Maritime overview lead
The UAE’s strategy of economic diversification over the past decade has paid rich dividends for its maritime business Image Credit: Courtesy Dubai Maritime City Authority

Abu Dhabi: A new draft law provides for 100 per cent foreign ownership of maritime companies, sets up a maritime Development Fund to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and introduces a new dispute settlement system, said Dr Abdullah Bin Mohammad Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Land and Maritime Transport Authority (FTA).

Al Nuaimi told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Sunday the new bill, scheduled to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval by the end of this year, is consistent with the aspirations of the UAE leaders to support maritime investment.

“It provides a number of investment incentives for those who would like to make maritime investments. The draft law has a full chapter on maritime investment and incentives for maritime investors. This includes 100 per cent foreign ownership of maritime companies, registering vessels under the UAE flag and the establishment of a new maritime development fund to support citizens who want to invest in the maritime sector,” he said.

The minister added that the new draft law includes an update for the maritime lien rules to promote investment.

“It also includes a new maritime dispute settlement system to sort out disputes arising from maritime investment between investors and maritime navigation authorities, through dispute settlement committees in FTA centres in the country,” Al Nuaimi said.

He added that the new law includes a proposal for the establishment of a maritime navigation chamber to represent the interests of the private sector, such as companies and vessel owners, and for this chamber to become a member of the International Chamber of Navigation.

The new law, he said, also enables FTA, UAE ports and other competent authorities to address the problem of vessels abandoned in regional waters, provides greater protection to the rights of seafarers and sets out requirements for maritime education and training.

The minister confirmed that the FTA made sure that the new bill is consistent with the provisions introduced by international conventions, which are developing quickly and continuously. These include but are not limited to: the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 and Protocol of 1997; the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992, as amended; the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, 1992, as amended; the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990; the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems in Ships, 2001; and International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004.

Al Nuaimi said the law includes an extensive update of the traditional rules of maritime legislations, such as rules relating to maritime collisions, assistance, insurance and passenger and goods transport.

“Furthermore, it introduces new provisions as well as definitions for individuals of maritime law, such as maritime agents [ship’s agent, shipping agent and transit agent]. It also introduces provisions relating to freight forwarders,” Al Nuami said.