Saudi Maritime Congress: A Catalyst for Global Maritime Advancements

In an event that witnessed the swift exchange of business cards and bustling networking, the Saudi Maritime Congress brought together thousands of industry leaders in Dammam. The fourth edition of this congress facilitated crucial deals, insightful debates, and extensive networking sessions, underscoring Saudi Arabia’s resolute commitment to becoming a prominent global logistics hub.

Spanning two days at the Dhahran Expo venue, this year’s conference centered on the maritime and logistics sector across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with a specific focus on aligning with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic diversification plan, Vision 2030.

The timing of the event was particularly significant, occurring just days before Saudi Arabia celebrated its 93rd National Day, a milestone that was frequently acknowledged with pride by various speakers throughout the conference.

Keynote addresses on the opening day were delivered by prominent figures in the industry, including Omar Hariri, the President of the Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani), and Ahmed Al-Subaey, the CEO of transportation and logistics giant Bahri.

Al-Subaey emphasized the pivotal role of the maritime and logistics sector in realizing Vision 2030 objectives, stating, “Bahri is committed to focusing on leveraging its accumulated experience for the sector’s development within the Kingdom and across the globe.”

Chris Morley, Group Director of Seatrade Maritime, the event’s organizer, highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts to enhance logistics infrastructure, with a significant impact on non-oil revenue. Morley mentioned, “By building out inland logistics hubs and enhancing rail connectivity, the Kingdom is looking to more than quadruple the country’s annual container throughput to 40 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) by 2030.”

Saudi Arabia currently hosts 53,000 ships registered in over 150 countries, carrying a staggering 11 billion tonnes of cargo annually. Morley pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s rising prominence on global connectivity indexes signifies its potential as a powerful partner for regional and global trade.

UAE-based Abdulla bin Damithan, CEO and Managing Director at DP World GCC, expressed his hopes for stronger ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the future. He emphasized the significance of technological advancements in the sector, noting the positive impact on job creation, especially for young nationals and women.

DP World, in partnership with Saudi Arabia, operates the South Container Terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port, with ambitious plans to double its capacity by 2024, transforming it into a global trade and logistical services hub.

The event witnessed the signing of agreements between major industry players. Bahri signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SAIL, a subsidiary of the Saudi Investment Recycling Co., to enhance their offerings in the Kingdom. This collaboration aims to facilitate maritime sector development, technical support, and knowledge exchange.

Mawani also signed a partnership agreement with SIRC to promote maritime sustainability in Saudi Arabia.

Supported by founding strategic partners Bahri and Seatrade Maritime, along with Mawani, the Transport General Authority, Saudi Aramco, and IMI, the Saudi Maritime Congress featured an exhibition with over 120 organizations representing various sectors of the maritime industry.

Last year’s event attracted a record 3,757 visitors, and this year’s edition is expected to maintain a similar level of participation.

Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade Maritime, highlighted Saudi Arabia’s increasingly active role in global maritime affairs. He mentioned the conference’s significance in addressing the accelerated pathway towards decarbonization agreed upon at the International Maritime Organization’s recent Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting.

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