The UAE's Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure on Saturday launched a new initiative to further support seafarers.
The 'Salmeen' initiative was announced on the Day of the Seafarer, which is marked internationally on June 25 each year.
The programme is designed to provide quality medical care, maritime education, and training to people working on board marine vessels, the ministry said.
It also aims to identify and remove physical and social barriers through effective co-operation between the public and private sectors.
The initiative is being carried out to improve quality of life for people employed in the industry and to help tackle challenges they are facing because of the pandemic and related travel restrictions.
It will make companies and owners of ships responsible for supporting seafarers and providing them with full protection.
The ministry said it has put in place a monitoring system to ensure the rules are followed.
It has also announced several initiatives in the past to support sailors and protect their rights.
In August last year, the ministry introduced the Supporting Our Blue Army scheme, which gave seafarers the same consideration as front-line health workers.
Under the initiative, a Cabinet resolution was issued that obliges all ships in UAE waters or ports to guarantee the rights of seafarers.
An agreement has also been signed with the International Transport Workers' Federation to enhance co-operation in supporting sailors.
This ensures adequate material and moral support is given to seafarers in the UAE — including free medical treatment and Covid-19 vaccines and allowing crew replacements when required.
Operators of merchant tankers and other commercial vessels who abandon ships also face financial penalties.
More than 214,000 seafarers confined to ships were assisted in the replacement process and returned to their home countries during the pandemic.
The UAE is a logistics hub. It connects global shipping lines and receives the largest number of ships heading to the region's ports with more than 21,000 ships annually, said the ministry.
More than 27,000 local and international maritime companies operate in the UAE, with more than 17 million containers handled at the country's ports each year.