In conjunction with the Day of the Seafarer, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has launched ‘Salmeen,’ an initiative that aims to provide care to provide seafarers and those working in the maritime sector with comfort and safety. The initiative aims to cater to the seafarers needs, as they are one of the most important pillars of the maritime industry. ‘Salmeen’ contributes to enhancing the quality of life for seafarers and overcoming the challenges they face due to the pandemic and travel restrictions.

The UAE is a key logistics hub. It connects global shipping lines, and receives the largest number of ships heading to the region’s ports with over 21,000 ships annually. More than 27,000 local and international maritime companies work in the UAE with more than 17 million containers handled at the UAE ports each year. These achievements would not have been possible without the dedication of thousands of seafarers who arrive in the UAE waters on ships from all over the world.

Therefore, the initiative presents a comprehensive framework that includes all the Ministry’s achievements to improve the quality of life, within the UAE Government excellence system to care for and support seafarers. The impact extends beyond the UAE, to the whole world that is linked by the global trade based on the shipping sector and its heroes of seafarers.

Commenting on the initiative, H.E Eng. Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the UAE, said: “When we talk about the shipping sector in the UAE, we must recognise the influential role the UAE plays in the global maritime sector. The UAE is one of the best maritime hubs globally. Therefore; we introduce initiatives, laws and legislations that can develop the sector based on best practices, while taking care of the seafarers’ community who are key pillars of this industry, to help them overcome the challenges they face while performing their work. Launching the ‘Salmeen’ initiative in conjunction with the Day of Seafarers confirms our continuous support for seafarers and reflects our firm belief in the active role they play towards strengthening the role of the UAE as an unparalleled global maritime hub.

Al Mazrouei added, “Salmeen also strengthens the UAE’s position as one of the top countries in protecting the rights of seafarers, especially in such circumstances in which they played a prominent role in facing the impact of the pandemic on the global economy. Because of our role in the Ministry and our responsibility to put in place legislations and laws related to in the maritime sector, whilst we ensure compliance and implementation of these laws, we made sure that our legal system serves seafarers who significantly contribute to achieving the economic development of the UAE. The most recent of these achievements was the Cabinet’s decision regarding marine debris and violating ships, which obliges all ships carrying the UAE flag or sailing in its waters to ensure the rights of seafarers and provide their requirements.

Supporting seafarers is a major goal

The key pillars of the initiative aim to open the door for seafarers to get the support they need. This includes the best medical care, maritime education, training to build professional capabilities, as well as identifying and removing physical and social obstacles through effective cooperation between the public and private sectors. This promotes the idea of empowering ‘Our Blue Army’, which aims to enhance the impact of qualified seafarers in the industry, to inspire the younger generations.

H.E Eng. Hassan Mohamed Juma Al Mansouri, Undersecretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs, said: ”Seafarers are the backbone of our industry as they connect the world via the sea. Therefore, the UAE has taken proactive measures to protect their interests and improve their quality of life. The UAE is also one of the first member states of the International Maritime Organization to classify seafarers as priority workers during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and provided them with support by facilitating safe crew change and safely sending them to their home countries, as well as providing medical treatment and COVID-19 vaccines. We recently honored the Mission to Seafarers in the Middle East & South Asia, a charity group that helps and supports seafarers in emergencies. We are fully aware of our vital role towards the maritime transport sector and the shipping industry in general, and seafarers in particular.

The Salmeen initiative will make all ship owners and maritime organisations responsible for supporting seafarers and providing them with full protection. The Ministry has in place an ongoing monitoring system to ensure the implementation of the laws and initiatives and turn them into results. Seafarers work around the clock to support business continuity and facilitate seaborne trade in the UAE. The initiative recognises their dedication to work under all circumstances.

H.E Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, added: ”Seafarers are considered frontline workers in the maritime sector, and one of the pillars of the industry that constitutes an added economic value to the Gross National Product. The Ministry has made significant achievements in protecting and supporting seafarers. One of these achievements was contributing to the issuance of Cabinet resolution regarding marine debris and violating ships, and announcing the regulations that protect seafarers’ rights. Additionally, we have signed an agreement with the International Federation of Transport Workers to enhance cooperation in terms of supporting seafarers. This coincided with providing all forms of physical and moral support for them in the UAE, as well as free medical treatments and Covid-19 vaccines. Moreover, the UAE was one of the first countries to allow crew changes during the peak of the pandemic. It facilitated the safe exchange of more than 240,000 seafarers who were assisted to return to their home countries safely. We will always work to support the seafarers who are our “blue army” and the backbone of global trade.”

Source: Hellenic Shipping News