On 20 April 2016, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Decree No. 14 of 2016 establishing the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC).

EMAC is a specialised arbitration centre which has the potential to fill a geographic / time zone gap in the international arbitration market and meet some of the needs of regional and international companies operating in the maritime industry.

Decree No. 16 of 2016 was also issued on 20 April 2016 to establish the organisational structure of EMAC, which comprises a Board of Trustees who are each appointed for a renewable three year term, an Executive Committee and an administrative body. The Board of Trustees, which has a supervisory role, is headed by Sir Anthony Colman, Chairman, and Mr Majid Obeid Bin Bashir, Vice Chairman.  There are a further 13 Trustees, including Clyde & Co partner, and Head of Dispute Resolution (MENA), Chris Mills and other representatives from across the UAE maritime industry. 

EMAC aims to provide services for resolving international as well as domestic maritime disputes through arbitration, mediation and other means of alternative dispute resolution. A special register of maritime arbitrators, mediators and experts is anticipated and the Board of Trustees are currently engaged in finalising EMAC's Rules. ?We will provide an overview of the Rules once they come into force.  The Rules are expected to be similar to the draft Rules which we provided commentary on in September 2015, click here to view the briefing

As discussed in the September 2015 briefing, crucially the Rules are expected to provide that the default seat of EMAC arbitrations will be the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which has the potential to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by parties seeking to enforce foreign arbitral awards in the UAE.

The establishment of EMAC is a welcome development and shows a commitment to strengthen the UAE's position in the international maritime community and as a more attractive place for international arbitration.