Google the definition of maritime and the result points to ships, shipping, navigation or seamen. Drill down the definition and it becomes apparent that it is a vast business network which is quite complex and touches everything that is transported between land and the sea.
One of the key economic pillars of the UAE is the maritime industry, with the Gulf nation being considered Asia’s most connected country in the sector. As a country that continues to advance its maritime infrastructure, it makes sense that the authorities have recognised the need to instil a framework for ancillary services to ensure a well-rounded industry that has the capacity to meet the needs of this multifaceted sector in the heart of the Middle East.
A core element that shapes the shipping industry in the UAE is the provision for legal services, specifically relevant to dispute resolution. It starts with one of the unique provisions of the judicial environment, where the UAE provides for a civil law jurisdiction onshore in any of the seven emirates, or a common law jurisdiction through the Dubai International Financial Centre, and most recently the Abu Dhabi Global Markets. These options give the international trading community the choice to contract in a jurisdiction that meets their needs and is available in the same geographical location. The sector sees a representation of reputable international and local maritime specialised law firms, registered in the UAE, establishing the country as a perfect seat of arbitration.
However, what was missing in the UAE until 2016 was an industry focused place to facilitate dispute resolution where awards were enforceable by law. The advent of the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC) has essentially plugged that gap, giving parties the option of applying arbitration or mediation in their contracts. They can benefit from its privacy and confidentiality policy, a choice in jurisdiction in the UAE, the application of language and most importantly, the appointment of an arbitrator, tribunal or mediator who understands the merit of a respective case that is enforceable in any one of the New York Convention states of which the UAE is a member. These are in line with international best practices in maritime arbitration.
The advent of the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC) has essentially plugged that gap, giving parties the option of applying arbitration or mediation in their contracts.
As with any industry, shipping experiences peak and trough in trade, and when the markets are challenged, it’s all about access to practical and viable services that are
cost effective. EMAC’s rates and services have been designed to meet regional business practices at affordable rates.
A centre like EMAC certainly goes a long way in strengthening the UAE’s aspirations of becoming one of the world’s top ten maritime hubs.
— The writer is in charge of EMAC’s commercial operations