inter-agency cooperation at national level as the foundation for effective regional cooperation in tackling maritime insecurity. This will allow countries to develop and strengthen the opportunities provided by the blue economy for the well-being of their respective population. Following a range of presentations, participants and observer delegations witnessed a large-scale exercise and demonstration by the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which included a number of maritime focussed scenarios. Briefings by all participants on national achievements, plans and provided an opportunity for experience sharing and lessons learned, to enhance alignment of national plans with regional plans and to facilitate requests for external assistance from development partners. The Participants and observer delegations also benefitted from a visit to the state-of-the-art Jeddah Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and received a demonstration of the MRCCs capability. Participants and observer delegations also had the opportunity to visit the excellent training facilities and instructors at the Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies which have facilitated the provision of high quality training to maritime security practitioners throughout the region. The workshop, held at the Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies in Jeddah, was hosted by the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by kind permission of HRH Prince AbdulAziz bin Saud bin Naif bin AbdulAziz, Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was opened by Vice Admiral Awwad Eid Al-Balawi, Director General of the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Chris Trelawny, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of IMO. The high-level meeting was attended by representatives from: Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen. Observers attended from: Denmark, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom and United States. Representatives also attended from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union, the Indian Ocean Commission, the International Criminal Police Organisation - INTERPOL, the East Africa Standby Force and the One Earth Future Foundation. The workshop participants welcomed the capacity building work of international organisations, including IMO, INTERPOL, and the UNODC, as well as non-governmental organizations, including the One Earth Future Foundation’s Stable Seas project and the SafeSeas initiative led by Cardiff University. Donors were thanked, in particular Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their contributions to the Djibouti Code of Conduct Trust Fund administered by IMO. Further donations were requested to support the implementation of the Code, including assistance to the Djibouti Regional Training Centre. "

07 May 2018

UAE's maritime industry seeking VAT exemption

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"The UAE Cabinet last week announced exemption for the gold and precious metals trade from VAT. The UAE maritime industry is seeking exemption from the value-added tax levied earlier this year in line with global practices as many countries have relieved the industry from VAT, industry executives said. They believe that the UAE needs to look at the fees and other charges in order to become more competitive and also needs to update its maritime law. ""It is important to think about the regulations especially the VAT because many countries around the world have exempted the shipping industry from VAT and it is important. There is discussion with the government and we hope this will be taken positively. I guess we have to apply what applies anywhere else; and the principal is that the shipping industry is usually kept free from VAT,"" said Khamis Juma Buamim, managing director and group CEO, Gulf Navigation Holding. The UAE Cabinet last week announced exemption for the gold and precious metals trade from VAT to revive the industry. ""In general, there are too many fees and charges and too many time-wasting [requirements to obtain services]. Time means money and people seriously think about how much time they spend [on obtaining these services],"" he added. Buamim pointed out that the UAE also needs a new holistic investment-driven maritime law. ""Once you have that new law, then you are on the right track because other countries are changing their laws and investment strategies. The UAE law is very old and it needs to be updated and it is important."" Buamim was speaking on the sidelines of the UAE Maritime Leaders Roundtable Discussion held in Dubai on Sunday to discuss the status of the UAE maritime industry and the main obstacles facing existing investors. Buamim noted that the UAE's ability to attract major ship owners requires careful consideration of the key aspects that these players are looking for in a host country, which is a combination of ease of doing business, favourable and predictable policy framework, availability of maritime technology and levels of openness and information sharing. Kapil Mehta, head of trade and marketing for the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Iran at Maersk Line, said any trading hub has to make sure that the cost of doing business is kept to a bare minimum. ""The cost of doing business in the UAE is showing up in various shapes and forms and VAT is one of them. Land cost, warehousing and fee for getting people in such as visa fee is adding to the costs and that is something that impacts the trading business negatively. The UAE needs to take notice of the fact that they are becoming increasingly expensive to be in and to work with and they need to do something about changing it,"" Mehta said. He pointed out that the UAE maritime industry needs to refocus itself because the routes of the UAE started with the main trading business for the region and now it has gone more towards real estate and energy-related businesses. Hence, a lot of conventional trading business has taken sidestep and that has also created a way for other countries to capitalise on this and the business is moving away. ""It would benefit the UAE a lot in terms of diversifying away from the huge reliance on real estate and energy into a regional trading hub that it can emerge into,"" he said. Tarek Saad, partner, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, stated that they are actively working with all parties, governments and private sector in order to develop a new maritime law in the UAE that will have a significant impact on enhancing investments in the maritime sector. Hessa Al Malek, CEO of Maritime Transport at Federal Transport Authority (FTA), said: ""We will prioritise all the major challenges that were addressed from the main maritime key players as we are keen to strengthen the joint efforts between both government and private sectors to achieve a common vision to boost the UAE's leadership in the maritime sector."" She said the UAE has maintained its leading position among the most attractive maritime business environment, in addition to climbing to sixth place in 2017 from seventh in 2015 on the list of the future leading maritime capitals. ""Moreover, the UAE placed 12th in 2017 from 13th in 2015 on the list of maritime finance and law services and progressed from 15th to 14th place in terms of maritime technology. These achievements demonstrate the UAE's global competitiveness and progress towards the government's ambitious vision of transforming the UAE into the world's top maritime centres,"" she said."

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