Close this search box.

Comprehensive Guide to UAE Maritime Law with Al Kabban & Associates 

Home / Maritime Law / Comprehensive Guide to UAE Maritime Law with Al Kabban & Associates 
UAE Beach

The maritime industry plays a pivotal role in fuelling the growth of the economy and trade of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The complexities of the maritime sector, combined with a vast body of diverse regulations and legal norms, present unique challenges for stakeholders, such as shipowners, operators, insurers, cargo owners, and legal practitioners operating in the UAE. An in-depth understanding of the UAE’s maritime law is crucial for safeguarding one’s interests at sea and utilising effective dispute resolution mechanisms. Al Kabban & Associates, a leading UAE law firm with expertise in maritime law, offers comprehensive guidance to stakeholders to navigate the legal intricacies of this crucial sector.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide stakeholders with a thorough understanding of maritime law and regulations in the UAE. Delving into vital topics such as vessel registration, carriage of goods and passengers, marine insurance, maritime claims, and dispute resolution mechanisms, the guide seeks to empower the maritime industry stakeholders to effectively navigate legal complexities and protect their interests at sea. Additionally, this guide will showcase Al Kabban & Associates’ proficiency in handling maritime law matters, demonstrating their commitment to providing tailored legal solutions to address the unique challenges faced by stakeholders in the UAE maritime sector.

With Al Kabban & Associates’ unparalleled expertise in UAE maritime law, stakeholders can successfully navigate the legal landscape governing maritime affairs, ensuring compliance, protecting investments, and fostering a favourable environment for collaboration and growth in the industry. Rely on Al Kabban & Associates for unmatched legal support, empowering you to chart a successful course through the complex waters of the UAE maritime legal framework.

UAE Maritime Law: Legal Framework and Key Regulations

The maritime legal landscape in the UAE is a blend of federal laws, international conventions, and local regulations. Various aspects of maritime activities are governed by Federal Law No. 26 of 1981 (Maritime Law), which covers essential topics such as vessel registration, marine mortgages, maritime liens, and salvage. Additionally, the UAE is a party to several international maritime conventions, which include the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Understanding the interplay between national laws and international conventions is critical for those engaging in maritime activities in the UAE. Apart from maritime-specific laws, several other UAE legislations may have a bearing on maritime matters, such as the UAE Commercial Code and Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) regulations. It is essential to stay well-versed with the applicable legal framework to ensure compliance and safeguard your interests in the maritime sector.

Vessel Registration and Nationality Requirements in the UAE

Vessel registration is a critical aspect of UAE maritime law, as it grants the vessel protection and rights under the UAE flag. Registration is generally open to UAE nationals, companies incorporated under UAE law, and foreign companies or individuals who have obtained special permission from the UAE government. The vessel registration process in the UAE involves the following steps:

1. Application: A detailed application must be submitted to the relevant flag administration, including the vessel’s particulars, ownership details, and classification society.

2. Survey and Inspection: Upon the successful review of the application, the vessel will be subjected to a thorough physical survey and inspection by an authorised surveyor to ensure its seaworthiness and compliance with safety and environmental regulations.

3. Documentation: The owner or operator must submit all necessary documents, including proof of ownership, mortgage details (if any), and insurance coverage to the flag administration.

4. Issuance of Certificates: Upon successful completion of the registration process, the vessel will be issued a Certificate of Registry, and other relevant certificates such as the International Tonnage Certificate, Maritime Transport Licence, and Minimum Safe Manning Certificate.

Understanding and adhering to the registration and nationality requirements in the UAE is crucial as it has a direct impact on your vessel’s legal status and liabilities.

Carriage of Goods and Passengers by Sea in the UAE

The carriage of goods and passengers by sea is governed by several provisions of the UAE Maritime Law as well as international conventions, such as the Hague-Visby Rules and the Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea (Athens Convention). The carrier’s responsibilities and obligations towards the cargo and passengers are determined by the terms of the contract of carriage, as evidenced by the bill of lading or other transport documents.

In the UAE, the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to the cargo is limited by law unless otherwise agreed in the contract. Additionally, the carrier’s liability for passenger injuries or deaths is subject to specific limits outlined in the Athens Convention or applicable national laws.

Having a comprehensive understanding of the legal requirements related to the carriage of goods and passengers by sea is crucial to avoid potential disputes and safeguard your interests in maritime trade.

Marine Insurance Regulations in the UAE

Marine insurance is a significant aspect of maritime law that includes various types of coverage to protect the vessel, cargo, and the carrier from losses or damages arising during maritime ventures. The UAE Maritime Law recognises several categories of marine insurance, such as hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance (P&I), and cargo insurance.

In the UAE, it is mandatory to insure vessels operating within its territorial waters, with the level and type of coverage required by law dependent on the nature and size of the vessel. Additionally, cargo owners and carriers are advised to obtain appropriate insurance coverage for their shipments to avoid potential liabilities arising from damage or loss of the cargo during transit.

Navigating the UAE marine insurance market can be complex, and it is essential to be familiar with the applicable legal requirements and options available to protect your maritime interests.

Maritime Claims and Dispute Resolution in the UAE

Maritime disputes often involve complex technical and legal aspects that require the assistance of experienced legal counsel. The UAE offers a range of dispute resolution mechanisms for resolving maritime disputes, such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation. In recent years, specialised maritime courts and arbitration centres have been established in the UAE, aiming to provide efficient and specialised resolution of maritime disputes.

Al Kabban & Associates’ Expertise in UAE Maritime Law

Al Kabban & Associates has a proven track record of providing expert legal assistance to stakeholders in the UAE maritime industry. Our in-depth knowledge of UAE maritime law, coupled with our experience in handling complex maritime disputes, makes us the go-to law firm for clients seeking tailored legal solutions to protect their interests at sea.


Navigating the complex world of maritime law in the UAE can be challenging, but with the assistance of a knowledgeable law firm like Al Kabban & Associates, stakeholders can safeguard their investments, mitigate risks, and achieve success in the dynamic maritime industry. By staying well-informed on the legal landscape and choosing the right legal partner, you can ensure smooth sailing in the ever-evolving UAE maritime sector.

Al Kabban & Associates have created a reliable service that provides clients with a global outlook and a local comprehension of maritime laws and regulations. Get in touch with our legal consultants in Dubai to get expert advise!


News & Articles

Scroll to Top