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  • ARP Law Group

Landmark reforms to UAE Maritime Law: Analysis of UAE Federal Law No. 43 of 2023

Updated: Jan 4

A large ship at sea outside Dubai, waving a AUE flag

On September 28, 2023, the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued Federal Law No. 43 of 2023 regarding Maritime Law (the “New Maritime Law”). The New Law is set to come into effect six months from its publication date and will repeal Law No. 26 of 1981 concerning Maritime Commercial Law and its amendments.

The New Maritime Law marks groundbreaking changes to the maritime sector of the United Arab Emirates, incorporating significant amendments. Notably, it allows foreign owners to own vessels registered in the UAE records and under UAE Flag. The law also mandates the establishment of a new registry for the registration of supply and service vessels. Furthermore, it introduces various improvements to the legal framework and the codified law including recognition of the various categories of agents such as ship, cargo, transit and stevedore which are a given in any maritime fixture and further recognition of maritime debts including amendments to the procedure for vessel arrests whereby applicants are now required to provide security.  

An executive regulation is expected to be issued under the New Maritime Law to delineate powers and facilitate its implementation o, which will further play a crucial role in clarifying and interpreting many of the provisions outlined in the new Maritime Law. The regulatory framework under the New Maritime Law will provide guidance on how the new regime is to be executed and enforced.

The issuance of the New Maritime Law reflects the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to enhance and modernize its maritime legal framework, fostering a more inclusive and competitive environment for the local maritime industry while also encouraging global players and investors to feel more confident in contributing to the UAE maritime sector. 

The New Maritime Law goes into force six months from the date of its publication in the official gazette which was on 29 September 2023 and will repeal the previous Maritime Law and its amendments. The changes under the New Maritime law are expected to bring about positive developments and increased activity in the UAE's maritime sector.


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