Jan. 12, 2015

Amer Ali

UAE, Dubai

Amer Ali

Executive Director, Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA)


Amer Ali supervises all management and implementation aspects of Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA). He works to establish DMCA’s vision of a safe, vibrant, and sustainable maritime environment in Dubai. Amer Ali 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 like Jebel Ali Real Estate and Dubai Ports 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.

Founded in 2007, how is Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) playing a role in the reaffirmation of Dubai's position as a first-class international maritime hub?

DMCA, the government authority charged with regulating, coordinating, and supervising all aspects of the maritime sector in Dubai, provides a platform of excellence and quality as it develops world-class regulations and guidelines to raise the bar for the maritime industry and boost its infrastructure, operations, and logistics services while encouraging investment opportunities to boost Dubai's competitiveness at the regional and international levels. DMCA has affirmed its commitment to support the Dubai Maritime Vision 2030 plan of creating a vibrant and safe maritime environment in the next two decades, which also seeks to establish Dubai as a leading global maritime hub. Dubai Maritime Vision 2030 is of strategic significance as it underpins efforts to improve the local maritime sector. It also emphasizes how the competitive potentials of Dubai place it among the leading logistics and maritime centers in the MENA region, and in the whole world. Dubai's huge growth opportunities provide a positive outlook for Dubai's maritime sector in the next few years. In line with this, DMCA will continue to take big strides in establishing the global appeal of Dubai's maritime sector and helping realize the ambitious objectives of Vision 2030, which serves as an important guide for achieving a competitive and sustainable maritime economy that meets the highest environmental safety standards. Dubai Maritime Vision 2030 is the result of a meticulous study conducted on behalf of DMCA covering global maritime trends and possible scenarios. It provides a framework for anticipating future outcomes and their implications on the Emirate's maritime sector.

Which key characteristics of Dubai's maritime sector attract leading players from across the region and worldwide to invest in Dubai's future growth opportunities?

The maritime sector has played an important part in shaping Dubai's rich history in marine navigation and trade through the centuries. It also continues to be an important element as Dubai develops into a leading maritime gateway for traders in Southeast Asia and the west coast of Africa. Dubai's maritime sector still has significant room for growth. In response to the urgent need for an integrated framework to enhance local maritime elements, the Maritime Sector Strategy (MSS) was established by Dubai to capitalize on the Emirate's competitive advantages to raise its prominence in the international maritime landscape per the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. As a result of the government's continuous support for the maritime sector as a catalyst for economic diversification, Dubai is steadily moving in the direction of establishing itself as one of the world's pioneering maritime centers. The Emirate has achieved so much in terms of ports management, ship maintenance and operation, and overall maritime services. Dubai has deftly leveraged its numerous advantages, such as its strategic location, secure investment environment, integrated maritime regulations, ongoing economic, social, and cultural progress, and business-friendly government support.

How do you see the maritime sector playing a role in Dubai's economic diversification?

The local maritime sector is one of the major income generators for Dubai, recently accounting for AED14.4 billion, or 4.6% of local GDP. Among the top maritime components contributing to the local economy are maritime operations and engineering, ports and shipping, recreational maritime services, and maritime support services. These have played pivotal roles in creating over 75,000 job opportunities requiring high levels of competence for various industry segments, such as maritime operations and engineering and ports, which account for 51% and 25% of sector employment, respectively. A recent benchmarking study on leadership across the international maritime industry conducted by DMCA reveals that the value-added contributions of Dubai's maritime sector to the local economy are at 4.6% compared to 4.5% in Hong Kong, 7% in Singapore, and 4.8% in Norway. In terms of economic value-added, the sector provided AED14.4 billion ($3.92 billion) in income to Dubai, compared to AED41.1 billion ($11.20 billion) for Hong Kong, AED67.8 billion ($18.47 billion) for Singapore, and AED95.1 billion ($25.9 billion) for Norway. The study also shows how the maritime sector has become a prime source of employment. Dubai's maritime jobs ranked fourth with 75,000 employees. Hong Kong leads the pack with 222,000 employees, followed by Singapore with 167,000 and Norway with 101,000.

One of DMCA's pillars is the importance of safety. What steps are being made to ensure safety for both citizens and investors, and what are the biggest challenges you are facing in this regard?

As part of the first-of-its-kind maritime sector strategy's initiatives for developing, organizing, and promoting Dubai's maritime industry, DMCA is proceeding with the implementation of its maritime safety programs. The initiatives approved by the Dubai Executive Council's Health and Safety Committee reflect DMCA's commitment to establishing an integrated approach to maritime safety aimed at developing, organizing, and promoting the local maritime industry, and thus promoting maritime development and safety by requiring higher levels of operational performance and advanced, highly-efficient infrastructure capable of ensuring the safety of workers, passengers, and visitors. At DMCA, we believe that establishing a comprehensive strategy and unified guidelines to ensure high levels of maritime safety is instrumental in achieving the ultimate objective of raising the bar in maritime activities and ensuring safe navigation. Our maritime safety strategy comprises a set of regulations, guidelines, and initiatives focusing on the vital areas of marine vessels and cruise ships, marine operations, and passengers. A key contributor to Dubai's World Expo 2020 hosting preparations, the policy's series of unified standards comply with international maritime benchmarks. It serves as a foundation for supporting the national economy by attracting foreign investments to the local maritime sector and developing industry components while promoting Dubai's regional and international maritime competitiveness.

What is the strategy behind your recent “Maritime Creativity Lab" initiative, and what output do you expect from such a program?

The Maritime Creativity Lab initiative was launched in response to the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, who called for the adoption of the “Government Creativity Lab" experiment as a standardized practice to develop government services and enhance government administrative performance. The Maritime Creativity Lab is based on the latest advanced modes, smart communication networks, and digital technologies such as tablets and smart screens. It is also providing an online portal and a set of mobile applications along with private accounts on social media networks to guarantee a favorable climate for drawing out creative ideas that would help develop a renewed and secure maritime sector in line with the highest standards of sustainability and excellence. Set to start operations in early 2015, the Maritime Creativity Lab provides a smart and interactive platform to boost communication among public and private entities, decision makers, industry experts, and maritime specialists, through face-to-face meetings under the umbrella of DMCA. The Maritime Creativity Lab will include interactive meetings and brainstorming sessions with leading local maritime experts, as well as with regional and international professionals to discuss key subjects related to the improvement of operational efficiency, environmental protection, and strategic planning. It is based on the corporate values of DMCA, which encourage innovation and creativity to establish a vibrant and sustainable industry in order to boost Dubai's comprehensive development march under the directives of our wise leadership.

What major investments and future projects are in the pipeline for 2014 and beyond?

The local maritime industry remains a key driver of sustainable growth and future comprehensive development and is a major factor in boosting Dubai's competitiveness at the regional and international level. To date, DMCA has started many initiatives, and has more planned. In 2014, we are launching the Dubai Maritime Week, with an added focus on the role of Dubai's Expo 2020 win in boosting regional trade and creating higher demand on maritime logistical aspects. In addition, the week will see the congregation of world maritime leaders in Dubai to discuss the global trends and challenges facing the maritime industry and how Dubai is playing a catalyst role in the region's growth. Also set to go into effect in early 2015, the Maritime Creativity Lab will provide a smart and interactive platform to boost communication among public and private entities, decision makers, industry experts, and maritime specialists, through face-to-face meetings under the umbrella of DMCA. These meetings will be held to discuss major industry topics and emerging challenges on the maritime sector as well as establishing effective strategies to overcome obstacles, thereby positioning Dubai among the top maritime hubs of the world. DMCA will continue to uphold highly effective international maritime regulations and practices to ensure the delivery of first-class services that can tap the economic potential of hosting Expo 2020. The Expo is an economic catalyst that will energize trade in the Emirate in the coming years. The continuous improvement of operational and logistical efficiencies across maritime-related segments is instrumental to optimizing the flow of supply channels across land, sea, and air.