Middle EastOperations

Port agents targeted in latest UAE crew abandonment measures

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is shedding its reputation as a hotspot for crew abandonment with a series of measures introduced over the past 12 months aimed at completely stamping out the scourge.

The latest ruling from the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA), issued this week, means all ships – both local and foreign – calling at the Middle East nation must carry appropriate insurance cover for seafarer repatriation. A total of 25 insurers have been approved by UAE authorities.

The FTA warned in a three-page circular seen by Splash that ship’s agents must check this insurance is in place before taking on a vessel’s agency or else the agent will have to foot the bill of any abandonment case.

The UAE has worked hard to clampdown on abandoned crew of late, something it noted in the circular issued this week that has seen “remarkable results and the reduction in the number of seafarer abandonment cases”.

During much of the shipping downturn, the UAE became a dumping ground for distressed shipping assets, but in the past couple of years the authorities have taken a number of measures to improve the situation in local waters.

In May last year the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the FTA signed a groundbreaking memorandum of understanding to work together to protect the rights of all seafarers operating in UAE waters. The UAE has blacklisted many shipowners who have been found guilty of neglecting their crew in the past two years.

The UAE’s efforts have not gone unnoticed with many shipping charities applauding the Arab state’s efforts in interviews with Splash in recent months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This is great news and should be replicated around the word. I hope the ITF keeps the momentum up or this will just move to other ports where they feel the local authorities do not have the will and/or the capacity to address the matter. #No place to run, no place to hide!

  2. Bravo to the United Arab Emirates'(UAE) National Transportation Authority (NTA) on their collaborative responsible approach towards maritime regulations. Over the last three years the UAE’s FTA has led the region in addressing the policing of substandard shipping. Credit to the leadership and the young Emiratis, men and women, who are champions of the change. In the last twelve months the FTA, in collaboration with industry, has arrested the plague of seafarer abandonments in UAE waters. Well done to the experienced national mariners in the FTA.ActaNonVerba

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