UAE ports marked the International Day of the Seafarer on Friday with a series of events to raise the profile of merchant seamen.
The celebration was established in 2010 by the International Maritime Organisation, the UN agency for regulating shipping, to highlight the role played by seafarers around the world.
Like other international transport centres, Abu Dhabi Ports had ships in harbour sound their horns in salute.
The Horns of Hope initiative was unveiled 2020, in solidarity and recognition of the maritime, healthcare and critical sector personnel working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign reached more than 260 million people in more than 23 countries.
During the pandemic, thousands of merchant seamen were unable to return home after their contracts finished because of countries closed their borders. Many waited months before they could come ashore to be repatriated.
Capt Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, group chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports, called for more appreciation of ships' crews.
“Our seafarers, the unsung heroes of world trade, deserve our utmost respect, attention, and care," he said.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, they played a key role in securing the smooth flow of goods and medical supplies into Abu Dhabi as normal.
“International Day of the Seafarer is one of the many ways we support them and celebrate their contribution."
Abu Dhabi Ports organised events for the seamen on Friday, and distributed gifts as a token of appreciation.
The company offered free coronavirus vaccinations and PCR testing to more than 10,000 crew, in partnership with the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi.
DP World also offered free medical screenings for seafarers, and distributed food and giveaway packs at Jebel Ali International Seafarers Centre in Dubai.
The facility has provided support to more than 20,000 seafarers, with free facilities including counselling services, check-ups, WiFi, and indoor and outdoor games. The centre also offers free transport to and from vessels to its headquarters.