NAFL brings logistics sector to new heights

Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2016

National Association of Freight and Logistics (NAFL), the Arabian Gulf’s first freight forwarding association, aims to ensure the UAE’s leading position and Dubai’s pre-eminence in international freight and transportation fields

With a vision to respond to the need to bring together the increasing number of freight and logistics service providers in the UAE, the National Association of Freight and Logistics (NAFL) was founded in Dubai in February 1992 as mandated by the Government of Dubai. NAFL, previously named National Committee of Freight Forwarders (NCFF), is the first national association of freight forwarders to be established in the Arabian Gulf.

Shortly after its establishment, on March 31, 1992, NAFL achieved another feat by becoming the first and only national association from an Arabian Gulf country to join the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA). Since then, NAFL has been a staunch supporter of FIATA.

From a total of 24 members at the time of its inception, NAFL has now grown more than ten-fold with a current roster of 350 members. This growth signified the important role of the NAFL to spearhead relevant training programs, which are crucial in the development of a corporation, as well as the industry.

The NAFL Training Institute was launched in 1995 and from then on has continuously provided programs that aim to increase industry knowledge and skills of the members; expand the horizons of human intellect and overall personality of the training participants; help improve the quality of work and work-life, and most importantly, help increase the productivity of the members that help their organization further to achieve their business goals.

Hand in hand with FIATA, NAFL advocates international logistics-centered conferences for their learning and networking opportunities. NAFL, under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has hosted the FIATA World Congress twice, in 1999 and 2007.

To date, by largely focusing on ensuring the UAE’s leading position in the international transport and logistics arena, NAFL’s members not only their places as the major players in the UAE’s freight and logistics field, but also as foremost facilitators of other fast-growing industries.

Emphasis on training

The NAFL is well placed here in the UAE to deliver the diploma program using the full range of training methods available. Emphasis during training sessions is placed on practical exercises, case studies and visits to see actual operations at work.

These visits, at a minimum, comprise the ports of Jebel Ali, Port Rashid, and Dubai Airport, where the full range of cargo activities are both described and demonstrated. At Port Rashid, peripheral activities at the passenger terminal and container repair yard are included.

At Jebel Ali, the extensive Free Zone provides numerous locations where Third Part Logistics (3PL) are practiced – a visit here forms part of the Warehousing module. Dubai Airport has comprehensive cargo facilities and added Cold-Chain and Flower Auction facilities.

NAFL also uses ‘Industry Professionals’ to deliver the course content. Whilst this makes the number of available lecturers (or facilitators to be more accurate) small – and subject to change as business travel or work load within their own companies dictates – it does mean that a huge store of experience and knowledge is available “on the spot.”

Additionally, much emphasis is placed on confirmation exercises – where students are able to test their knowledge acquired to date. Every training session includes at least one confirmation exercise. This may be in the form of a practical exercise to be performed either by individuals or groups, or perhaps using a multi-choice questionnaire. The aim is to ensure that students (and tutor) can see exactly what progress they are making and enable maximum retention of knowledge.

MoU signed with two Indian trade bodies

Last year, NAFL has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two logistics and freight forwarding industry associations of India to create a framework for cooperation between the two countries and collaborate and support each other in several domains.

The MoUs were signed at the Region Africa and Middle East (RAME) conference of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) which NAFL hosted in Dubai in April.

David Phillips, President of NAFL, inked the agreements in two separate ceremonies with Debashis Dutta, Chairman of Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations in India (FFFAI), and Sailesh Bhatia, President of Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI). Francesco Parisi, President of FIATA, who witnessed the ceremonies, praised the efforts towards strengthening cooperation and partnership between the two vibrant and promising regions.

FFFAI is the apex body of custom brokers and freight forwarders and boasts of over 5,000 members who accounts for about 90 per cent of logistics trade in India. The federation has 24 associations as its members. AMTOI has over 200 individual members.

Stating that the two agreements will open up opportunities to consolidate the industry in the two economically vibrant countries, David said the Pakistan body has expressed the desire to enter into a MoU with NAFL and efforts will be made to sign similar deals with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These arrangements will help in holding regular dialogues with the industry stakeholders and the promotion of freight forwarding and logistics services through the exhibitions and conferences, he added.

The FIATA RAME-2015 was based upon the Trade Corridor that exists between the Indian Subcontinent and Africa, via the Middle East in general and Dubai and UAE in particular.

Speakers from Africa and Indian Subcontinent took the debate further by sharing insights about the obstacles to and opportunities for infrastructure development and expansion of freight and logistics facilities to enhance trade flows and better regional partnerships and coordination.

According to officials, the global trade in goods and services is expected to cross the $27 trillion mark in 2030. The Middle East, according to the Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2014, offers “extremely lucrative” opportunities for companies able to take advantage of the region’s emergence as a global logistics hub.

Qatar, UAE, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait ranked highest out of 45 emerging markets countries in the key category of “market compatibility”. The UAE topped all other countries in the Index as having the best domestic and international transport infrastructure and best connections between the two.

According to an industry report by Ti, the Middle East’s regional freight forwarding sector will expand 7.8 per cent annually until 2017. According to a Frost & Sullivan study, the UAE logistics market valuations are expected to touch a staggering $27 billion in 2015, driven by an increase in import and export trade volumes and upward trends in local manufacturing.