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Captain Abdulkareem Al Masabi: Shipping’s shared prosperity

Leadership Insights newsletter story

Captain Abdulkareem Al Masabi, CEO of ADNOC Logistics & Services, a global energy maritime logistics company based in Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Emirates Shipping Association, talks about the vital economic role shipping plays in the UAE and plans to grow and remain resilient in the face of change.

18 March 2024
Captain Abdulkareem Al Masabi, CEO of ADNOC Logistics & Services. Credit: ADNOC

ADNOC L&S has a big footprint in the UAE, providing integrated logistics, shipping and marine services with an owned fleet of more than 250 vessels transporting and providing energy logistics. Can you please outline the importance of the UAE as a maritime hub for the global economy?

Long before its foundation in 1971, the UAE established itself as a global trading hub, with the shipping and the maritime industry at the heartbeat of the economic vibrancy. The sector has played a significant role in our nation’s exponential economic growth accounting for 9 to 10% of the overall GDP of the UAE, acting as a cornerstone of our prosperity and a vital facilitator of our international trade.

Our global position continues to expand and grow. In early December, the UAE was re-elected to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the Category B membership for the fourth term with the highest number of votes, following comprehensive efforts and an intensive election campaign leading up to the elections. 

In 2022, UAE ports registered more than 25,000 vessel calls and handled more than 90 million TEUS. During that time ADNOC L&S transported 30 MMT of cargo around the world to over 100 customers in more than 50 countries. 

This robust progress isn’t just about industry gains. A strong maritime sector significantly boosts the prosperity of communities and many other economic sectors. And it ensures that the benefits of trade growth reach everyone fostering shared prosperity among diverse populations.

As a major operator of tankers, how are you coping with the various challenges that Ukraine and Russia conflict and how are companies like ADNOC L&S looking to overcome this competition for crew?

In the past four years, the energy maritime industry has endured unprecedented challenges including a global pandemic, an energy supply crunch, and armed conflicts, all of which have forced maritime energy leaders to stay flexible and innovative. The resilience of our industry has been demonstrated on a daily basis. It also means the industry will shift in many different directions to meet the evolving needs of customers and economies.

This year, we launched our state-of-the-art Integrated Logistics Services Platform; one of the largest turnkey offshore logistics offerings in the world designed to enable coordinated end-to-end management of energy logistics and maritime operations, which gives our company and our customers an edge in adapting to rapidly changing global events.

We are also constantly seeking to collaborate with stakeholders and form new strategic partnerships to seek out new opportunities, boost efficiency and resilience, and to increase the skillsets and wellbeing of our people.

It is our people that are at the core of ADNOC L&S and we take great pride in safeguarding the UAE’s seafaring legacy. Fortunately, the impact of the workforce shortage has been limited at our company and we work hard to retain and support our 3,200 seafarers, and we utilize a diverse talent management strategy that allows us to reach global recruitment markets, further insulating the company from geopolitical disruptions.

As the world makes its green transition, working towards Paris goals, while shipping works towards IMO 2030 and 2050 goals, what light can you shed on moves being made in the UAE to aid this transition?

COP28 achieved a historic win with the emergence of the UAE Consensus, headlined by all Parties agreeing to transition away from fossil fuels on the way to a Net-Zero world by 2050. It is prudent for industries to help make this happen by bringing forth solutions from within while meeting the demands of global economies.

We must be able to meet these dual challenges by providing the world with the goods and energy required for a prosperous society while reducing the emissions associated with meeting these needs. It is a major challenge, but one we all have no choice but to overcome.

What plans do you have at ADNOC L&S to maintain and grow shipping’s importance nationally and on the international stage?  

At ADNOC L&S, we have developed a strategic vision built on our smart growth strategy that aims to meet rising and evolving global energy demand, unlock new value, expand our geographical reach, increase our service offerings, and attract new customers. This strategy allows us to leverage our size and scale to readjust to energy supplies and services in the face of new shipping challenges across all geographies.