Finance Conference Points the Way Forward for Shipping and Trade

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The second The Maritime Standard Ship Finance and Trade Conference, held in Abu Dhabi at the Sheraton Hotel and Resort, took full advantage of a stellar panel of speakers to chart a course for the future of the shipping and maritime sectors at an uncertain time politically and economically in world markets.

Conference chairman, Clive Woodbridge, editor of The Maritime Standard, said, “This Conference takes place at an interesting moment, with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, and the vote for Brexit in the UK.  The old order is changing and that makes this event so well timed.  It is a chance to begin discussions about how the shipping and finance sectors respond to these seismic shifts.”

The Conference was hosted by Abu Dhabi Ports. Endorsing the event was chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports, Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, who commented “Our participation and hosting of the Maritime Standard Ship Finance and Trade Conference in Abu Dhabi for the second consecutive year is testament to our commitment to finding solutions for sustained growth and development.  We are confident this event will serve as a platform that connects key players and decision makers together and create rewarding opportunities.”

Two influential personalities H.E. Dr. Abdullah Salem Alkatheeri, director general, Federal Transport Authority- Land and Maritime, and Capt. Abdulkareem Al Masabi, acting executive vice president – ports unit, Abu Dhabi Ports, gave the keynote addresses.  Both struck an upbeat and optimistic note, highlighting the importance of the shipping and ports sector to the UAE, in general, and Abu Dhabi in particular, despite the uncertainties in the market.  Both praised the organisers, The Maritime Standard, for their innovation and professionalism in bringing so many experts to Abu Dhabi to share their accumulated knowledge.

The chairman of Kuwait Oil Tanker Company, H.E. Sheikh Talal Al Khaled Al Sabah, was then invited on stage for a special presentation commemorating his attendance.

This was followed by a session looking at the changing global politico-economic environment, assessing the main challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.  Once again the conference heard from some leading personalities with many years of experience, including Ali Shehab, deputy chief executive of the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company; Khamis Juma Buamim, managing director and group chief executive of Gulf Navigation; Eng. Yasser Zaghloul, chief executive of National Marine Dredging Company; Eng. Rashed Al Hebsi, chief executive of Emirates Classification (TASNEEF) and Andrew Baird of Watson, Farley and Williams.

The conference audience was then treated to an Up Close session with well-known banker and financier Sanjay Mehta, of S One Capital who has over 25 years’ experience in fund management, investment banking and structuring mergers and acquisitions.  In a one on one interview on stage with Clive Woodbridge, Sanjay Mehta gave some intriguing insights into his vision of how shipping and trade will evolve over the coming years, including an optimistic assessment of the product tanker market.  “We like this market very much,” he said.

The afternoon sessions looking at developing strategies, and the right financial tools to meet the needs of challenging market condition, were also wide ranging and stimulating.  There was plenty of discussion, triggered by excellent presentations from eminent speakers from the fields of ports, shipping, ship management, law, banking and finance.  There was a general concensus that the banking and finance sectors need to work closely together and that Islamic Finance, while not a panacea for all, has a key role to play.

Trevor Pereira, managing director of The Maritime Standard, said, “This was a really unique event that brought together some of the most original thinkers and strategists from across the maritime sector under one roof.  We successfully built on the success of the inaugural conference last year and I am sure everyone who attended went back to their day jobs with fresh ideas and enthusiasm to tackle the challenges that lie before them.”

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