"We are ensuring that different parts of our digital system will talk to each other in one smart network”
Roger Clasquin | CEO, RAK Ports
How do you visualise the UAE maritime sector growing in the post-pandemic world? What role will RAK Ports play here?
Despite the many challenges the maritime sector faced during the global Covid-19 pandemic, RAK Ports saw its volumes reach record highs. Although current market volatilities and commodity price swings are challenging, our growth trajectory continues and 2022 is set to be another outstanding year. This consistent uptick in volumes is great news for RAK Ports, but it means our business must adapt quickly.
The UAE will continue to be a critical hub for global shipping in the years ahead, and RAK Ports is ideally poised to play a leading role. Sustainability will be a key theme, and the UAE will again be at the forefront. We are already assessing how stricter emissions regulations may affect vessels operating in our waters and how we can best integrate alternative energy strategies at RAK Ports. The UAE recently showcased its Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap to promote the country’s maritime energy transition, as we work towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That plan includes our industry producing green hydrogen and processing it as the basis for bunker fuel for ships and for export.
RAK Ports has made significant investments in expansion in the past few years. What are the key areas of investments?
We are not only investing into physical infrastructure with a massive land reclamation project already well underway at Saqr Port/Freezone, which will provide much needed space for new industrial investment to support the diversification of the local economy and more opportunities for skilled employment; we are also working on a full digitisation strategy to increase efficiencies. While many ports are implementing standalone digital systems, we are taking a more connected approach at RAK Ports. This will ensure that different parts of our system will talk to each other in one smart network. For example, our German-engineered dry-bulk cranes already use IoT technologies to submit automated reports that allow our customers to see the status of their cargo loading in real-time.
“Future challenges for companies would include strengthening digital capabilities and protecting against cyberattacks”
Ramesh S. Ramakrishnan | Chairman, Transworld
Congratulations on the MoU signed between Transworld and eShipper! What does this deal signify for Transworld and the UAE shipping and logistics sector in general?
With this Joint-Venture with eShipper, Transworld Group further augments its services to its customers by providing end-to-end services using a combination of advanced infrastructure, multimodal fulfilment and last mile delivery. The strong legacy, brand and service synergies of both the organisations coming together will offer a unique service offering to our esteemed customers and Transworld Group becomes one of the few companies in the UAE to provide services ranging from shipping to last mile operations. eShipper has a very specific expertise and have been building it up in Canada and North America over the last 15 years.
We have entered JV with them to enhance our e-commerce delivery, in the Middle East to start with, which will eventually come to India. Online buying is here to stay. It is a good space for somebody like us, having the right technology, people, and skill sets. This also compliments a lot of what we do as a logistics company.
As a sector pioneer, what is the toughest challenge you foresee for shipping and logistics in a post-pandemic scenario and how do you see Transworld surmounting, it?
One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic for companies was to abruptly take their operations digital. Thankfully for Transworld Group, we started the process of digitalisation few years ago and we were successfully able to adapt during the pandemic. Going forward, one of the biggest challenges for the companies would be to quickly adapt and strengthen their digital capabilities to be able to align with the industry and also protect themselves from cyberattacks.
What are Transworld’s expansion plans over the next five years?
The essence of Transworld growth trajectory has been innovation and getting into new frontiers. There are lots of different areas within the logistics and supply chain space offering us score to evolve and build new business ideas. Our supply chain business, for example, the sea freight, air freight, warehousing, 3PL, 4PL, business, has been growing. The plan now is to refocus our energies on increasing the pace of growth.
We are also looking at enhancing our global footprint in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Far East. So, be it through our asset-owning or asset-light businesses, we are focused on serving our customers better. Our focus is on becoming a complete solutions provider for our customers. Today if a customer asks for any service from Transworld, we can provide first mile to last mile solutions.
As a philosophy TW group is driven by the higher purpose of delivering prosperity to humanity.
While we are in the business to make profits for our shareholders, employees and associated partners, the sublime goal is to use this wealth as a medium to share and create prosperity for the entire ecosystem and be a catalyst for positive change. Our corporate responsibility activities are spread across all sections of the society and environment. The employees and their respective families are all involved in our social activities, thereby spreading the culture of compassion and giving.
We are also setting ourselves a goal at the Transworld Group where by taking a pledge to work towards being a carbon-neutral organisation by 2043. To reach that aim, over the next few years, we will start with focusing on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to meet these goals in a more measurable manner.
"The wider challenge is that the global shipping industry needs to catch up and embrace change”
Laurance Langdon | General Manager, Modern Freight Company (MFC)
How much in your view as an industry pioneer has the industry changed since the early years and what is its scope for expansion going forward?
With the vision of the UAE leaders, the move to digital and paperless and the implementation of blockchain, change is happening fast in the logistics sector. It’s clear that JAFZA wants to be the region’s central point for business and their openness to listen to their customers enables this change, and MFC has for decades always been a go-to partner for JAFZA to discuss and test these new ideas. There is a wider challenge, and perhaps the bottleneck is that the industry needs to catch up and embrace many of these changes so globally everyone is connected, but for now the UAE is definitely well positioned for the future.
Enhancing business procedures is an obstacle for shipping firms, how is MFC evolving to counter this?
Covid sent out a message to businesses — evolve or die, demanding a different work ethic. So, MFC overhauled its processes, investing in a new ERP, a system built in-house for our customers. Visibility and customer connectivity is in demand, and now we are more efficient, which improves our customer experience.
“We are considered to be the largest maritime classification office in the UAE”
Waleed Abdulla Mohamed al-Tamimi | General Manager, Tasneef Maritime
As the first UAE maritime body to apply the GCC Code, how is Tasneef Maritime guaranteeing the safety of the UAE maritime environment?
The GCC Code is a set of guidelines developed by the GCC nations for Non-Convention Vessels that are smaller than 500 tons, and are not obliged to follow International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions. The code focuses on the safety of the small vessels and ensures that they don’t cause marine pollution, using this code as a reference. Tasneef inspects these vessels for their compliance and issues certifications to enable them to obtain navigation licenses from the UAE Flag Administration.
Without Tasneef Certification, these vessels cannot operate in UAE waters. With over 70 professional staff, we are considered the largest maritime classification office in the UAE.
What classification and advisory services do Tasneef offer?
Tasneef can provide Classification and Statutory Services for all types of commercial vessels that require certification by law., such as tankers, bulk ships, container ships, etc. We also provide certification services for naval vessels and private yachts that include the UAE Yacht Code. The advisory services are numerous. One of the services we introduced uses Artificial Intelligence in the inspection of assets to ensure their integrity. Assets can be large civil structures like ports or complicated offshore structures such as production rigs for oil and gas.
"The industry saw a steep learning curve through 2020-21, with massive increase in freight costs”
Rosh Manoli | Vice President – Freight Forwarding, Consolidated Shipping Services Group
As an industry head, in your view how has ocean freight management changed post-pandemic?
The industry had a steep learning curve through 2020-21, while witnessing a massive increase in freight costs, with container and shipping prices reaching up to ten times higher than before the pandemic. Congestions in major ports have also played a huge role and we still cannot ascertain if this will reduce, seeing that the pandemic is not over yet. The successive waves of Covid have impacted a drop in personnel as well – right from a shortage of professional truck drivers to logistic operators in key markets causing difficulties in optimised operation of ports, terminals, and warehouses. As an organisation, CSS has been resilient to withstand these changes.
What are CSS’ expansion plans?
CSS is expanding its operations into Saudi Arabia, in line with the KSA vision of 2030 that also focuses on logistics as a key economy driver. We are also expanding into East Africa this year. CSS also invested in tech, ramping up our IT capabilities to maintain a 360-degree control for operational cohesiveness.