The impact of a new virtual cluster on Dubai's maritime sector


Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), the body responsible for promoting, developing and regulating Dubai’s maritime sector, formally launched the Dubai Maritime Virtual Cluster (DMVC) in September 2018. The website aims to provide an interactive platform for knowledge sharing and research, in order to strengthen Dubai’s maritime community and showcase the portfolio of services available through DMCA, together with comprehensive information on Dubai’s maritime sector. As the DMCA’s executive director, Amer Ali, said to local press, “The DMVC forms part of our efforts to develop a diverse, competitive, inclusive and investor-friendly maritime cluster which can effectively contribute to the UAE’s preparations for a post-oil era.”

Structure & Aims

The DMVC is the virtual counterpart to Dubai Maritime City, which began construction in 2004, and the DMCA, which was established in 2007. The cluster also helps to fulfil broader strategies, as Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of DMCA, outlined in a statement: “DMVC will ultimately serve the goals of the Dubai Plan 2021, positioning it as one of the most important global hubs for business and investment.”

The portal provides a comprehensive overview of the government bodies involved in the maritime sector and the initiatives they are implementing. However, although the institutions and services are listed together with the most important information about them, they are yet to be linked, requiring interested users to find the respective websites themselves.

Nevertheless, the platform reflects the broad spectrum of maritime activities that take place in Dubai, containing overviews for key government bodies, including the DMCA, the Dubai Maritime Cluster Office, the maritime tourism website Sea Dubai and the Emirates Maritime Arbitrage Centre. Likewise, research and training establishments, such as the Dubai Maritime Training Centre and Innovation Quay, are represented. The site lists the various events that take place in Dubai, including the UAE Maritime Week, Dubai Maritime Summit, the UAE Maritime Leaders Summit and the Dubai Maritime Innovation Awards. These events are well established and gaining increasing importance in the maritime community as Dubai consolidates its position as a global maritime city, evidenced by its first ever top five ranking in the 2018 International Shipping Centre Development Index published by London-based Baltic Exchange and Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Digital Transition

The DMCA also delivered a new digital payment and services portal in 2018. As with initiatives in other sectors such as the Road and Transport Authority’s digital platform for paying registration and licence fees and driving fines, and the Real Estate Self Transaction portal which digitises all property transactions, the scheme aims to make the processing of transactions and queries more efficient. Through use of the portal, the DMCA hopes to reduce visits to its customer service centre by 80%. The platform allows users to access a wide range of services, among them crew licensing, craft registration, commercial licences and other administrative services, with the ability to track the progress of applications and queries online.

While the transition to digital services is an inevitable part of the modern world that all industries must evolve in, other elements of the maritime industry’s technology and research-related endeavours are the result of careful planning. Dubai’s 2012-17 Maritime Sector Strategy specifically identified areas in which the emirate needed to improve, so as to raise its overall profile and enhance its reputation as a global maritime sector. Among these were research and development, as well as education and interconnectivity between different parts of the industry. It is as a result of this strategy that the DMVC and establishments such as Innovation Quay were set up.


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The Report: Dubai 2019

Maritime chapter from The Report: Dubai 2019

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