Published: Jun 15, 2023

New Regulator – New Rules: Understanding DMA’s Directive on Sea Container Charges

Signaling Dubai’s commitment to the maritime sector, His Highness the Ruler of Dubai issued Dubai Law No. 3 of 2023, creating the Dubai Maritime Authority (“DMA”), a body with extended powers that supersedes the Dubai Maritime City Authority and at the same time is affiliated it with Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (“PCFC“).

The DMA in one of its first official actions proceeded with the issuance of Directive No. 1 of 2023 on Transparency of Local Sea Container Charges (the “Directive”). The effective date of the Directive is 1 May 2023 and its purpose in essence is to mandate that all service providers in the field of sea container operations in the Emirate of Dubai submit their charges related to “Sea Container Services” with the DMA.


The Directive directly affects services providers who offer local sea container services (within, outside, or through any port) in the Emirate of Dubai (“Service Providers”). It is applicable to all Service Providers who from 1 May 2023 are already licensed by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFC), as well as other free zones in Dubai.

However, the promotion of transparency through this Directive affects the whole maritime sector in Dubai, as it aims to combat potential malpractices by Service Providers, including hidden fees and price-fixing.


The Directive initiates a series of measures which include:

  1. The introduction from its effective date of a temporary (until a subsequent notice is issued) freeze on the increase of any existing charges related to sea container services. An increase is exempted if it solely reflects new or increased charges set by an Authority, Port Operator or any part of the government.
  2. The obligation of all Service Providers – within 30 days from the effective date of the Directive, or within 30 days from obtaining a new license (in case of new service providers) – to declare their current local sea container charges to the DMA, using designated acronyms, descriptions and codes.

How can we help?

At Al Tamimi & Company, as a leading law firm in Dubai possessing expertise in local and international maritime law, we are well-positioned to comprehend the impact of the new regulations and assess how they may affect your business operations. Please reach out to us for an in-depth understanding of how the regulations introduced by the new Directive will affect your business operations. In addition, we have rights of audience before the courts across in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE, as well as local insights have enabled us to represent clients in complex local and multi-jurisdictional claims, defences, and commercial transactions.

Key Contacts

Omar N. Omar

Partner, Head of Transport & Insurance