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"We wish to convey our sincere thanks to your organization which has been professionally handling our biz since 2003. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of your staff members who supported and helped us during the hard times and gave us workable solutions and ideas to reach our business objectives. Al Rana Equipment & Machinery Trading Eng. Bassam Nowfat - Managing Director"

Al Rana Equipment & Machinery Trading,
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President's Message

'Dynamic', a word that epitomises today's international shipping business environment. Having played a prominent role as a multiple service provider for more than 30 years, we have recognised that the only thing that remains constant is change itself.

Ocean transportation has been the backbone of international trade for centuries. Today, with rapid economic growth in several nations, the volume of cargo transported has increased tremendously. Along with this growth has come change, both in the manner in which shipping lines go about their business and the way in which shipping support service providers have evolved to serve the needs of their customers.

With trade routes becoming more lucrative, many ocean carriers' strive to obtain greater operational efficiencies in order to move cargoes in a timely and profitable manner. The recent mergers and acquisitions between carriers has afforded principals larger economies of scales, as a result shipping lines are able to serve wider regions with higher number of port calls and some have opted to set up their own in-house agency services. There has never been more emphasis on quick and reliable turnarounds at competitive agency fees.

In view of these developments, ship agents around the world have had to adapt and become more flexible in their approach to business in order to remain competitive. Gone are the days when the levels of service provided were subject to how the day was progressing. Reliability, consistency and added value services have become the key factors for success, agents that have failed to recognise these factors and adapt effectively have struggled to stay afloat. This can easily be seen with the fewer number of independent agents, and the increasing role of agents with an international network of offices.

Principals have always needed to know that they can rely on their agents for the seamless movements of cargo. Traditional activities range from the allocation of the berths and completion of documentation to loading and unloading of cargo. These activities impact on how smoothly a vessel's call at port progresses and ultimately on the speed and ease at which it is turned around.

Every second a cargo is in transit is precious, and the saying 'time is money' is very true within this sector. In order to offer the best quality service to customers, agents have had to exert more efforts in hiring and training the right people. Developing skills along with utilising local knowledge and expertise is the key to getting the job done and overcoming any challenges that may arise.

Technology has also played an important role in providing agents with a competitive edge. Many large regional and international agencies have laid emphasis on utilising IT to keep all parties involved on the same platform and informed of how their business is progressing at all times.

Some agents have also diversified by offering services like freight forwarding and logistics services that have added value to their role and enabled them to offer clients customised transportation solutions. These auxiliary services have also resulted in them becoming known as full service providers and enabling them to differentiate their company from competitors in the region.

Going forward, there is likely to be an even greater emphasis on long term relationships. For this to exist, the main factor is trust. The principals need to trust the agents to get the job done in a timely and cost efficient manner and agents need to be able to trust that as long as they do this, they will continue to secure contracts.

For agents to maintain their status as the principal's 'eyes and ears' at the ports, they will need to consistently adapt an open minded approach and strive to improve the quality of services and control costs. Agents also need to be aware of changes and be on the look out for new opportunities in areas in which they can add value to services in order to cater to their customers efficiently.

Over the years, we at Sharaf Shipping Agency have lived by these values and we are proud of our association with the international shipping business. We look forward to developing more relationships and continuing to provide our clients with high value services at all our operations throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa.