x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Making dreams stay afloat

The Life: Fancy swapping the open road for the open sea. the Dubai International Boat Show might help you make the switch.

The superyacht by Riviera.
The superyacht by Riviera.

If a luxury sports car does not pack enough power or prestige for your tastes, you can trade up for a floating palace instead at the Dubai International Boat Show.

Dozens of yachts lined the docks of the Dubai International Marine Club at Mina Seyahi yesterday, the first day of the five-day show.

For those who want to make a majestic mark on the open seas, the superyacht by Riviera - the biggest boat of them all at the show, measuring almost 200ft - is making its maiden voyage on to the market. But for those eyeing a more "practical" vessel, Gulf Craft has launched the Gulf 95 Exp, a 95ft superyacht that is wider and more akin to a lofty apartment rather than a machine built for zipping through azure waters.


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The Gulf 95 Exp, with its wide rooms, large windows and outdoor eating area, comes with a price tag of Dh16 million (US$4.3m).

Erwin Bamps, the chief operating officer of Gulf Craft, says the world's wealthy are out buying boats again, but their preferences are shifting.

"Three years ago you would find people coming in looking for fast cash and fast boats. That's the best way to describe it," he says. "They were looking for the design, profile and styling of a boat over the practicality of the design. But the clientele that are still buying today, because there are still people who have the money to afford a boat, these people are actually looking for comfort rather than speed. They're looking for luxury and a relaxed environment rather than the sports coupe style."

The superyacht-owners club is an elite crew with just 3,800 boats more than 80ft in length floating around the world, according to a 2008 Superyachting index compiled by the Luxury Institute and Camper & Nicholsons International. High-net worth individuals steered clear of yacht purchases last year, manufacturers say, but now they are back on course, says Mr Bamps.

About 11 yachts will be launched for the first time globally from Dubai's shores during the show. More than 750 companies and brands from 42 countries are showing off their range, from fishing boats to palatial superyachts.

Landlovers need not fret, however. Luxury cars such as Rolls-Royce's Phantom Drophead Coupe will be at the show's Supercar Promenade as well.