The marine industry plays an important role in economic growth across the globe, and the Middle East is no exception. The maritime sector drives economic development in the region through job creation and supporting several industries, including marine vessel building and maintenance, offshore exploration, logistics, and various other coastal construction projects and development opportunities.
The marine industry contributes a staggering US$24.5 billion to the GDP of the UAE (US$415 billion, which means the industry makes up nearly 6% of the total figure). In this perspective article, we unpack why the Middle East has become a popular investment destination and how the maritime industry contributes to its growth and development.
The Lucrative Investment Potential Of The Middle East’s Maritime Sector
The region has vast coastal areas, access to highly strategic shipping routes, and an abundance of natural resources like oil and valuable minerals. All of these factors contribute to making the Middle East a bustling maritime hub and has allowed it to emerge as a prominent figure in the industry. Each sector below contributes to economic growth, making the region more lucrative for potential investors.
- Natural resources
The region is rich in natural resources such as petrochemicals (oil and natural gas), metals (copper), and minerals (phosphates, gypsum, and silica). These resources have a wide variety of applications and represent a prosperous industry unto themselves. Tapping into these resources requires significant domestic and foreign investment, which can help establish the Middle East as a commodity hub.
The shipping and transportation of goods is a major pillar of the industry, as it supports every other aspect of the marine economy. The region has strategic access to major shipping routes and serves as a connecting point between East and West. Capturing a share of the Middle Eastern logistics market can thus be a highly profitable venture.
The region attracts millions of tourists annually (8.08 million for UAE and 4.88 million for Saudi Arabia alone), all of whom are eager to spend their money on new and authentic experiences. Boating and yachting make up the most popular recreational activities, but diving and watersports are not far behind. The yachting industry in the Middle East alone will be worth more than US$1.2 billion by the year 2025. The right kind of investments will only serve to accelerate growth in this market.
- Infrastructure Development
Dependable infrastructure is necessary for the survival of the entire industry. While new construction developments can help expand the industry by utilising the vast undeveloped areas along the coastline, it is also important to invest in the maintenance and upgrading of existing infrastructure to enhance its usability and to help meet the demands of the rapidly expanding industry. An example of this is the US$1.1 billion expansion of the Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, which will allow the port to accommodate much higher sea traffic volumes, which in turn will support all the industries mentioned above and Dubai International Boat Show’s new home of Dubai Harbour, the largest superyacht marina in the Middle East.
An Industry That Continues To Thrive
Most countries and governments in the Middle East have launched major reinvestment initiatives and infrastructure expansions to take advantage of the marine industry’s vast potential. Countries like UAE, Bahrain, and Oman have also committed to easing legislation around maritime permits and to streamline application processes. The removal of bureaucratic red tape and the complete digitisation and automation of the industry is ensuring faster turnaround times, which will ensure the longevity of the region’s economic success.
Superyachts are in high demand in the region, with exhibitors at the Dubai International Boat Show reporting that the five-day event is attracting buyers worldwide.
New launches and exciting concepts evidenced this growth period, as more than 44 global and regional launches are expected to take place throughout the week, while more than 1,000 of the biggest names and brands in the marine industry are showcasing their latest innovations.Visit the Dubai International Boat Show, the premier marine show in the Middle East, to witness the latest and greatest in the industry and seize the chance to find lucrative investment opportunities.