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SMEM Set For 2008 Expansion

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

13 December 2006

After a record showing at its second biennial edition, Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) – the maritime industries forum – is set for further expansion in 2008, reflecting the strong growth forecast for the size of the fleet managed or controlled in the region.

Seatrade – the publishing and events house organising SMEM – revealed that it is currently evaluating future industry needs, and will expand its programme to ensure the regional sector stays ahead of the curve.

“We will monitor the expansion of the fleet, in each of the principal industry segments, when planning the 2008 programme. This will capitalise on the momentum built up in the general shipping, cruise and SuperYacht conference sessions this year,” explained Christopher Hayman, Managing Director, Seatrade.

More than 300 executives from 40 countries attended SMEM’s conference, addressed by over 60 leading international maritime experts.

“SMEM has evolved into one of the world’s fastest-growing maritime events and now ranks among the industry’s Top 10 largest. SMEM is the leading international forum in the region and, as the Middle East’s maritime industry develops, the event is set to evolve in tandem,” announced Hayman.

This bullish forecast for the event came at the close of SMEM 2006, which was the biggest yet, notching up record attendance. Approaching 6,000 trade participants attended from 63 countries, 45% of whom came from outside the region.

“SMEM 2008, which will run from 14-16 December, will be even bigger, following this year’s overall participation increase of some 30%,” Hayman predicted.

Dubai Maritime City, the purpose-built new development for the city’s maritime cluster that is rapidly taking shape on reclaimed land at the heart of the waterfront, exhibited with a giant scale model on display for the first time ever. SMEM visitors were also offered an opportunity to visit the site itself, to see how construction is progressing.

DP World, now the third largest ports operator in the world, with 51 terminals in 24 countries, was also a very active SMEM participant. Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem opened the exhibition and toured the floor, while group officials made several presentations in the conference. These outlined not only expansion projects overseas – as far afield as Vietnam, India, Turkey and Peru – but also progress closer to home where cargo volumes at Abu Dhabi Terminals have risen 20% and productivity 45% since DP World took over management.

Information on one of the most significant developments yet on the Gulf’s general maritime scene was announced during SMEM – the impending official formation of the UAE Shipowners Association.

President elect Sharafuddin Sharaf outlined the aims and structure of the new body at the Seatrade Dubai International Maritime Awards gala presentation dinner, on Monday 4 December.

Meanwhile, SMEM’s SuperYacht conference signalled massive growth in the Middle East’s profile, with huge expansion in marina infrastructure.

Erwin Bamps, Executive Manager, of Gulf Craft Inc announced that:

“SMEM was timely as we required a platform to share our concerns and thrash out a blueprint for the burgeoning SuperYacht industry. We were able to discuss fleet profile, demand growth for newbuildings, the charter market and SuperYacht financing."

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