Nov. 1, 2018

Amer Ali

UAE, Dubai

Amer Ali

Executive Director, Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA)

TBY talks to Amer Ali, Executive Director of Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), on the implementation of smart applications, Innovation Quay, and Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster.


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.

What are the main trends shaping the maritime industry?

Constant adoption of necessary technology and infrastructure capable of handling advancements is imperative to ensure competitiveness. Futuristic solutions, smart applications, and maritime licensing procedures are our key focus areas, with innovation and smart transformation at the core of our efforts. The sector plays a crucial role in Dubai's transformation into a leading global economic hub, in line with the Dubai Plan 2021. DMCA has recently adopted the "Dubai Maritime Innovation Quattro Helix Partnerships" model, which is intended to strengthen the collaboration between the government, academicians, private sector, and research and development institutions. Implementation of smart applications and e-licensing mechanisms remain our key focus areas to further build on our vision to make innovation and smart transformation the cornerstones for exploring and redefining the future of the maritime sector. We have launched a wide range of applications and services by DMCA to facilitate online inquiries and payments including application status; crew license validity; craft license validity; penalty search; application for penalty objection; penalty payment; and service payment. Dubai has been immensely successful in capitalizing on its strong reputation in the maritime sector to attract major international shipping companies. According to a Menon Group survey, the Emirate was rated 10th among the top-15 maritime cities worldwide by industry leaders.

How do you assess the success of the Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy (DMSS)?

DMSS is a major stride toward achieving a fundamental change across the local maritime industry to ultimately position Dubai as a foremost international maritime hub. The strategy was launched to drive investment opportunities in Dubai. World-class infrastructure and business-friendly regulations are key focus areas of the strategy. We continuously invest in more advanced infrastructure, the development of policies and integrated regulatory frameworks, and further enhancement of our maritime capabilities, all of which will secure Dubai's leading position on the global maritime map. According to a report released by Menon Group for Business Economics, the Emirate ranked fifth in the most competitive and attractive maritime clusters in the world. Through the successful implementation of the strategy, we aim to increase the sector's contributions to economy, which accounted for AED26.9 billion, or 7%, of total GDP in 2017. The latest numbers are indicative of the growth of maritime sector's contributions, which grew at an unprecedented rate of 25%.

How does Innovation Quay enhance innovation and the use of advanced technologies in Dubai's maritime sector?

Innovation Quay is an ambitious venture designed to take advantage of technological innovations in support of the efforts to drive development across all aspects of the maritime sector, thereby accelerating the country's economic diversification. It complements the successes of DMCA's "Maritime Creativity and Innovation Lab" in nurturing a culture of creativity and expanding the maritime clustering in line with the needs of the 21st century. Innovation Quay encourages leading manufacturers and research institutions to carry out field studies to create new experiences using the latest innovative technologies such as drones, 3D technology, and smart and self-driving ships.

To what extent has Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster (DMVC) harnessed cooperation and engagement?

The establishment of DMVC is in line with our efforts to add to the competitiveness and attractiveness of the local maritime sector. It builds on four main pillars of developing maritime clusters, empowering the sector, spreading awareness, and encouraging participation. The initiative has immense potential to enhance the sector's competitiveness, inclusiveness, and excellence. In addition, it seeks to boost investor confidence in Dubai at the regional and global levels, as well as strengthen the maritime sector's role as a vital economic contributor to the Emirate's economic diversification as it prepares for a post-oil era. By enabling investors and stakeholders to gain reliable information on services, initiatives and competitive advantages offered by Dubai, DMVC's informative and interactive platform supports the national efforts aimed at making Dubai the world's smartest and happiest city by 2021.