Dubai is ranked the best shipping centre in the Arab world and fifth globally

Dubai has been ranked the best shipping centre in the Arab world and the fifth best globally this year, making it the only Middle East city on the top 10 list.

Singapore retained its rank as the top international maritime hub for the ninth consecutive year in 2022, according to the Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development (ISCD) Index. The top five international shipping centres in 2022 are Singapore, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The index provides an independent ranking of the performance of the world’s largest cities that offer port and shipping business services.

“Top 10 locations remain largely unchanged since 2021 and features four Asian, four European, one Middle East and one United States location,” the report said.

“Covid-19 related restrictions severely impacted economies around the world and the sharp rebound in trade snarled up supply chains globally.

“The main shipping segments experienced mixed fortunes, with the container industry enjoying unprecedented profit levels, but tankers ran at or below operating costs.”

The value of global trade rose by almost 15 per cent to a record $7.7 trillion in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of about $1tn compared with the same period last year, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).

The trade value was about $250 million more than the fourth quarter of 2021, the UN body said in its Global Trade Update report.

Economic growth forecasts for 2022 are being revised downwards owing to rising interest rates, inflationary pressures in several economies and negative global economic spillovers from the conflict in Ukraine.

It is likely that global trade will reflect these macroeconomic trends, with a decrease in trade growth, according to Unctad.

“This report serves as a valuable reminder of how intrinsic shipping is to global trade and prosperity,” said Mark Jackson, chief executive of Baltic Exchange.

Dubai is a “relative newcomer in this list of predominantly centuries-old maritime centres”, according to the ISCD report. The city has heavily invested in infrastructure, which has, in turn, attracted business and tourism. Today, maritime plays an important part in Dubai’s diversified mix of industries, the report added.

Established ports in Dubai include DP World-operated Jebel Ali and Mina Rashid, as well as purpose-built Dubai Maritime City.

A 2020 decision to enable foreign ownership of certain maritime businesses furthers the UAE’s ambitions to position itself as an attractive option for international business and investment, the report said.

Rotterdam and Hamburg were ranked sixth and seventh respectively, in the shipping centre index.

New York/New Jersey overtook Athens/Piraeus to take eighth place on the list, owing to its port’s exceptionally strong TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) uptick in 2021 as logistics companies moved goods through the US east coast port to avoid congestion on the west coast, the report said.

The Chinese port of Ningbo-Zhoushan retained its 10th rank as it was the third busiest port in the world in terms of cargo handling, following Singapore and Shanghai.

The index ranked 43 cities based on port throughput and facilities, range of professional maritime support services and general business environment.

The report is a collaboration between Chinese state news agency Xinhua and international freight benchmark provider Baltic Exchange.

Singapore remained the top shipping centre for the ninth time owing to its established ecosystem of professional global maritime services, good governance, ease of doing business and large and strategically situated port, the report said.

The city state scored 94.88 out of 100 points, while London scored 83.04 points and Shanghai was at 82.79 points.

“The 2022 report highlights that innovation and digitalisation will be essential for maritime success over the next decade,” said Xu Yuchang of China Economic Information Service, a subsidiary of Xinhua.

“It also shows how flexible and resilient global supply chains can be when confronted with challenges.”

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