In early April, I visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet with marine engineering companies as well as ports. The unanimous spirit of the business leaders in the UAE is clear; they want to attract foreign investment into the emirates, focusing especially on the attractive manufacturing sectors. This also includes convincing engineering companies to set up an office and plant in the emirates. This is a conscious move to divest business away from the oil and gas industry.
However, there is still plenty of work for international dredging companies in that sector, particularly those that have locations in the UAE. There are already a couple of the major European dredging companies that have a base in the Ras al Khaimah emirate situated in the north of the UAE.
The decision to have a business location there is likely to bear more fruit soon, as, in February, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company awarded a dredging, land reclamation and marine construction contract to UAE’s National Marine Dredging Company to build eleven islands to support the Ghasha sour gas field’s operation in future.
While the national dredging company said it will work with international companies to fulfil the contract, emphasis is given to award local companies with sub contracts. It is estimated that around 160 vessels and 3,000 workers are needed to build the islands within the next three years.
So, while the growth strategy of the UAE is two-fold, seeking for national and international business to pick up at the same time as well as attract workers and personnel to come to the emirates, businesses shouldn’t overlook that the UAE still struggles to enforce protection of its many thousand migrant workers and that political opponents face arbitrary punishment.
The UAE is therefore a country to be watched, not only for its politics, but also for potential opportunities for the dredging and port construction industry.
DPC will follow up on these developments in upcoming editions of the magazine.
Speaking of interesting projects, for our new question of the month, we want to hear about dredging projects that have set industry standards. Please submit your opinion via the methods on the right.
Question of the month April: What dredging project has established industry best practice? Deadline: 13 May 2019