The Business Year

HE Salem Ali Al Zaabi

UAE, ABU DHABI - Transport

Going Places

Director General, Federal Land and Marine Transport Authority (FLMTA)


HE Salem Ali Al Zaabi is the Director General of the FLMTA. Since 2009, he holds the position of Executive Director — Marine and Land Transport Sector. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of United Arab Shipping Company and he is also the Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chairman of Steering Committee of United Arab Shipping Company, the official shipping line owned by the Gulf Countries, Vice Chairman of Gulf Navigation Holding PJSC and Vice Chairman of Emirates Classification Society (Tasneef). He holds Master’s degrees in Administration and International Development in Government Sector from Kentucky State University, US, and has completed several specialized courses in Maritime Studies from renowned institutions such as Cambridge University in the UK and Harvard University in Boston.

TBY talks to HE Salem Ali Al Zaabi, Director General of the Federal Land and Marine Transport Authority (FLMTA), on regulating the sector, maritime capacity, and the promise of the GCC railway project.

What is the primary strategy of the Federal Land and Marine Transport Authority (FLMTA) when it comes to regulating the transport sector?

The FLMTA is the federal authority that regulates land and maritime transport for the whole of the UAE, including railways. For maritime, we are now registering all of the ships in the UAE (except for fishing boats, which is done by the Ministry of Environment). We are the representatives for the country at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). We are the maritime authority for the UAE. The UAE has its own maritime law, which was promulgated in 1981, and we are now trying to update it. In terms of land transport, we are working according to the land transport law, which was approved in 2011.

What laws do you have regarding land transport?

The land transport law was approved in 2011, and we started to implement it in 2013. It works in three phases. The first is that we have to register the company. We are almost done with this and we are continuing. Now, we are issuing the permission for trucks and buses for transportation. It is mainly in the truck side of transportation, and we began this at the start of September 2014. We are now implementing this law ,and we have to see its impact on the economy, the UAE, and neighboring countries. Then, the higher authority of the government will decide to amend it or continue it.

How would you assess the contribution of the maritime sector in the national economy?

Of course, maritime transport is one of the main aspects of our work because it is connected with the economy. Most of the imported cargo to the UAE is transported by ships. Even exported cargo mainly goes by ships at a level of between 80% and 90%. Being an oil-exporting country, we export our oil by tankers over water, meaning we depend mostly on the maritime sector. Also, whatever you see transported in trucks is linked with ships. When the ships come to the ports, the trucks take the cargo from them and distribute it to the rest of the country. Also, the UAE has advantages in that it is a transshipment country and a hub for the container industry.

How do you see Abu Dhabi’s role in the UAE’s maritime sector?

Abu Dhabi is now also expanding very quickly. Port Khalifa is one of the most recognized ports in the world because it employs the best technology. The port has serviced more than 2 million containers since opening, while plans to expand this are being created. Also, Kizad is playing a major role because when most people come to discharge cargo, they want the logistics side of things taken care of as well. In Abu Dhabi, Kizad is performing the role of storing cargo and then shipping it around the world, and is expanding quickly so as to cope with the demand. We see Khalifa Port in the future being one of the leading ports in the region.

What kinds of regulations are you looking at for the national railway?

The country is now a part of the GCC railway project. This will change the style of business in the UAE ,and it will provide more services to clients in terms of moving cargo from Kuwait all the way to Oman. The deadline is expected to be in 2018 according to the study, and the UAE has the majority of the area of this project. The UAE has already started construction, and now the first phase of cargo shipping is underway.



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