x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dubai set for new wave of yachting luxury

An upcoming boat show in Dubai will feature the largest collection of luxury yacht builders.

A 38-metre Sunseeker yacht was on display at the Dubai International Boat Show last year.
A 38-metre Sunseeker yacht was on display at the Dubai International Boat Show last year.

Dubai will roll out the red carpet for owners of luxury yachts with an exhibition in March, with which it hopes to capitalise on the region's position as the home of almost one third of the world's super-yachts.

Some of the world's major yacht builders, including Fincantieri of Italy and Luerssen of Germany, will take part in the Dubai International Boat Show from March 1 to March 5, at the Dubai International Marine Club - Mina Seyahi.

Grant Burgham, an exhibitions director at the Dubai World Trade Centre, which is the organiser of the event, said the Middle East was home to some of the world's highest net-worth individuals, and the market was "perfect" for the high-end marine leisure industry for super-yachts, generally defined as boats longer than 23 metres, and "giga-yachts" - those more than 100 metres in length. "It is an excellent opportunity for the super-yacht buyers in this region to connect with the elite of the industry."

Two years ago, the luxury boat sector was suffering from slack business and lay-offs brought on by the global downturn. That spurred a wave of distress sales as owners rushed to raise cash to pay down debts. At the beginning of this year, 4Yacht Arabia, a brokerage, estimated that 40 per cent of the approximately 150 yachts offered in the UAE were distress sales.

But with global stock markets on the rise and business activity around the world growing, the outlook for big-ticket luxury goods is improving.

This month, business jet manufacturers represented at the Middle East Business Aviation show in Dubai reported improved confidence, even if sales volumes have been slow to recover.

The Dubai boat show will host the biggest gathering of Superyacht Builders Association members in the show's history, organisers said, including the constructors Amels, Benetti, Burger Boat, Heesen Yachts, Oceanco, Sanlorenzo and Trinity Yachts.

Manufacturers are increasing their focus on the Middle East as new marinas, critical to growing sales for the industry, are being built. There are more than US$35 billion (Dh128.54bn) worth of waterfront projects in the pipeline across the region, say the show organisers.

In addition, the UAE is also home to a growing number of yacht builders, such as Abu Dhabi Mar, which is retrofitting two former frigates into VIP luxury craft.