JEDDAH: IRFAN MOHAMMED
Piracy has become a major threat to the safety and security of shipping, said Rear Adm. Awad Eid Al-Balawi, deputy director general of the Border Guard.
He inaugurated the first international training course for maritime operations at Naval Border Guard Institute in Jeddah on Saturday, which was attended by commanders of navy and maritime and coast guards from 17 countries.
The training course is organized in association with the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Al-Balawi said piracy along the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea is affecting global commerce and is a source of worry to the international community.
He said Saudi Arabia is committed to its role in combating maritime piracy, along with the IMO, and is working with countries that signed the Djibouti code of conduct in 2009.
The rear admiral said that Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif has approved of a special course designed to combat piracy.
IMO Project Officer Osamu Marumoto said Saudi Arabia has set an example for the rest of world by hosting a training program for maritime commanders of various countries.
He said that the IMO would help countries improve their skills in combating piracy.
Mohammed Mujtaba of the Maldives Coast Guard said the Saudi conference and training has helped member countries to build a common understanding that would help in improving communications in combat operations. Piracy has emerged as a multidimensional business, he said. He said increased security on ships reduced piracy last year.
Adil Sulaiman of the Royal Jordan Navy said that such training courses would enhance skills to help safeguard the seas. Jordan has shared its experience with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
T. Abdoolah Khan of Mauritius Coastal Police felt that the Saudi initiative would help efforts to combat piracy in the north of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
A maritime expert of the French Naval Command in the Arabian Sea, based in Abu Dhabi, said the Kingdom‚Äôs initiative in making the seas in the region safer would make a difference. Shakir Amin of the Sudan Navy echoed his views.