The head of the National Association of Freight Logistics, Captain Mansoor YA Ghafoor (pictured above), sat down with Emirates Business to discuss the future of the shipping industry in the UAE.
Overall, he predicted that shipping prices will fall in the future, while the shipping sector in Dubai will see 25 per cent growth as a result of the continued real estate boom in the country.
How do you evaluate the shipping sector in Dubai?
-- The sector has witnessed huge growth year on year. It is supported by strong infrastructure, like ports and airports. There are two airports with a capacity of up to 150 million passengers. There are also two ports with a five-million-container capacity along with a logistics city.
How do such government investments affect the shipping sector?
-- These investments enhance Dubai’s position and make it able to compete globally. For example, the new dock at Jebel Ali Port has the capability to receive ships with up to 15,000 containers. This is a big number, and it is the only port that can receive such large ships. The port’s expansion came as a result of growth in the manufacturing of giant ships. Big ships with 15,000 container loads will contribute to the decrease of prices by a big percentage. So, there are expectations that prices will fall with the entry of these ships into the market. I want to confirm that Jebel Ali Port is the biggest port between Singapore and the Suez Channel.
What about competition from nearby ports?
-- I do not think that these ports have the ability to compete. Aqaba Port in Jordan, for example, meets the needs of the region, so it is a regional port. Salala Port serves the transit movement, and the Sultanate of Oman is not a big consumption market. But Dubai is a big market and has potential in the field of re- export.
What does Dubai need to maintain the advantages it has achieved in this field?
-- Dubai needs a vision, the establishment of a sea navigation line and commercial fleet serving its trade in times of crisis and it needs to end monopolies. I question why this line has not been established yet. We have the experience and financing, all we lack is the creation of a strategic vision to carry out this ambitious project. I call on the private sector to consider the project seriously.
I also call for the establishment of a marine academy to provide the market with national cadres to lead the sector. Such an academy will also attract students from neighbouring countries.
What is your role in the support of the sector?
-- We are in a continual contact with officials. We have a training plan to increase the efficiency and qualifications of people working in the sector. In addition, we try to bring more young people to work. Currently Emirati representation in the sector does not even equal one per cent. We are working in tandem with the Dubai Economic Development Department to rectify this.
As far as the field of services is concerned, we are keen to enhance the position of Dubai as a centre of excellence for the shipping and logistics worldwide. We plan to concentrate on quality and distinguished service.
What is the size of the sector in Dubai?
-- There are around 200 firms.
Expansion is key to success of shipping industry