Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East

Sometimes, the biggest rewards come from difficult situations.

Project cargo players are no strangers to finding bright spots in dark skies and overcoming unique challenges. 

In February, at the 2020 edition of Breakbulk Middle East, the team sat down with Capt. Gamal Fekry, Managing Director and Owner, MC Ship Management, to get his take on the region’s challenges – and the opportunities they present.

Finding project cargo opportunities in the Middle East’s big challenges


Taking the right philosophy

“I’m always a great believer that opportunities come from challenges. When we have a challenge, or should I say crises, this is where opportunities arise the most,” Capt. Fekry said. “Not only opportunities when you find the challenge, but when you identify this challenge when you find this opportunity.”

Amongst the challenges discussed in his guest talk at Breakbulk Middle East 2020 was the transition to low sulphur fuels the maritime sector is currently experiencing.

This has major cost implications for fleet operators, possibly doubling annual fuel bills, according to IHS research. It’s certainly one of the biggest issues facing maritime companies right now.

Capt. Fekry also talked about In Country Value (ICV), a new scheme originating in the UAE.

“ICV is a very good initiative the government has implemented in Abu Dhabi to request any company submitting a tender or taking part of a business to Abu Dhabi to present a business case to show how much they are contributing to the country, in terms of workforce, in terms of Emiratisation, etc,” he explained. “Of course, it is a great initiative, but it has pros and cons.”

And, even in February, the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic were only just starting to be felt: “Industry has taken an $160bn loss so far. Don’t forget, these losses are only related to the impact of corona, but the industry itself was already in a loss.”

Key recovery strategies and reasons to be optimistic

Some important strategies were outlined by Capt. Fekry, regarding regional recovery and what authorities can do to mitigate Covid-19’s negative impact.

“Let’s start with governments first,” he said. “Everything will have to start with them. Local and regional governments will have to move their strategy a little bit faster and add some stimulus to their economy.

“We are very stagnant in the region at the moment, and the oil price is not helping either.

“Every country in the region will have to have something to stimulate their economy. That will start by maybe revisiting their regulations, putting in some incentives to local and regional business, and perhaps cutting cost of doing business in the region.

“This is just the beginning. If they address this, then they will recognise we are in a very, very good area, and the potential is huge.”

Then there are key megaprojects, such as Expo 2020, which can act as recovery drivers: “We also have to remember that Expo is on the way,” Capt. Fakry explained. “The Expo this year in October* will be presenting a lot of opportunities for breakbulk operators in the region.

“Local governments are looking at updating the infrastructure, looking at roads, and changing accommodation into factories, so I think there is a very big opportunity there.”

*Please note: Expo as been rescheduled for October 2021, but still presents massive opportunities for project cargo and regional economic stimulus.

So, from Capt. Fakry’s words, there are many reasons to be optimistic, regarding Middle Eastern breakbulk and project cargo opportunities.

Capitalise on your opportunities at Breakbulk Middle East 

Breakbulk Middle East is where the project cargo opportunities are, as well as the region’s largest gathering of sector professionals.

2021’s event is even more important given the big changes Covid-19 has made to global logistics. Here’s how:
  • It’s the place where networking gets done and relationships are reinforced – vital in these trying times.
  • Taking place in February, the event is perfectly timed to relaunch your business and strengthen your fiscal year 2021 forecasts.
  • Government figures, private sector oil and gas companies are here too – the people that decide your next contract.

Want in on the action for yourself? Book your stand and become a Breakbulk exhibitor.

If you have further questions or queries on how we can help you during these interesting times, please contact us.