The Sharjah branch of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) has commenced talks which it hopes will lead to formal collaboration with the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime (FTA). This intention of the planned joint working is to utilise the Academy’s capabilities and in particular the expertise of its staff to further develop the UAE’s maritime sector.
The move follows a meeting attended by H.E. Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Farag, AASTMT President, and H.E. Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Executive Director of Maritime Transport at FTA. Also present were Dr. Ahmed Youssef, Associate Dean of Maritime Transport and Technology College; Dr. Aysha Al Busmait, IMO Goodwill Ambassador and Corporate Communications Director at FTA; and Captain Abdullah Al Hayas, Director of Maritime Affairs Department, FTA.
The two sides discussed cooperation in various areas, including education and training; conducting specialised research to develop the shipping, ports and logistics services; and developing training in maritime electronic capabilities and cybersecurity for shipping and maritime operations and ports. They also discussed cooperation in other key areas, such as promoting the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deal with oil pollution, the sustainability of ports, the blue economy and maritime financing, in addition to providing technical support.
H.E. Dr. Farag said: “Since the establishment of our Sharjah branch, we have received unlimited support from the leadership and decision-makers to empower the maritime sector. The generous scholarships and top-notch facilities the leadership has allocated to the Academy in Sharjah make it on a par with the best maritime academies internationally. Today, we can proudly say that this branch is the largest of all and is comparable in size and capabilities to our headquarters in Alexandria.”
Commenting on how the collaboration will impact maritime training and qualification, Dr Youssef added that the biggest challenge maritime academies around the world face was the high costs of training on vessels. “We look forward to FTA’s support to facilitate the training of our students on ships operating in the UAE,” he commented. “This will give the Academy a competitive edge and make our national graduates better qualified as they will be equipped with practical experience of working on ships of various types and sizes.”
He also pointed out that the Sharjah branch of the Academy has the highest percentage of female students of all maritime academies in the Middle East and North Africa. Enrolled female students make up more than 43 % of the total number of students. This is in line with the FTA’s aim to empower women in the maritime sector and employ their capabilities and creativity to boost the maritime sector.
The first semester of the academic year 2020/2021 commenced this September at the Khorfakkan campus of the Academy using ‘blended learning,’ which combines both classroom lectures and distance learning. For this year 50 students have been accepted taking the total number of students at the Academy to 170.