As a special to Piracy Daily, Andrew Moulder discusses the international importance of the United Arab Emirates as a vital gateway for emerging markets and the importance of sophisticated counter-piracy efforts.
The role of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the far most important regional hub for East-West ship transport offers a critical demonstration of both the scope and the need for sophistication of counter-piracy enforcement in the Gulfs of Aden and Oman. At least half of the global trading fleet of tankers passes UAE shores twice annually.
The UAE’s strategic location between the longitudes of East and West, together with its stability and infrastructure, has already made it both a global commerce hub and a vital gateway — or as the Shanghai Daily dubbed it recently, “a New Silk Road” — for emerging markets.
Not only is the UAE today the world’s third-largest re-export market; it is also the top shipping and port country in the Middle East and North Africa, of particular importance in securing maritime travel between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Smaller ships from the region, some regularly journeying as far as Far Eastern Asian ports, come to Dubai and other UAE ports to transfer their goods to mega-vessels en route to Europe and the eastern coast of the United States.
In returning to places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, many of these vessels come loaded with cargo transferred at facilities already recognized as sustained growth catalysts, public and private institutions that have won for the UAE the title of a leading trade and logistics hub, reflecting its top ranking in terms of logistics infrastructure and the superior coordination of value-added services.
With world-class port and logistics infrastructure, the UAE is understandably landing bulging trade levels from emerging markets, including those of China, India, Russia and Brazil, believed to be positioned to become, in less than four decades, four of the five top economies in the world. Small wonder that with its complex global shipping industry, the UAE is high on World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, providing among other things essential services to regional ports in places like Cochin, Mumbai, Sri Lanka and Toamasina, each with their own relationships to sister deep-water ports in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
Dubai is one of the leading cities in the world that are setting records for global commercial importance, as well as a tourist paradise. It is not only a major business platform that is increasingly sought out by traders around the world, a business destination attracting the widest range of exports, imports and services from major European and other Western countries. It is also the beneficiary of a strong oil market that creates even greater economic progress, itself the engine of a soaring demand for reliable shipping services.
A large part of the credit for all this is due to United Arab Emirates Shipping Association’s hard work in promoting the development and expansion of supplier-buyer partnerships; the inauguration of the new Khalifa port and the construction of a series of new cruise liner terminals, the latter to promote tourism.
Which brings us back to the issue of counter-piracy. Looking at the UAE from a security perspective shows that, even as great progress has been made in the last couple of years, the country, its people, and the resources it shares with the rest of the world make it what Piracy Daily Editor Martin Edwin Andersen notes is “an island of calm in a still turbulent sea.”
Unfortunately, the private maritime security company community remains as a group a motley crew, some well ahead on best practices that fit snugly into the new reality offered by the UAE to its own clients. Others, too many, still seek to increase their share of the market with proclamations, claims and even the invocation of misunderstood history that keep them competitive only at the risk of the greater good.
Just as key business concepts such as qualitative research, concept testing, volumetric modeling, market test results and far-reaching risk and contingency plans have literally put the UAE back on the map today and for the future, it is important that such ideas become the bedrock of PMSCs seeking to carve out their share in such a dynamic market.
As the senior analyst at AdvanFort’s Threat Analysis Center, Andrew Moulder, a former armed crime/piracy analyst for the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), heads the company’s research department.