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Amer Ali

UAE, DUBAI - Transport

Charting a New Course

Executive Director, Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA)


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. 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 in the Senior Executive Program from Harvard Business School.

What is the role of the authority with regard to creating an investment environment for the maritime and logistics industry? The Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) is a tribute to […]

What is the role of the authority with regard to creating an investment environment for the maritime and logistics industry?

The Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) is a tribute to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. The creation of this authority represents the pioneering spirit of the city itself, as it provides world-class infrastructure complemented by seamless and progressive policies that will allow businesses in the maritime industry to meet their commercial objectives. The DMCA authority provides a platform for excellence and quality, as it nurtures the ambitions of Dubai to build on its leadership position within the region as the ideal business hub for the maritime industry. DMCA’s aim is to connect all aspects of the maritime industry by providing rules and regulations that build on best practices in a consistent and responsible manner. The authority aims to play an important role in promoting the maritime industry to both government and non-government bodies, and is positioned to be the catalyst of growth for the maritime sector. DMCA’s posture of cooperation and dialogue allows companies and individuals to navigate through operational complexities, while focusing on their strategic goals within this dynamic sector. DMCA is the gateway to Dubai’s maritime sector. In line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, DMCA has a mandate to create and provide efficient processes and protocols that will allow companies to interact and operate effectively within the sector. The authority takes responsibility for establishing rules and regulations, as well as providing administrative infrastructure allowing businesses to operate efficiently. Our core strategic objectives are aligned to add value to all stakeholders by collaborating and nurturing partnerships among government entities, private companies, and NGOs.

How will the vision to further develop this sector in combination with the World Expo 2020 bid impact Dubai’s maritime industry?

In Dubai, we have successfully developed what I can safely say is the first of its kind; a 360-degree approach to developing the maritime cluster in the Emirate of Dubai. There are many hidden treasures that we are trying to cultivate and bring together to create the world’s leading maritime center here. Dubai has a very rich maritime heritage, and the city is aware of the fact that the maritime products that it offers now need to continuously expand. The Emirate has to be constantly renovated and always focused on bringing new products for it to succeed globally and sustainably. This is exactly what we are doing with the maritime sector strategy in line with the World Expo 2020 bid. In Dubai, there is a vision of excellence that we take from His Highness, who pushes us daily to be innovative and creative in developing regulations that help businesses thrive and make their lives easier, and thus they become more interested in investing in Dubai.

Considering the fact that maritime traffic in Dubai is expected to increase exponentially until 2020 and beyond, what needs to be built to facilitate this development?

If you look at the waterfront and coastal areas of Dubai, it is extremely busy relative to our size. There are many larger ships as well as individual yachts and traffic around Dubai Creek, and there are also traditional dhows that come and go every day. It is clear that things will continue to expand. We realize that there is huge growth coming our way and that there will be more traffic. According to the marine map that we have developed, we have four main achievements that will make this increase in traffic run smoothly. Firstly, we regulated maritime operations. All maritime specialists know that larger ships, when they come to certain ports or cities, need to perform certain activities, such as bunkering or ship-to-ship transfers. We have dedicated specific zones for these operations. The larger ship traffic will therefore never interfere with passenger traffic, for which we have also designated particular areas. Individuals with jet skis or yachts also have dedicated sailing areas. Finally, we have clearly marked all of the passenger and work areas with hundreds of buoys and floating navigational devices, creating a 300-meter buffer zone from the beach for individual sailors and pleasure sailing. Our main product offering is maritime regulation, and we work with the best of global and regional consultants to develop it in such a way that we do not enforce, but “engage” industry leaders in a negotiated regulatory process to develop forward-thinking maritime relations.

“We educate the public on a regular basis with simple, straightforward messages that will save lives.”

How do you distribute the new regulations to the people they affect?

We have a multi-fold strategy of communication. For example, implementing regulations for Law No. 11 of 2010 for licensing and registering marine craft in Dubai were issued in May 2013. The moment such by-laws were implemented we started with a multi-layered strategy. We approach private sector companies operating in the maritime sector, retail maritime companies, and governmental bodies that will be affected, and conduct one-on-one meetings with all of them. We also carry out mass media communication, advertisements, and sponsorships—all kinds of marketing activities—to try to get the message out. We also work with the Dubai marine police and our friends in the coast guard to make them aware of what needs to be done.

How does the maritime sector benefit from the significance of Dubai as an international maritime hub?

On the one hand, the Dubai equity of excellence is strong. Dubai has succeeded in establishing itself globally as a paradigm of success and a beacon of achievement in business, tourism, and commerce. We have developed dynamic, forward-thinking, and business-friendly maritime regulations that maximize business oportunities, and make it very easy for maritime investors to do their work in Dubai. This is what Dubai is all about; enabling people to make the most of their business.

What are the major achievements of the authority in regulating the maritime sector and providing people with a regulatory framework?

The maritime authority is working closely with all of the different actors, and this way of working is an achievement in itself. We do not live and work alone—everything we do affects other organizations. For this reason, a close working relationship is important. We think in a young, progressive, forward-thinking way, which is focused on maximizing success for commercial enterprises. Our vision is to create a safe and vibrant maritime environment. One of our achievements in safety has been establishing that life jackets at sea are as important as seatbelts in a car. We educate the public on a regular basis with simple, straightforward messages that will save lives. We go to schools and give lectures, we develop and publish boating best-practice documents that we make available, and we work to improve awareness of safety at sea. On the corporate side, we develop regulations that would never hurt businesses.

What kind of relationships do you have with other maritime authorities in the region and the UAE?

Our philosophy is to address the needs of the maritime industry with all parties concerned. The UAE is blessed with a very stable political system, and we enjoy that. Each Emirate has its own priorities when it comes to maritime strategies, but all share an important vision, which is to develop a unique and pioneering maritime center in the UAE. A recent example was a meeting with the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, at which we shared our best practices when it comes to registering marine craft, and its officials shared with us how they are approaching the same topic.

What is your future outlook for DMCA?

The future is clear as it is mentioned in our vision statement. We aim to create a safe and vibrant maritime environment. We are creating a maritime context that is competitive, successful, and sustainable. It is competitive in that it will continue to be a first choice for investors in terms of maritime investment, successful in that it brings valuable contributions to the GDP of the Emirate, and also sustainable in that we are not working only to make Dubai’s maritime sector competitive now, but to be successful for the next 50 to 100 years. We want to bring a lot of Emiratis into this sector, and share our excitement about its future.



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