When you build floating palaces for the rich and famous, you don't have clients - you have friends.
So says Gulf Craft, the UAE's own superyacht builder, which invited 500 of its closest friends to show off its latest creation - a US$17 million (Dh62.4m), 41-metre motor yacht called Majesty 135 - and to celebrate three decades of supplying the rich with floating palaces.
The guests came from across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.
"We see them as friends, rather than customers", said Erwin Bamps, Gulf Craft's chief operating officer.
And at the moment, his friends are doing right by him. The company has not fared as badly as many of its competitors since the global economic crisis began in 2008.
More flexible working practices, lower costs and a one-stop shop when it comes to design and building has meant Gulf Craft has not only been building for its own customers, but also for other builders.
"This is all hand-made workmanship that we deliver, and that costs," Mr Bamps said. "But it costs less if you do it with Gulf Craft."
So confident has the company been that it commissioned its latest superyacht at the height of the downturn, without a buyer upfront.
Launched last month, the Majesty 135 is Gulf Craft's largest-ever Majesty Yacht. The vessel is semi-customised with an on-board lift and zero-speed stabilisers, as well as a bamboo veneer interior, gold-plated fittings and marble and granite finishes throughout the vessel.
The company is the Middle East's and Africa's largest and leading producer of fibreglass boats and yachts, exporting more than 70 per cent of its yachts to 40 countries through the Majesty Yachts brand, as well as the smaller Oryx and Silvercraft brands.
It was founded in 1982, and today produces vessels ranging from 6-metre runabouts and sport fishing boats to its Majesty 41-metre luxury motor yachts. It can turn out some 400 boats of varying sizes per year. Its turnover last year was US$100m.
The yard, in Umm Al Quwain, has more than 92,903 square metres of production space and employs more than 1,400 people. It ranks as one of the world's leading manufacturers and exporters of fibreglass leisure craft, one of a handful of boatbuilders with the capability to produce yachts of more than 30 metres in overall length.
Local trade has been down in recent years. But even though according to the latest World Wealth Report published by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini the Middle East had one of the highest growth rates after Africa, and the number of people with more than $1m of wealth rose by 10.4 per cent to 440,000, the region's high-net-worth individuals are not buying. However, the same is not true in Asia.
Demand for luxury yachts in China, for example, is growing, and with a million millionaires in the country, according to a Hurun Report last May on wealthy Chinese, the nation's new rich are looking for other ways to flaunt their assets. But the number who own yachts is still relatively low.
The number of luxury powerboats and yachts in China is expected to increase by more than tenfold to more than 10,000 by 2015, said Zheng Weihang, the secretary general of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association. In January, one of the world's leading luxury yacht makers, Ferretti of Italy, announced that China's Shandong Heavy Industry had agreed to pay $4m for a 75 per cent stake in the company.
Shandong, which makes commercial vehicles, construction machinery and other heavy-duty industrial products, believes Ferretti offers the company "strong strategic value", its chairman, Tan Xuguang, said of the deal. He added: "Developing the yacht business is one of the group's strategic goals for the next five years."
Mike Derrett, a marine consultant working for Gulf Craft, said: "Europe isn't buying at the moment. Nor is the Middle East. The business is in Asia."