Al Shaali Marine Maldives is one of the leading boat and yacht manufacturers in the country, and for this instalment of In the Boardroom we have a chat with the company’s Operations Manager, Ismail Shareef.

Hotel Insider: We expect a lot of new resort properties to open in the Maldives in the near future and this would obviously place some more demands on those providing marine services in the country. Have you been thinking about the ways in which you would handle this possible new load?

Ismail Shareef: Yes, we’ve actually been giving much thought to the matter; identifying the demands, researching the necessary innovations and bringing about the required customisations. In the future, I think Maldives is still going to be a romantic destination for many, but with that I think there’s going to be a greater demand for excursions and we are going to be placing a lot of emphasis on that in the future.

Hotel Insider: How would you describe Al Shaali Marine’s position in the Maldivian marine industry? As we understand you are one of the biggest boat and yacht manufacturers in the country.

Ismail Shareef: When taking the whole Maldivian marine industry into account, I have to say that Al Shaali Marine wears the first place badge in the country, as we have one of the best yards, and the reason we are able to remain in this position is because of the cooperation we receive from various service sectors and businesses, and because we have acquired their trust. So for us, one of our biggest focuses is maintaining that trust, and making sure that our services and products are delivered to our customers according to their requirements and in a timely manner.

Hotel Insider: What would you say are the main marine transportation challenges for the Maldives? Does Maldives’ unique geographical setting come in to play here?

Ismail Shareef: Yes, that is a huge challenge. But that also presents a really big business advantage; that geographical challenge is why boat building is needed here in the first place. And to go deeper into the challenges we face, one is providing services to vessels located at the far-flung areas of the country. Then there is also the challenge of providing vessels to those in such areas as well. However, we are thinking of ways by which we could come up with a solution for this. I don’t mean we will be building yards at various locations; it’s more about finding solutions that work for both our customers and us.

Hotel Insider: What are your thoughts on the marine safety standards here, especially when it comes to transporting tourists in periods of rough weather?

Ismail Shareef: I think our marine safety standards have really improved now compared to before. But, with that being said, there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made. And I think the transport authority is reviewing the situation and working on bringing the necessary changes. These sorts of changes that require changes to be made to regulations, these won’t happen overnight. But I do think they will take place gradually.

Hotel Insider: As we understand, Al Shaali Marine has been providing marine transportation services in the Maldives for a really long time now.

Ismail Shareef: Well, Al Shaali Marine Maldives has been providing services in the Maldives for around 11 years now. But as you might know, Al Shaali Marine’s main branch in Dubai has been around for forty years.

Hotel Insider: Your main branch in Dubai is quite well known for manufacturing fiberglass boats and yachts.

Ismail Shareef: Actually Al Shaali Marine’s chairman is known for initiating the change from wooden boats to fibre vessels in Dubai.

Hotel Insider: With all this experience, what would you say are the main changes that have taken place in the industry over the years? Are there any trends we should anticipate for the future?

Ismail Shareef: Every year we try to anticipate the changes that we think would take place in the year ahead. And to answer your question, the biggest change we’ve seen so far here in the Maldives is the change to vessel sizes; there’s been an increasing demand for larger vessels over the years. It is probably because the number of people who travel has increased; perhaps not many Maldivians had the opportunity to travel in the past, but now travelling has opened up, and with this increase in travellers, smaller vessels are no longer a very good option.

Hotel Insider: As we’ve reached the end of the interview, we would like to conclude it by asking you about Al Shaali Marine Maldives’ upcoming products and services. Is there something we should be anticipating for the future?

Ismail Shareef: We’ve recently introduced our AS 47; it is a bigger vessel that caters to the increase in local travellers. We previously had a plan of introducing an additional product this year, but as we are very busy with production as well as repair and maintenance, we are now planning to launch that at 2019’s Marine Expo. I don’t want to reveal what the product is yet, but there’s definitely something exciting coming up for the year ahead.