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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."

30 Apr 2018

Mohammed bin Rashid attends launch of DP World Cargospeed

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"DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One partner to create new global company that provides hyperloop-enabled cargo systems Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended the launch of DP World Cargospeed, a new global company created through a partnership between global trade enabler DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One, to provide hyperloop-enabled cargo systems to support the fast, sustainable and efficient delivery of palletised cargo. The first initiative of its kind in the world, DP World Cargospeed will provide exceptional service for high-priority, on-demand goods, delivering freight at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “The UAE is keen to be a leading player in shaping the future of the world. Being a pioneer means taking bold decisions that open the way for adopting innovative solutions. We have big aspirations because we have unlimited mindsets and the confidence that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.” His Highness said that advanced technologies are at the centre of the UAE’s vision for development, which is driven by a deep understanding of the needs of the future. He underscored the importance of constantly exploring new technologies that can enhance efficiencies and processes while maintaining the highest levels of quality. His Highness hailed DP World’s contribution to world trade and its role in raising the UAE’s profile as a leader and pioneer in the trading sector. The launch event was attended by His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. DP World and the US-based Virgin Hyperloop One introduced their vision for the future of on-demand freight transportation enabled by DP World Cargospeed at an event hosted by Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO, and Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman, at the historic vessel Queen Elizabeth 2. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said: “Throughout history, cargo has always been the catalyst for transport revolutions. With a bold vision for the future, Dubai has always pushed the boundaries of innovation. This spirit of innovation has enabled us to become a world leader in logistics. We have made a significant investment in Virgin Hyperloop One because we see the need for a hyperloop-enabled cargo network to support rapid, on-demand deliveries globally. We believe in Virgin Hyperloop One’s long-term vision. They are the right partner to shape the future of global logistics, and we look forward to developing the first DP World Cargospeed systems with them.” Sir Richard Branson, said: “The global growth of e-commerce is driving a dramatic shift in both consumer and business behaviour. On-demand deliveries are a novelty today. Tomorrow it will be the expectation. DP World Cargospeed systems powered by Virgin Hyperloop One will enable ultra-fast, on-demand deliveries of high-priority goods and can revolutionise logistics, support economic zones, and create thriving economic megaregions.” Hyperloop is a futuristic mode of passenger and freight transportation in which a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum steel tube, with most of its air removed, at higher than airline speed. Next-generation magnetic levitation technology combined with a low-pressure tube environment enables the pods to move quickly with little friction. Hyperloop can achieve top speeds of up to 300 metres/second, making it two to three times faster than high-speed rail. The technology facilitates autonomous operations designed to reduce human errors and run with minimal delays. Hyperloop is more cost-effective to implement and operate than high-speed rail. Its fully electric and zero direct emissions make it a highly environmentally friendly technology. DP World Cargospeed systems, enabled by Virgin Hyperloop One technology, will transport high-priority, time-sensitive goods including fresh food, medical supplies, electronics, and more. It will expand freight transportation capacity by connecting with existing modes of road, rail and air transport. Rob Lloyd, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “Based on McKinsey’s assessment of our technology, Virgin Hyperloop One-enabled supply chains can dramatically impact business bottom lines by reducing both finished goods inventory and required warehouse space by 25%. Collectively, we chose to call our Virgin Hyperloop-enabled cargo solution DP World Cargospeed, because speed is about more than just getting from A to B; it’s about optimising the entire end-to-end journey. DP World Cargospeed will offer unprecedented customer experience, reliability and the freedom from having to plan too far ahead.” The Virgin Hyperloop One system underpinning DP World Cargospeed is unique in that it doesn’t need to be passenger-only or cargo-only. It is a mixed-use system that fully utilises system capacity and maximises economic and social benefits. Systems are 100% electric and can be powered by renewable energy, creating a more sustainable solution for cargo transport."

24 Apr 2018

Arab Academy’s Maritime Programs Rival European Universities

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"Following the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) progress as a leading regional maritime academy offering a wide range of educational programs in addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, AASTMT lately achieved a new milestone, announcing that its programs are lectured in Greek College City Unity. Speaking to “Robban Assafina”, about this agreement signed with City Unity College, headquartered in Athens, Academy’s president Professor Ismail Abdel Ghafar said: “The purpose of this agreement is the provision of AASTMT Maritime Academic Programs worldwide”. He added: “The National Council for Education ESYP in Greece approved AASTMT’s academic programs. This has led to a protocol of cooperation signed between the Academy and City Unity College”. The importance of such agreement, says Dr. Abdel Ghafar, “is offering our maritime academic programs globally, and this is part of achieving AASTMT Vision, to be a world class university in Maritime Transport and higher education in compliance with the international standards of education, scientific research, innovation and training”. New branch, better expectations Speaking of the Academy’s development plans and its new branch at New Alamein City, Egypt, Abdul Ghafar says: “the new branch will be a practical response in order to mobilize all energies in light of the knowledge-based economy and reinforce a culture of innovation and creativity to ensure economic growth sustainability.” Stepping forward Regarding his future vision for AASTMT, Dr. Abdel Ghafar believes that “according to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, AASTMT was ranked 2407 out of 24,000 universities worldwide (2016), thus achieving a quantum leap locally, regionally and globally.” “We are proud of the Academy; it is a live example of the professional educational environment and the joint Arab action. Since its beginning, the Academy has been working to raise the educational level of students, and it is widely considered a platform to form and shape their personalities and improve their abilities. This surely contributes to their mental and intellectual structure, which is reflected positively on the Arab society.” In parallel, Dr. Abdul Ghafar focused on the cooperation agreement with the Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Co. (AMPTC), noting its importance as one of the practical strategic partnership between the Academy and various Arab maritime entities. In his last words during the interview, Abdel Ghafar said that achieving scientific excellence was and will continue to be the Academy’s incentive despite global competitiveness. This is achieved by providing academic education programs that is not less significant than that offered by global universities across the United States and Europe. ""The Academy has complied to modern scientific standards compatible with those applied in international universities in the field of academic education and research, as well as distinctive partnerships with international institutions and universities,” he concluded. "

23 Apr 2018

King Abdullah Port wins Recognition Award for most advanced ports

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"King Abdullah Port has concluded its participation in the Global Infrastructure Congress by winning the Recognition Award for most advanced ports. The award was presented during the closing ceremony of the conference, which was recently held at the Grant Hyatt Dubai hotel under the patronage of the Emirati Minister of Infrastructure Development Dr. Abdullah B. Al Nuaimi, and in partnership with the Ministry, the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime and the Sheikh Zayed Housing Program. Rayan Qutub, CEO of King Abdullah Port, said: “The award represents a culmination of the port’s efforts in realizing Vision 2030 as a key player in the maritime shipping and logistics sector.” He extended his thanks and appreciation to Al Nuaimi for “the valuable award, which reflects the status the port has reached after only five years of operation.” The award came in recognition of the port’s efforts in innovating new, distinguished practices in the port sector, in addition to providing world-class ideas, initiatives and projects that contribute to empowering and delivering sustainable and ready-to-use infrastructure solutions. It was announced that King Abdullah Port had won among more than 100 participants. King Abdullah Port participated in the Port and Marine Infrastructure Forum which was attended by a crowd of representatives from ministries, port authorities, private sector developers, and industry actors. Qutub delivered a detailed presentation on the port’s latest developments in regards to infrastructure and operations during a session titled “Global Perspectives and Best Practices”. As of the end of 2017, King Abdullah Port has become the second largest port in the Kingdom in terms of container handling, and it was recently ranked the eighth fastest growing port in the world in 2017 according to Alphaliner, the global leader in analyzing maritime transport data, port capabilities and the future of vessels and shipping route development. In a related context, King Abdullah Port moved up to 87th place among the world’s 100 biggest container ports for 2017, after ranking 98th in 2016. Run by the Ports Development Company, King Abdullah Port is the region’s first port to be fully owned, developed and operated by the private sector. It has been listed as the fastest growing container port in the world and one of the world’s top 100 ports after less than four years of operation. Eight of the largest shipping lines work at the port; offering integrated services to exporters and importers. The port’s development plan is proceeding at a steady pace with a clear vision to become one of the world’s leading ports, benefitting from its advanced facilities and proximity to the bonded and re-export zone and the logistics park, to offer clients logistical support that can enable them to achieve their desired growth."

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