Shipping is the most energy efficient means of transportation
The Middle East maritime sector is waking up to the need for greater fuel efficiency, which could lead to potentially huge reductions in shipping's carbon footprint, say leading industry observers.
"Shipping is the most energy efficient means of transportation," said Christopher Hayman, Managing Director of Seatrade, organisers of Seatrade Middle East Maritime 2008 - the region's leading maritime event.
"By moving more cargo from air or trucks to ships, overall carbon emissions can be reduced," he added.
"But globally, shipping produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to 4.5% of the world's total global warming."
Seatrade Middle East Maritime runs from 14-16 December at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
A mid-sized cargo ship consumes around 50 tonnes of fuel a day while big tankers can burn more than 300 tonnes a day.
"As a result, small gains in fuel efficiency can mean serious savings in both money and carbon emissions," Hayman said.
Like other industries globally, shipping is facing increasingly tough international challenges to achieve emission reductions. Det Norske Veritas, one of Seatrade Middle East Martime's principal sponsors, believe that carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by as much as 30-50% by actions taken on existing vessels now and for new buildings prior to 2030.
"Ideas being looked at to improve fuel consumption include redesigning propellers and hulls; paints that make ships less 'sticky' through the water; greater flexibility in shipping lanes to allow ships to by-pass storms rather than plough through them burning more fuel," Hayman added.
Fuel, emissions and green technology is one of the crucial areas to come under discussion at one of the high level conferences that will take place alongside Seatrade Middle East Maritime 2008.
The region is playing an increasingly important role in world shipping with the Arabian Gulf now one of the most active international maritime centres in the world. As well as being pivotal in global energy-related transport, economic growth across the region is driving record volumes of containers and increasing bulk cargo.
The conferences alongside Seatrade Middle East Maritime are designed to examine the implications of this upsurge both for the region and for trading partners around the world.
The Middle East Money and Ships conference (December 14-16) will examine the state of the industry across the region with a keynote address by General Sharafuddin Sharaf, President of the United Arab Emirates Ship Owners Association.
Other crucial topics to be debated will be energy and dry bulk transportation; shipbuilding and repair; finance for shipping; fuel, emissions and green technology; port construction and development; and the challenges of recruitment, training and retention of crews.
With more than 200,000 cruise passengers expected to visit Dubai this year, the sixth Seatrade Middle East Cruise Conference (15 December) will examine the growing importance of cruise tourism as more countries follow Dubai's lead. The potential for growth in ports and destinations throughout the region will be assessed.
In addition, with the Gulf region becoming one of the biggest concentrations of luxury private marine activity, there will also be a Superyacht Solutions Conference (16 December). The conference will assess the demand for superyachts across the region as well as current and future marina demand and availability.
The Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition and conferences are held every two years and have evolved into one of the world's fastest-growing maritime events, ranked among the industry's Top 10 largest.
In 2006 the event was the biggest yet notching up record attendance of 6,000 trade participants from 63 countries - 45% from outside the region.
In 2008, the organisers expect participation to increase by 30%.
Principal sponsors of Seatrade Middle East Maritime 2008 include GEM, Det Norske Veritas, Dubai Maritime City, NITC and Gulf Marine. Other sponsors are: ABS, BP Marine, ClassNK, Drydocks World, Emarat Maritime, Ince Al Jallaf & Co, Lloyd's Register, Nico International, Rais Hassan Saadi Group, SAIFEE Trading and Sea Cloud Cruises.
The event is supported by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, DP World, Dubai Shipping Agents Association, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the International Association of Ports and Harbours, the Nautical Institute, the Royal Institute of Naval Architects, ImarEST, and the UAE Ship Owners Association.