Emirates Business reported that while the world is in the grip of an economic slowdown, the Gulf remains a dynamic growth centre for shipbuilding and repair.
Mr Christopher Hayman chairman of Seatrade said that "The region is one of the busiest commercial maritime hubs with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar having major ports and shipyards with more being built."
Workboats include tugs, ferries, supply vessels; police, fire, patrol, pilot, rescue and oil spill boats; along with, dredgers, barges and floating cranes, with more than 2,000 such vessels estimated to be docked or repaired in the Middle East.
Mr Hayman said that "New building, dry and wet repairs are being carried out by yards in the region with a heavy emphasis on the workboat sector." The UAE has the highest number of ship repair companies in the region.
Abu Dhabi Ship Building, for example, continues to grow from strength to strength with a skilled workforce of 1,200. The yard is busy on a variety of new ships as well as repairing and upgrading both commercial and naval vessels.
He said that "International as well as regional yards are also doing well in the Middle East workboat sector as a result of the accelerated growth of marine transport throughout the Arabian Gulf - Dubai and Abu Dhabi in particular."
Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands is constructing in its China yards 100 people ferries for Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority for use on Dubai Creek. The ferries will have a maximum speed of 24 knots and economy and business class seats. The authority has also ordered 10 catamaran water taxis from Damen also for use on the Dubai Creek. Damen has a JV yard with Albwardy Marine Engineering in Dubai.
Zamil Shipbuilding, with a full order book well into 2012, has one of the region's most significant shipbuilding and ship repair bases at Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
In recent years it has built and delivered harbour tugs, pilot boats, offshore utility vessels, anchor handling tugs, supply and safety vessels and a diving support vessel. Zamil anchor handling vessels have been delivered to work with Saudi Aramco in their offshore oil fields in the Arabian Gulf.