UAE launches ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative for seafarers

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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The UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has launched the ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative to improve the quality of life for seafarers while they are in the UAE, in line with its commitment to adopting the best practices of the UAE Government Excellence System and launching initiatives that have global results.

The project will help sailors overcome the challenges they experience as a result of the epidemic and travel restrictions by protecting their rights with ship owners and operating companies.

The ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ project is a comprehensive framework for the Ministry’s achievements that implement the UAE Government Excellence System’s ‘Enhancing Wellbeing’ criterion. The Ministry has established specific programs to support and care for sailors. This will have a global impact on countries with trade connections that rely on the maritime industry and its unsung sailors.

Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei
Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei
Minister of Energy & Infrastructure

“When talking about the maritime transport sector, the UAE is a unique model. It ranks the 9th best global maritime hub and has some of the largest and most developed ports in the region in terms of infrastructure and digital systems. The ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative to be one of the first countries to recognize and appreciate marine crews and put them on an equal footing with priority categories such as medical personnel, especially in such circumstances where seafarers played a key role in mitigating the devastating effects on the global economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The UAE serves as a logistics center connecting global shipping lines with over 21,000 ships calling on the region’s ports each year. The UAE is home to over 20,000 local and international marine companies, with over 17 million containers passing through its ports annually. These operations generate major economic benefits for the country.

Mr. Al Mazrouei emphasized that the Ministry will not tolerate any shipowner or operating company that fails to perform its duties towards seafarers or abandons them on board ships on the UAE shores. The Ministry will take all proactive measures to ensure that the marine system in the UAE does not allow such violations of the rights of seafarers and crews.

The initiative is a broad framework that intends to create a national platform for government and private organizations, as well as to form partnerships with local and international NGOs that assist seafarers in order to improve their lives.

The program highlights the Ministry’s achievements in terms of safeguarding and supporting seafarers. The most notable of these achievements is helping to draft a Cabinet resolution on marine wrecks and violating ships, laws ensuring the protection of seafarers’ rights, and signing an agreement with the International Transport Workers’ Federation to enhance cooperation in supporting seafarers.

These efforts run in parallel with the UAE’s provision of material and moral support to seafarers, such as free medical treatment and COVID-19 vaccines and the UAE’s policy to allow crew replacement. Over 214,000 stranded sailors were aided in the replacement process and were able to return to their home countries.

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