TBY talks to Amer Ali, Executive Director of Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), on the newly launched DVMC, the strengths of the sector, and transforming Dubai into one of the world's most important maritime centers.

Amer Ali
Amer Ali supervises all management and implementation aspects of DMCA. He works to establish DMCA’s vision of a safe, vibrant, and sustainable maritime environment in Dubai. He began his career as Manager of Promotions and Exhibitions at Dubai Ports Authority in 1999. He then held senior positions at other Dubai World companies, such as Jebel Ali Real Estate and DP World. Among other qualifications, he holds a bachelor’s degree in communications management and a diploma in mass communication. He also holds a degree from the Senior Executive Program at Harvard Business School.

DMCA recently signed an agreement to work with DNV GL on smart shipping, digitalization, big data, and real-time information management initiatives. What brought that partnership about?

To make Dubai a first-class international maritime gateway, we need to invest in the areas of research, innovation, and advanced technology while simultaneously promoting the sharing of knowledge and experiences. This includes addressing environmental, safety, and quality concerns in the local maritime industry. Combining all these factors has led to the birth of the DMCA's partnership with DNV GL. By working together, we will be able to drive growth and innovation at both local and regional levels, as well as ensuring the highest standards of safety and quality within Dubai's maritime community. The agreement reflects our willingness to optimize opportunities and leverage digital developments to create a sustainable, well-respected, and world-class local maritime environment.

How do you expect the newly launched Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster (DMVC) to increase cooperation and service provision between companies in the sector?

The DMVC is an interactive platform developed to facilitate engagement and communication among local maritime clusters as well as members of the global maritime sector. These services include arbitration, training, classification, insurance, finance, brokerage, shipping, ports, shipbuilding and repair, licensing, the establishment of companies in free and non-free zones, marine recreational services, and others. We aim to boost the confidence of regional and international investors in Dubai as well as highlight the Emirate's position as one of the world's important maritime hubs and the role of the sector in the economic diversification policy. We believe that such efforts will result in substantial foreign investments that will influence further economic growth. Another is to raise the local maritime community's competitiveness in alignment with the Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy, facilitating access to our integrated portfolio of smart maritime services. And lastly, we hope to showcase our key initiatives designed to make Dubai the world's smartest and happiest city. Through the DMVC, channels of communication between influential global players will be improved, strengthening constructive cooperation to ultimately increase the quality of initiatives supporting innovation, research and development, disaster recovery efforts, maritime safety, carbon footprint reduction, sustainability, and key marketing activities.

How has the maritime sector continued to be a significant part of the economy, despite global economic headwinds?

Like all other sectors, the global maritime industry has faced strong challenges due to lower commodity prices and currency fluctuations. Despite the challenging conditions, DMCA's full-year and recent output illustrates our robust growth. We are optimistic about gaining momentum in trade in the mid- to long-term outlook and remain committed to deliver as per market requirements. Dubai will continue to have a flourishing maritime sector that aims to be one of the world's safest, sustainable, and integrated maritime destinations. This will be reinforced through the Maritime Sector Strategy; ensuring the local maritime sector remains competitive and maintains its development abreast of regional and global developments.

What factors are you focusing on for 2017 and ahead?

For 2017 and beyond, we are looking at strengthening several key components to further reinforce Dubai's global status as the fifth-most competitive and attractive maritime cluster in the world, according to a report released by Menon Business Economic Group in Singapore. In terms of the Dubai Maritime Cluster Office and the Maritime Creativity Lab, our focus areas are the interactive smart platform encouraging innovative ideas for developing integrated strategies to improve the performance, safety, efficiency, and competitiveness of the local marine sector. The Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy will continue to transform Dubai into one of the world's most important maritime centers. It will not only strengthen the key components of the local maritime sector, including ports, imports and exports, and financing services, but will also develop logistics and maritime services to maximize growth opportunities for ship owners, brokers, and maritime finance and insurance companies.