RITIKA SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS
Offering a stimulating alternative to explore the picturesque skyline and coastline of Abu Dhabi from the waterfronts, Jalboot ferry service has won many hearts in the region. A unique mode of transport, with strategically-planned stoppages, Jalboot has taken the tourism industry by a storm.
Some see it as an unconventional transport option during peak traffic hours while others consider it as an innovative move to boost sea tourism in the region. Boasting a strong fleet of classy ferries, made of world-class specifications, and a well-trained crew, Jalboot also offers leisure yachts that are available for charter under the Jalboot Leisure brand.
Jalbootâ€™s German-designed but locally-built ferries come with unique jet propulsion that has been intelligently chosen to ensure minimum
impact on marine wildlife.
Operations of the ferries are overseen by Jalboot Marine Network LLC and the company is planning to add many innovative features in the coming months. It is running a rigorous campaign; under the able mentoring of Thomas Rebollini, Head of Finance, Sales and Marketing â€” Jalboot Marine Network LLC; to make sea tourism popular and to attract
customers towards this matchless mode of transportation.
Rebolliniâ€™s career evolved from a background in finance and specialisation in internal audit, corporate performance management and strategy development. He brings more than 21 years of professional experience.
Demonstrating his commitment to the profession, Rebollini attained the title of FCA (Fellow Chartered Accountant) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) in London.
In 2009, Rebollini made his way into the Middle Eastern market and kick-started his journey with renowned companies in the region like Ernst & Young and Mubadala.
With exceptional work experience at globally acclaimed companies, Rebollini was later appointed CFO and Projects Director at Belevari Marine LLC, before finally taking current role at Jalboot, a home-grown brand founded by Emirates Consortium in 2013.
Emirates Business spoke to
Rebollini to get a better insight of Jalboot operations, vision behind this unique business model and much more.
How you would like to define Jalboot ferry service?
The Jalboot ferry service is UAE capitalâ€™s only private passenger water transport service for Abu Dhabi city as well as its immediate surroundings, and an alternative to experience the emirates and its close destinations from a new perspective. Our ferries offer a fast, safe, reliable, comfortable, affordable and alternative mode of transportation.
Jalboot ferries are managed by which parent company?
Jalboot Marine Network LLC (Jalboot) oversees the operation of the Jalboot ferries. Based in Abu Dhabi, Jalboot was founded in 2013 by Emirates Consortium LLC, its parent company, and operates as its own entity.
Please throw some light on the features of your boats.
The ferries are of German design and built locally in the UAE, custom-made to Jalbootâ€™s specifications, powered by high speed jets, and fuel efficient Volvo Penta engines. Jet propulsion was chosen to ensure minimum impact on marine wildlife. The ferries accommodate 45 passengers and crew onboard. For safety, security and comfort, the ferries are fully air-conditioned, equipped with washrooms, have leather business-class style seating and offer light refreshments. Life rafts and life jackets are also available for all passengers and crew.
Anything special or unusual about your ferries?
The ferries were designed by an award-winning European boat builder, and are manufactured here in the UAE.
Will there be other types of sea transport vehicles, such as yachts, ships, etc.?
We are planning, as a second phase of operations, to use additional smaller vessels for shorter routes. In addition, various types of leisure yachts are available for charter under the Jalboot Leisure brand.
Why do you think it is important to have sea transport in Abu Dhabi?
The coastal area of Abu Dhabi is an archipelago of islands. While some of these islands are connected by bridges and are accessible by road, or by car and passenger ferries in the Western region, this alternative to peak hour traffic is certainly refreshing. It also offers an opportunity to experience the UAE capital and its immediate surrounds from the sea and gives residents as well as tourists alike an affordable, safe, comfortable, reliable and memorable travel and sightseeing option.
Passengers will be able to view the city and its skyline from the comfort of Jalboot ferries, which link all the major tourist attractions and landmarks the capital and nearby mainland and islands have to offer.
How does Jalboot fit into UAEâ€™s vision for 2021 and Abu Dhabiâ€™s 2030 economic plan?
The development plans for UAEâ€™s 2021 vision and Abu Dhabiâ€™s 2030 plan take public amenities into serious consideration to serve the growing population and expanding tourism industry.
We also aim to provide an alternative to road travel during peak
traffic hours and endeavour to conveniently transport passengers to their destinations.
How many people can be accommodated in the ferry? Are some boats larger than others to fit more people?
The Jalboot ferry can accommodate 45 passengers and crew onboard. There will be other vessels in the future to service shorter routes. There are also leisure yachts, which are operated by Jalboot Leisure that will cater to private and leisure charters.
Do you think commuters will prefer to travel by sea rather than by land?
Jalbootâ€™s ferry service offers a fast, reliable, comfortable and affordable alternative mode of transportation. We believe the service will appeal to those who prefer not to use the roads during peak traffic hours and who want to enjoy the breathtaking sights from the waterfront.
Which are stoppages on the Jalbootâ€™s route? Will Jalboot increase its number of stops in the coming months?
Currently Jalboot has four destination stops which are Etihad Towers, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Yas Marina and Abu Dhabi Mall. Jalboot does intend to expand its network in the near future.
What are your future plans with Jalboot and where are your sales kiosks?
Additional local routes will be launched in the coming future. However, we cannot share the details at this moment but we will do that once everything is finalised.
Jalboot sales kiosks are located in Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Wahda Mall and Mushrif Mall. Passengers can also buy tickets through our website (www.jalboot.ae) and call centre (600 57 57 56). Tickets should be pre-booked due to limited availability from October to December 2015. Tickets will be available at each point of departure, however space cannot be guaranteed all the time.
You are targeting which segment of the customers?
The ferry service caters to everyone who wishes to see Abu Dhabi from a new perspective – through 100-km of waterways. It can alleviate the hassle of sitting in peak hour traffic and is also a great sightseeing alternative. Conveniently linking major destinations in Abu Dhabi, Jalboot ferry passengers can sit back and relax while enjoying a unique view of the city and its surrounding coast and skyline.
Can people reserve/rent the boat for an entire day to take guests/relatives around?
Group tours can be arranged and private charters are available as well.
Do you think that Jalboot would add to the tourism element of Abu Dhabi?
We work closely with Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi). On its own, the Jalboot ferry service provides safe, fun, affordable and fast transportation to major tourist destinations while entertaining passengers with scenic routes.
How safe are the Jalboot ferries? How do you ensure safety of the passengers?
The Jalboot ferries are accredited for safety and quality to international standards (MARPOL, RINA, SOLAS). The operational crewâ€™s licences are compliant with those same standards to operate and maintain marine vessels. In addition, each ferry is equipped with life rafts and life jackets to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew.
How many crew members does the ferry have?
Jalboot ferries have a crew of upto three, and are supported onshore by a large customer service and operations team.
Tell us about the payment and ticketing system.
Jalboot is the first SME in the GCC to implement mobile Point of Sales system (mPOS) technology, powered by NBAD and Etisalat, to ensure safe, simple and smart transactions. You can get your ticket emailed to you, or printed as part of your receipt and present it for scanning at the ferry.
Jalboot has also appointed Vsourz, a renowned UK technology and design solutions firm, for the creation of our bespoke online ticketing solution.
Passengers can easily pre-book their tickets via website. A return ticket costs 40AED, a one-stop ticket costs 45AED while a round trip costs 150AED. One can book in advance and avail applicable discounts. The range of ticket types vary from adult ticket (+12-year), child ticket (4-12-year), family ticket (two adults and two children) and group tickets.
Where do you see the future of Jalboot as Abu Dhabiâ€™s prime means of transportation?
We like to think of ourselves as the Marine â€œEtihadâ€ of the future; and we are working hard towards it.
Abu Dhabi really needs such a service. We are aiming expansion plans that are going to cover three main segments: Business to Customer, Business to Business, and Business to Government.