The Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport branch in Sharjah (AASTS) has signed a partnership agreement with the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure to utilise AASTS’ capabilities and the expertise of its staff to serve and develop the UAE’s maritime sector. The agreement supports AASTS’ vision to enhance the Arab maritime sector by preparing the nation’s youth to be competent industry professionals, while also providing research and development services. The move also supports AASTS’ mission to cement the UAE’s position as a leading global maritime hub.
The agreement was signed by H.E. Hassan Mohammed Juma Al Mansouri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure in the UAE and H.E. Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Faraj, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.
H.E. Hassan Mohammed Juma Al Mansouri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure in the UAE, said: “In the UAE, we are determined to be ‘Number One’ in all areas and aim to become a unique example in sustainable development, ensuring the prosperity and wellbeing of the current and future generations in the post-oil era. This is the essence of the UAE’s strategy as we prepare for the next fifty years. The maritime economy and the maritime sector are key pillars to achieve this vision. Over 20,000 maritime establishments and companies operate in the UAE. This figure is the largest in the region. Our ports receive over 12 million containers annually, supporting the economic growth in the UAE and other GCC countries. Thus, boosting maritime investments, which are valued at USD 65 billion, annually.”
Al Mansouri added: “This vision cannot be achieved without qualified and creative professionals, who are capable of using this opportunity to build on the achievements our founding fathers, under the flag of the Union. Our leaders transformed challenges into success and unparalleled prosperity and our partnership with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport support this vision. As one of the region’s most prominent academic institutions, it is the Academy’s mission to aid the growth of the Arab region. It plays an important role in setting a benchmark in the education and training sector and providing Arab countries with competencies and expertise in scientific research, consultancy and academic studies in the maritime sector.”
Enhancing the economic capabilities
H.E. Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Farag, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport emphasised: “As an organisation associated with the Arab League, we are mandated to build partnerships that develop the economic capabilities of all Arab countries. However, our relationship with the UAE is a special one. We have received unlimited support from the UAE’s leadership to empower and develop the maritime sector. This has been evident since the establishment of the Academy’s branch in Sharjah, which is the largest of all our branches and is comparable in size and capabilities to our headquarters in Alexandria. Generous scholarships and state-of-the-art facilities that have been allocated to the Academy in Sharjah make it on a par with some of the best international universities and maritime academies.”
Abdel Ghaffar added: “Our partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, which includes the Ministry’s accreditation of our training and academic programmes, will make the Academy the maritime academic arm that serves the UAE’s maritime agenda and contributes to implementing the country’s strategic plans. This will also help in the development of the other branches of the Academy, considering that the UAE is one of the leading global maritime hubs. We will strive continually to improve and develop the best maritime practices and provide advisory and scientific studies for several applications and specialisations that will impact the global maritime industry as a whole.”
Enabling a digital era
Prof. Dr. Hossam Shawky, Acting Director of the Academy's Branch in Sharjah highlighted: “The UAE has made great strides in digitalising its maritime infrastructure. Its ports are listed among some of the most technologically advance worldwide. Most shipping companies here are equipped with state-of-the-art digital platforms. We can say that the UAE’s digital capabilities are on par with some of the biggest programming and e-solution companies and even outperform them with their practical applications. As the demand for technology-enabled solutions is increasing with the changing times, there is an urgent need to provide the maritime sector with young cybersecurity experts to enhance the protection of digital maritime assets. This will foster the UAE’s leading status, making it a global provider of a vital service whose demand is increasing rapidly.”
Shawky added: “We were keen to include a clause in the agreement concerning the launch of a comprehensive awareness and marketing campaign to attract prospective students in maritime specialisations. We aim to create awareness among all members of the society about the importance of the maritime sector, also emphasising the critical role of Emirati seamen. Their families too are proud to associate themselves with maritime professions. This endeavour will ensure that the younger generations are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers, who left behind a rich legacy that extended from East Africa to the farthest islands of the China Sea.”
The awareness campaign will target young people with comprehensive public relations campaigns in coordination with local and international maritime organisations. It will also address the public in several languages to achieve a wider reach.
Developing maritime training
Commenting on the cooperation between the Academy and the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure in maritime education and training, Dr. Captain Ahmed Youssef, Associate Dean of the Maritime Transport Technology College, AASTS clarified: “Maritime education is different from other theoretical specialisations as it totally depends on the practical aspect. This is the biggest challenge several maritime academies around the globe face considering the high costs of training vessels. This agreement is especially valuable as the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure will provide full support to facilitate the training of our students on ships operating in the UAE. This will give the Academy a competitive edge, making our national graduates better qualified as they will be equipped with hands-on experience of working on ships of various types and sizes."
Apart from its other achievements, AASTS is also known for having the highest percentage of female students among maritime academies in the Middle East and North Africa. Enrolled female students account for more than 43 per cent of the total number of students. This supports the UAE’s strategy to empower women in the maritime sector, and benefit from their capabilities and creativity to further develop this sector. The need for women empowerment is emphasised in the agreement too and is a topmost priority for the Ministry.