The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport Branch in Sharjah (AASTS) has discussed prospects for cooperation and collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. This includes employing AASTS’ capabilities and the expertise of its staff to protect the environment and curb marine activities that are causing climate change. Cooperation also includes protecting and maintaining the ecological balance in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which the UAE overlooks. The move supports AASTS’ vision to protect the marine environment, enhance marine food resources and fish wealth, as well as provide research and development services.
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE, and H.E. Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Faraj, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, were a part of the discussions.
Prospects for cooperation cover several areas including education and training, specialised research for developing the marine environment and protecting fish wealth, enhancing the electronic capabilities, and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data to develop marine food resources and combat the effects of pollution and harmful emissions.
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE said: “Protecting the environment, preserving its natural resources and ensuring the sustainability of its biodiversity is a strategic priority for the UAE and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Therefore, efforts are being made through an integrated legislative framework that is constantly being developed and modernized. Our primary goal is to launch several projects, programs and initiatives that strengthen partnerships with the society and all the stakeholders, helping us achieve the highest levels of protection to ensure a better future for current and future generations and setting an example for others to follow.”
His Excellency added: “The marine environment holds a prominent position in the UAE’s strategic agenda, due to its importance to the economy and the society. Therefore, we undertake varied efforts to strengthen the blue economy. In addition, we have launched initiatives to preserve and enhance natural habitats and achieve sustainable fisheries.”
His Excellency indicated that as part of the ministry’s strategy to strengthen partnerships with government and private entities involved in the marine environment sector, the government is working to enhance the scientific, knowledge and research aspect through agreements and partnerships with specialized institutions in the field, such as the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Sharjah and all its branches in the Arab world. The Academy’s long and extensive experience in the field and its goal of finding innovative solutions to protect the marine environment, preserve natural habitats and ensure the sustainability of its biodiversity will play a significant role in supporting our mission.
Developing economic capabilities
Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Faraj, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport said: “As an organisation associated with the League of Arab States, we are mandated to build partnerships that develop the economic capabilities of all Arab countries, while also protecting the marine environment so that it is preserved for generations to come. Our relationship with the UAE is special. We have received unlimited support from the leadership and decision-makers of the country to protect the marine environment and ensure that the maritime sector adheres to all international standards that are in place to address the issue of climate change. The Academy’s branch in Sharjah, which is the largest of all our branches, and is comparable in size and capabilities to our headquarters in Alexandria considers this mission as one of its top priorities.”
Abdel Ghaffar added: “Our partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will make the Academy the maritime academic arm that serves the UAE’s agenda in protecting the marine environment and developing its natural wealth and fish resources. This will also help in developing the Academy’s other branches, considering that the UAE is listed among the thriving economies in the region. We will contribute to improving and developing the best marine environmental practices and provide support in terms of advisory and scientific studies for various applications and specialisations, ensuring that our actions have a positive impact on the global maritime industry.”
Artificial intelligence to protect the marine environment
Commenting on the cooperation between the Academy and the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in education and training, Dr. Ahmed Youssef, Associate Dean of the Maritime Transport Technology College, AASTS said: “The UAE has made great strides in digitalising its infrastructure and marine operations, as well as manufacturing smart ships. The UAE’s ports are the most automated worldwide, and its shipping companies have state-of-the-art digital platforms. We can say that the UAE’s digital capabilities compare to the biggest programming and e-solution companies and even outperform them with their practical applications. We are equipped with all the necessary infrastructure to devise and employ artificial intelligence and big data predictive analytics to build pioneering applications to protect the UAE’s marine environment and take proactive and preventive measures to combat climate change. On the other hand, the UAE needs to train and prepare Emiratis to benefit from these modern technologies and develop more smart solutions and applications, so that the country can retain its status as an incubator for innovation and the digital economy.”
Commenting on the cooperation between the Academy and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in the field of training and rehabilitation, Yousef explained: “The UAE’s wise leadership attaches great importance to protecting the environment and preserving its natural resources, especially water. Therefore, protecting the marine environment and keeping its waters free from pollution is one of the biggest challenges besides developing and having the latest water desalination technologies that are cost-efficient and use clean energy and sustainable resources. These are also among our top priorities as an institution entrusted by the League of Arab States to protect the water and marine food security for all Arab countries.”
He added: “We will focus on building, operating and ensuring the quality and sustainability of fishing vessels. We will also provide marine education and training for the crew and provide training and technical advice on the inspection of ships to ensure their suitability for sailing in accordance with international standards. This includes using fishing nets and tools that are not harmful to the environment or rare species and aquatic wildlife and ensuring no overfishing is done, as it threatens fish during the breeding seasons. We will use artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to build a smart and advanced system of sensors that monitor all the indicators necessary to get an integrated and accurate picture of the state of the marine environment in the UAE. This will support the development of the blue economy and sustainability, which are the foundations for achieving prosperity and development for future generations.”
The two sides affirmed their commitment to launch a comprehensive awareness and marketing campaign to promote awareness, especially among the younger generation about the importance of preserving the marine environment. The entities also hope to enlighten people about the unlimited investment opportunities in developing marine food resources and fisheries, supporting the UAE’s food security strategy. The UAE has an environmentally and climatically diverse coastline, which is home to a variety of aquatic life, making it ideal for investment projects in this field. Moreover, the seas hold great importance in the country as 21,000 commercial ships visit the UAE ports annually. This makes it imperative to devise ways through which pollution of the marine environment for continued success in this sphere.
The awareness campaign will target the youth with comprehensive public relations campaigns in coordination with local and international maritime organisations. It will also address the public in several languages to achieve a wider global reach.