A ship berths in Dubai. UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has dedicated initiatives to care for and support seafarers in UAE.. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: In line with its commitment to adopting the best practices of the UAE Government Excellence System, and launching initiatives that have a global impact, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has launched the ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative to improve the quality of life for seafarers while they are in the UAE. The initiative protects seafarers’ rights with ship owners and operating companies, as well as helps seafarers overcome the challenges they face as a result of the pandemic and travel restrictions.

The ministry has dedicated initiatives to care for and support seafarers. This will have a global impact in the countries with trade links that depend on the shipping industry and its soldiers of seafarers.

Protecting seafarers’ rights

‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative is a comprehensive framework through which the ministry develops a strategy that combines all its initiatives and achievements supporting seafarers and protecting their rights. It also aims to provide a national platform for government and private organisations and agencies, as well as build partnerships with local and international NGOs that care for seafarers to improve the quality of their lives.

The initiative includes several achievements of the ministry in terms of protecting and supporting seafarers. The most prominent of these achievements is contributing to issuing the Cabinet’s resolution regarding marine wrecks and violating ships; announcing the regulations that guarantee the protection of seafarers’ rights; and signing an agreement with the International Transport Workers’ Federation to enhance cooperation in supporting seafarers.

‘UAE — a logistics hub’

Commenting on this initiative, Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “When talking about the maritime transport sector, the UAE is a unique model. It ranks as the ninth-best global maritime hub and has some of the largest and most developed ports in the region in terms of infrastructure and digital systems. The UAE is a logistics hub linking global shipping lines and has the major share of the ships that call on the region’s ports, with more than 21,000 ships every year. More than 20,000 local and international maritime companies operate in the UAE with over 17 million containers handled in the UAE ports annually. These operations add significant economic returns to the national economy. All these achievements cannot be made without the dedication of thousands of seafarers who arrive in the UAE’s waters onboard ships from across the world.”

Cabinet resolution

Al Mazrouei added: “In line with the ministry’s role and our responsibility to set laws related to the maritime sector, as well as ensure compliance to these laws, we are keen to ensure that our legal system supports seafarers who contribute to the UAE’s economic development. The latest achievement was the Cabinet resolution regarding marine wrecks and violating ships, which obliges all UAE flag ships and foreign flag ships in UAE waters or calling UAE ports to guarantee the rights of seafarers and fulfil their needs.”

Al Mazrouei emphasised that the UAE will not tolerate any ship owner or operating company that fails to perform its duties towards seafarers or abandons them on board ships on the UAE shores.

Sheikh Nasser Majid Al-Qasimi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport Sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “The UAE Government Excellence System and the Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Programme have always motivated us to develop innovative ideas and projects, as well as adopt best practices. Inspired by this system, particularly the ‘Enhancing Wellbeing’ criterion, we have launched this initiative, which crowns the efforts of the Ministry’s team for several years to protect seafarers and provide better living conditions for them. We are confident that this initiative will have a global impact as thousands of seafarers who come to the UAE will benefit from it.”

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Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “As a key player in the maritime sector, the UAE has an additional responsibility towards the maritime transport sector and the shipping industry in general and seafarers in particular. Being a member of the Executive Council of the International Maritime Organisation in Category B, our legal system fits our role and supports tangible initiatives and achievements. This has prompted us to launch this initiative, which is integrated with the comprehensive system of Government Excellence and the vision of the wise leadership.”