x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Rising economic tide lifts UAE boat makers

A Sharjah-based boat builder is among those cashing in as improving fortunes across the Emirates encourage more people to splash out on vessels.

Nour Al Sayyed, the head of design and production at Al Marakeb, says they are struggling to keep up with local demand for mid-range boats. Jaime Puebla / The National
Nour Al Sayyed, the head of design and production at Al Marakeb, says they are struggling to keep up with local demand for mid-range boats. Jaime Puebla / The National

It is a case of a rising economic tide lifting all boats.

A Sharjah boat builder is cashing in as improving economic fortunes across the Emirates encourage more people to splash out on vessels.

The builder, Al Marakeb, says it is struggling to keep up with local demand for its mid-range boats as sales surged 45 per cent last year with the sale of 51 vessels.

“Market demand fell in 2007, but by 2009 it was recovering,” said Nour Al Sayyed, the head of design and production at Al Marakeb. “People here love boats. Our customers are families, both Emiratis and expatriates, people who love diving or fishing and companies which organise water sports.”

Demand for the boats is so strong that Al Marakeb said it had a two-month waiting list to begin work on any new order.

Ms Sayyed says that the boats themselves retail for Dh30,000 to Dh175,000 while the motor is likely to cost about the same again.

Some 65 per cent of its sales have been to buyers in the UAE, with another 15 per cent going to customers in the larger Middle East and 20 per cent sold internationally.

Last year, Dubai’s used boat show reported an increase in visitor numbers from 4,500 in 2010 to about 7,000 last year.

And it is not just mid-range boats for which demand is surging.

Gulf Craft, the UAE’s only maker of super yachts, is also reporting strong sales. Last year the company announced that it had started work on its biggest project to date, building a 47-metre vessel slated for completion next year.

Meanwhile, next month’s Dubai International Boat Show is set to feature the largest number of luxury boats in its 22-year history, with 30 luxury craft exceeding 21 metres on display.

lbarnard@thenational.ae