Established to represent and support the maritime industry in the region The Leisure Marine Association MENA is set to increase recreational boat ownership and use in the region. We speak to its Chairman, John W.R. Paul to find out more.

YME: What is the Leisure Marine Association MENA?

JWRP: The LMA is a marine trade industry association established within the United Arab Emirates similar to other countrywide marine industry associations like the British Marine Federation in the UK, the Australian Boating Industry Association, or the HISWA in the Netherlands.

The association’s aim is to bring together as many industry participants as possible in order to coordinate and communicate on all matters important to our industry.

The LMA MENA is officially recognised by the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA).

Our members represent the entire industry from boat builders, marina operators, service companies, charter companies, parts suppliers and many others.

YME: Why was it formed?

JWRP: The formation of the association has been in discussion for many years within the marine industry as we all realised that, unlike what was found in other countries, there was no formal forum where we could discuss and agree on what was best for the industry. There was no official organisation that could interact with the relevant authorities and there was no recognised, or even visible body towards the outside world. We understood that the only way we could be effective was to be an officially established legal entity with UAE.

YME: How long did it take to create?

JWRP: There is quite a history behind the LMA. Initial discussions were held over 10 years ago by some of the current board members such as Farrokh Golchin, Bruno Meier and Stephen Corbett.

Since then, there have been various meeting formats with industry participants, most recently the DMCA initiative called Raseina, which consisted of most of the founders currently behind the LMA.

We really picked up steam in 2019 and finally were able to register as a not-for-profit association with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in October 2020.

The basic objective: The Leisure Marine Association MENA aims to promote, protect and advance the interests of its members and that of the Leisure Marine industry.
YME: What challenges did you face during its formation?

JWRP: The transient nature of living in Dubai was a challenge as people tend to spend a few years in the area and move elsewhere. Also it was difficult to find the right legal format but ultimately, we had fantastic support from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce who really went out of their way to help us establish officially.

YME: What are the LMA’s goals?

JWRP: The LMA was formed to bring together all stakeholders within the UAE and greater MENA region to speak with a united voice with the overall goal to bring about relevant positive change to the industry and the wider boating community.

In short, we want to promote, protect and advance the interests of our members and that of the leisure marine industry as a whole.

We would also like to play our part in making the region an enjoyable place for boating, advocate safe boating practices, create environmental awareness and provide educational opportunities for boating enthusiasts and trade professionals. A particular interest of the association is to promote our region within the international community as a yachting destination.

YME: How will the LMA support boat owners?

JWRP: Thank you Steve, for asking this question, as this is really what is behind establishing the association. Although the LMA is only open for membership to marine trade professionals, ultimately it is all about the boat owner. Whatever we do should result in a more positive boating experience. Happy Boater, Happy Industry.

YME: How will it help the region’s maritime industry?

JWRP: As they say “A Healthy mind in a healthy body”. This is our aim but I should rephrase this and say “An enjoyable experience as a boat owner leads to a healthy industry”. It comes down to what I answered in your previous question. If boat owners will find it easy to purchase a boat, experience a smooth registration process; if boating regulations are logical and sensible and understood, if they are able to rely on the quality offered by service companies, boat dealers and brokers, if they feel supported by marina operators and are kept aware about safe boating practices and how they can help the environment then they will have a better boating experience. This will lead to more boats being purchased and serviced which will in turn lead to a healthier industry.

As they say “A Healthy mind in a healthy body”. This is our aim but I should rephrase this and say “An enjoyable experience as a boat owner leads to a healthy industry”.
YME: What are the member benefits?

JWRP: Ask not what the LMA can do for you but what you can do for the LMA! We are all in this together and only through our combined efforts and commitment can we hope to make any difference.

Although we are working on obtaining discounts for members from various partners and other forms of benefits it is really important that we all understand that the ultimate benefit is having a healthier marine industry.

This requires input from everybody that derives income from the industry, so we ask members to join and consider the long term contribution that they can make, not just what is their short-term advantage.

YME: What are the LMA’s first objectives?

JWRP: The very first objectives will revolve around coordination with the authorities to ease regulations for boat and yacht owners.

These discussions are already ongoing and the authorities have been extremely supportive. We are also heavily involved with the organization of the ICOMIA World Marina Conference in Dubai later this year.

YME: How can we get involved?

JWRP: In closing I would like to ask everybody that works in the regional marine industry to visit our website – www.leisuremarinemena.com – give it a thorough read through and sign up for membership.

In order for the LMA to be effective it is really important that we have a substantial group of participants, and more than just being a member we ask you to be an active member.