Arabian Gulf Port Operators Discuss COVID-19 Challenges
Abu Dhabi Ports held a virtual roundtable workshop with port operators from across the Arabian Gulf, to discuss shared experiences, challenges faced and best practices when dealing with COVID-19.
Hosted by video conference, and held in cooperation with the Arab Sea Ports Federation (ASPF) Regional Office based in Abu Dhabi, the agenda included presentations from Ports and Maritime Affairs – Bahrain, Mawani – Saudi Ports Authority, Kuwait Port Authority, Port of Salalah , as well as the port operators of Fujairah, Dubai and Sharjah and who all touched upon shared experiences relating to business continuity, health and safety, performance and sea operations.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the port operators agreed on standardized sterilization procedures when receiving vessels arriving from affected countries, preparedness to meet the challenges of COVID-19, and the measures and solutions required to create a post COVID-19 business environment.
The workshop was conducted in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Yousif Abdullah Al Subah, General Manager of Kuwait Port Authority and President of the Arab Sea Ports Federation (ASPF), who emphasized the necessity of having continuous discussions and coordination among ASPF members especially in times of difficulty: “Maritime trade serves as a vital lifeline for the entire global economy. Our meeting today reminds all those within our sector that we must not only commit to delivering business continuity and upholding the health and safety of our seafarers, but we must endeavour to take a flexible and open approach towards future plans relevant to the situation.
“Forums that have the scope to facilitate experiential knowledge sharing and support quality operational improvements ultimately contribute to boosting intra-regional and international trade. We are confident that we have unlocked measures to ensure our industry is well positioned to take the correct course of action to overcome this emergency,” he added after the conclusion of the workshop.
Captain Mohamad Juma Al Shamisi, Group CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports and Vice Chairman of the Arab Sea Ports Federation, said, “The coming together of port operators from the region with the support of the Arab Sea Ports Federation embodies our region’s spirit of unity and cooperation in responding and acting to the pandemic.
“Navigating our maritime and logistics industries into a post-COVID-19 recovery phase requires a robust regional and international effort in underscoring our resources and planning and preparing for future growth.
“Although the crisis has produced a profound impact on our lives, economies and societies, implementing agile business continuity procedures in our ports has mitigated potential operational losses and has left us well placed to recover quickly.”
Abdulla Al Muharrami, Head of the Regional Office of Arab Sea Ports Federation - UAE, stated, “Abu Dhabi Ports has always been a fervent supporter of efforts to collaborate and activate the role of our regional office.
“We can take great pride in the success of Arab and Arabian Gulf port operators in sustaining business continuity in the face of unprecedented challenges.
“Our meeting today has borne fruit by allowing us to formulate a clear vision on the mechanisms required to overcome the crisis and providing a roadmap for growth in the post-pandemic era.”
Representing Abu Dhabi Ports, Captain Maktoum Al Houqani, Chief Corporate Authority Officer said, “Abu Dhabi Ports proudly joins hands with the region’s maritime operators in sharing knowledge on the best international practices that will enable us all to speedily overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.
“Our hosting of this Arab Sea Ports Federation workshop affirms Abu Dhabi Ports’ status as leading the effort to ensure ports in the Arabian Gulf work together to apply measures that best support regional port operations.
“By comprehensively sharing strategic knowledge regarding social distancing and sterilization best practices, as well as procedures concerning the movement of vessels, cargo and crew, our industry will be well positioned to consolidate and come back stronger than ever before.”
The hosting of the Arab Sea Ports Federation workshop is the latest effort by Abu Dhabi Ports in fighting COVID-19 following its ‘Horns of Hope’ solidary campaign which included the participation of many port operators from around the region and beyond.
The workshop program was structured according to collated responses from questionnaires sent to the respective Arabian Gulf port operators that highlighted key challenges faced by coronavirus together with a range of potential solutions.
The workshop concluded with a pledge among all participants to continue maintaining high levels of engagement and coordination for the duration of the crisis by providing all necessary services and support. The agreement included renewing a shared commitment to enable global trade continuity, adopting best practices (according to national standards of each member port), and implementing and adhering to the highest health and safety procedures.