The United Arab Emirates is on its way to become the most important maritime hub between Europe and the Eastern world. Its strategically convenient location enables countless companies to successfully collaborate on an international level. Owing to a successful discovery of oil in the sixties, the United Arab Emirates skyrocketed in terms of wealth and popularity and was put on the global map as a country to be reckoned with. Prior to oil discovery, the UAE had thrived on its pearl industry, which soon languished due to cultured pearls invented by the Japanese.
The UAE covers more than 600km in length and stretches along the southern coastline of Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman making it a perfect location for import and export of goods to the rest of the world over the sea routes. Bearing in mind that oil would eventually run out, the leaders of the UAE have actively been developing the transport by sea sector all these years. Jebel Ali Port which was completed in 1979 has been the beacon of this development and transportation at world’s level for the past 35 years. It boats the high- end electronic containers’ handling system allowing for port’s capacity expansion for up to 19 million containers per year. Currently, the Jebel Ali port connects to more than 180 shipping channels and over 100 foreign ports worldwide. Nowadays, the Jebel Ali Port has its own free zone JAFZA which allows for countless new companies to set foot in UAE and expand their businesses. JAFZA has now more than 7000 companies registered and serves as a well situated base for thousands of others.
Abu Dhabi is not far behind and has invested billions of dollars to expand and further develop their Khalifa Port, which was established in 2012 as well as other marine and other transportation facilities. The port connects to more than 40 ports worldwide. Abu Dhabi’s old port, Al Mina, was reestablished as a tourist cruise terminal, thereby expanding the tourism sector. As for other key players in the marine transportation sector, Port Rashid and Dubai Creek are currently being reconstructed. Other ports in the adjacent Emirate of Sharjah are also known as gateways to the UAE, due to their strategically perfect location connecting to both UAE coasts.
All these endeavors in the maritime transportation sector have been and continue to be made in order to decrease the dependence on oil and focus on transport and tourism sectors, thus attracting more business and visitors to UAE. That kind of development has resulted in just 30% of UAE’s GDP coming from oil sector. Abu Dhabi on the other hand is not as active in diversifying its investment in other sectors as Dubai, because of substantial oil reserves. However, Abu Dhabi also aims to achieve non-oil 80% of its GDP by 2030 developing its own various sectors – production, marine and other transportation, service and hospitality industry as well as other sectors of economy .