Dubai’s dhow trade sees robust 12% growth
The Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows, established in July 2020 by Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC), facilitated the entry of more than 10,500 wooden dhows during 2022, reflecting a 12% year-on-year growth, announced Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of the PCFC.
Bin Sulayem noted that the wooden dhows ferried 1.7 million metric tonnes of merchandise from countries across the MENA region and beyond. The Marine Agency is working to enhance trade with neighbouring countries further and contribute to the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, he said.
The D33 agenda was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in early January 2023, setting an ambitious target of doubling the size of Dubai’s economy over the next decade and consolidating its position among top three global cities.
Bin Sulayem credited the PCFC’s efforts and the Marine Agency’s initiatives for faster entry and exit procedures for wooden ships in Dubai, resulting in increased trade volume. He said that these ships used to take 40 days to load cargo but now take just 3-5 days. This efficiency has boosted the number of dhow movements from 9,000 in 2021 to over 10,500 in 2022, consolidating Dubai’s position on the global dhow trade map.
The Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows is exclusively responsible for regulating the activity of wooden dhows in Dubai waters. Bin Sulayem added that Dubai’s three wharfages – Dubai Creek, Deira Harbour and Al Hamriyah Port – play a key role in making the emirate a regional hub for dhows.
The Agency coordinates with other government entities to manage all aspects of maritime safety of wooden ships and safeguard the rights and interests of seafarers working on them. It provides several commercial options for the vessels, such as facilitating long-term contracts for their services and protecting their merchandise from damage during loading and unloading operations at Dubai ports.
Mahmood Amin Khoury, Executive Director of the Marine Agency, highlighted the efforts of the Marine Agency to streamline entry procedures and improve facilities for merchants and their dhows. He said that the Agency aims to expedite wooden dhow operations to enable them to undertake multiple trips per month instead of one. “The Agency managed to slash waiting times for departures from 8-10 hours to just 30 minutes for sailing outside the emirate, boosting the number of trips,” he said.
Khoury added: “Merchants now have easy access to handle goods on and off ships with all necessary facilities provided for smooth operations 72 hours before arrival. The Marine Agency reserves the dock and informs sailors to prepare for export/import.”
Khoury discussed the PCFC and the Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows’ efforts to keep up with Dubai’s growth and enhance its position as a prime hub for wooden dhow trade. The Agency helped develop the business of wooden dhow owners and merchants by reducing clearance time, providing a unified entity to deal with, offering multiple commercial solutions, ensuring the security of goods and protecting them during unloading and loading at Dubai ports.
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