Global maritime leaders participate in a CEO Forum to discuss key industry challenges and opportunities

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Recently, In a CEO Forum focussing on the ‘Challenges and Future Opportunities for Ports and Shipping in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),’ Shahab Al Jassmi, Commercial Director of Ports and Terminals, DP World-UAE Region discussed at length about the prevailing roadblocks in business operations due to global crisis and important strategies to overcome the current challenges.

The forum was organised recently with a motive of uniting industry leaders who willingly shared insights on the hurdles faced due to the current COVID crisis and elaborated on favourable opportunities in the region.

Sheikh Yousef Al Abdullah Al Sabah Al Nasser Al Sabah, Director-General, Kuwait Ports Authority and President of Arab Sea Ports Federation, Kuwait; Susan Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, APM Terminals Bahrain; Lars Meurling, Vice President Marketing, Bromma, Sweden; Mark Geilenkirchen, Chief Executive Officer, Sohar Port and Freezone, Sultanate of Oman and Anupam Asthan, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Gulftainer, UAE; were also a part of the forum.

Focussing on the importance of embracing digital models of business to enhance the supply chain, Al Jassmi said, “Since the onset of COVID-19, DP World, UAE Region has been committed to facilitating an uninterrupted flow of medical supplies and essential goods. To ensure trade flow amid a deteriorating market, the company also introduced key digital initiatives with a focus on prudent cost management, better productivity, asset utilisation and automation processes.”

“Initiatives such as Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) Customer Support, in addition to other measures like flexible monthly rental payments, deferred payments and choice of leasing warehouses on a short-term basis, have complemented the government’s strategy, boosting the maritime sector in the UAE and the Middle East region,” he added.

Sheikh Yousef Al Abdullah also commented, “The CEO Forum was a great platform to interact with peers and review strategies to enhance the economy and maritime transport sector in the GCC region. I believe that by supporting each other, we can rise above all adversity. Businesses have to adapt to the current economic environment and evaluate their processes to continue to generate revenue for the nation. It’s time for us to move away from old ways and adopt improved strategies to sustain in this new world.”

He continued, “Evaluating the situation, I think that automation is definitely the key as it not only increases efficiency, but it also reduces costs after the initial investment. The global pandemic has severely affected businesses around the world. The maritime industry too has experienced a major downturn.”

Agreeing, Shahab Al Jassmi stated, “It is important for the maritime community to come together and formulate means to eliminate threats to the business. We were delighted to be a part of the Transport Events Limited CEO Forum. Events like these reflect the region’s spirit of unity and cooperation in responding to the economic upheaval. Over the last few months, we have realised the importance of having strategic foresight.”

He added, “Such unprecedented situations test the calibre of all businesses. For us at DP World, UAE Region safeguarding business continuity, while protecting our employees from the risk of the virus was a top priority. Additionally, our sustained investments in digital technology and automation made operations highly resilient.”

Susan Hunter also commented, “The maritime sector is the lifeline of economies around the world. The CEO Forum facilitated experiential knowledge sharing, contributing to boosting regional and international trade. Despite the crisis, a detailed plan of action is essential for the growth of the business. Delivering business continuity and upholding the health and safety of our employees is vital. As a community, we must endeavour to devise a flexible and open approach and be prepared for future challenges.”

Hunter addeed, “We at APM Terminals are taking all the necessary precautions in order to sustain trade flow.” CEO Forum hosted top-management panellists from ports and terminals in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. The virtual event offered a platform for professionals to network and helped them build a valuable contact base. Discussions included various topics, ranging from business setbacks to new developments in the field.”

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