The United Arab Emirates signalled its big maritime ambitions in Greece last week during the world's most prestigious shipping event.
A total of 36 shipping industry players from the UAE showed off their highly diverse marine offering on the 35,000 sq. metre floor of Posidonia Exhibition in their effort to lure Greek shipowners and the global maritime community at large.
From state of the art satellite communications manufacturers to repair service and ship spare parts providers and from fuel and lubes suppliers to ship yards, port authorities and bunkers, companies from the three emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah looked the part and walked the talk as they flaunted their comprehensive offering in front of an all-time record Posidonia crowd, which was increased by a staggering 38 percent compared to the 2012 event.
"We feel that the Greek maritime environment is the ideal place for Dubai to promote its varied maritime sector services and products", said Nawfal Al Jourani, Communications Director of Dubai Maritime City Authority, a state-of-the-art maritime cluster catering to the sophisticated and discerning needs of shipping companies wishing to establish a hub in the iconic city.
"We provide a business-friendly environment with full infrastructure support, a comprehensive and favourable regulatory framework plus 100 percent foreign ownership for Greek and international shipowners," he added.
Some 160 Kms south from Dubai, the futuristic skyline of the capital city Abu Dhabi emerges from the desert which is fast replaced by an expansive urban sprawl. Following the 2012 launch of Khalifa Port, one of the world's most impressive deep water hubs with an offshore area over 2.7 square kilometres and a basin of 16.5 meters depth, Abu Dhabi's growing confidence in its ability to diversify its mainly oil-based economy is finding a new gateway through shipping.
According to Dr. Khaled Al Marzoui, CEO of Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding, their first ever participation at Posidonia aimed at finding potential partners.
"We are here to look for partners, to work together," he said.
"You cannot work alone, you have to work with other regions, with other companies," added Dr Al Marzoui.
The company, which specialises in the manufacturing, repair and retrofits of military and commercial ships, saw a visit at its Posidonia presentation by the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Greece, Sultan Mohammed Majed Al Ali, in a further testament of the importance the UAE attaches to shipping, which accounts for 4.6 per cent of the UAE's GDP and contributes 75,000 jobs.
And while Dubai and Abu Dhabi have much more to count on in terms of their economic growth, Fujairah is betting its prosperity on shipping and bunkering in particular.
The port city has invested heavily in developing infrastructure which enables private companies from the UAE and abroad to set up fuel and lubes bunkers servicing the world's fleet that navigate the straits of Hormuz, the most strategic strait of water on the planet.
Posidonia exhibitor ENOC, Dubai's national oil company, has invested significant funds in Fujairah's bunkering infrastructure boasting the port's biggest plant with a capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year which will expand to 350,000 tonnes by 2015.
Arif Ahmed El Mardi, ENOC's Manager Marketing and Direct Sales said this was the first time for ENOC to participate at any marine exhibition and they chose Posidonia because they wanted to showcase offering for marine in Fujairah which is the world's third largest for sale of lubricants.
"Our business is spread around the world and we want to expand our network by establishing our contacts and extend our supply network around Africa and other growth markets in Asia. Our presence in Greece will also help us get the technical know-how because marine is not just lubricants, it is about the overall solutions and we want to understand the business further," El Mardi said.
He said ENOC would conclude a major deal with Cyprus during Posidonia although no details were revealed.