Under a new government initiative to support marine crews in the UAE, seafarers will receive the same priority as the global frontline health workers. ‘Supporting our Blue Army scheme’ recognizes the importance of commercial sailors’ work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, this scheme intends to upgrade the living quality of international marine crew who travel through and port in UAE. The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, UAE, stated that improving seafarers’ welfare would impact the trade links with countries and also the ones who depend on the shipping industry.
Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure stated, ‘The UAE stands out as a strategic model in terms of robust and developed maritime transport sector. The Supporting our Blue Army initiative is an effort to recognize and appreciate the hard work of marine professionals. It will bring them at par on an equal footing with crucial sectors like healthcare and medical personnel. It is precisely in circumstances where the seafarers played a pivotal role to mitigate the distressing economic effects of COVID-19.’
The UAE links different shipping lines and acts as the logistics hub. It covers a significant number of ships- more than 21,000 vessels- that anchor on various ports of the UAE. The UAE ports handled around 17 million containers annually, and more than 20,000 local and international maritime companies operate in the country.
The lives of marine professionals are challenging as they have to face significant difficulties caused by factors like being stranded at sea due to travel restrictions, financial adversities, and the threat of hijack or conflicts at sea.
The UAE also passed a new Cabinet resolution that aims to improve marine life in violations and shipwrecks. It guarantees seafarers’ rights to all vessels with UAE flags and foreign-flagged vessels in ports and waters of UAE. Additionally, the seafarers will also receive material and moral support from UAE. It will include free medical treatment, Covid-19 vaccines and also replacement of crew members when required.
Sheikh Nasser Majid Al Qasimi, the assistant undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport Sector, stated, ‘We are highly confident that the Supporting our Blue Army initiative will significantly impact the globe. It is because of the enormous count of seafarers who port in UAE will get advantage from it. The UAE will stand out as a role model for ensuring the welfare and rights of the marine crew. Ships that violate seafarer rights will not gain a permit to enter the UAE waters. As such, they also will not remain a part of the regional trade centre, global supply chain and the logistics services.”