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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Super yachts make waves at Dubai International Boat Show

Live music, luxury yachts and water sports all part of the festivities as annual event takes over the emirate

From glistening multi-million dirham super yachts to a glimpse at a new marina mega project, the Dubai International Boat Show made a splash on its return to the emirate.

The 27th annual seafaring celebration got underway on Tuesday, with an eye-catching fleet of hundreds of vessels on show.

Boat builders and craftsmen from across the globe are exhibiting the latest marine innovations at the event, which runs until Saturday.

The 120-foot Motor Yacht O proved one of the top attractions on day one, but potential buyers will need to have deep pockets to secure the luxurious motor cruiser, which is on the market for Dh62 million.

Impressive vessels docked in Dubai include the Foiler ‘flying yacht’ that propels itself above the waves using a hydrofoil and James Bond-style underwater propulsion aids.

The annual show is bedding in at a new destination this year, near Dubai Ladies Club in Jumeirah, but has the usual armada of luxury yachts on display.

Live music and artists will keep visitors entertained throughout the five-day event, while water sport demonstrations, a fishing competition, lavish parties and the UAE international aquabike championship on Saturday are also on the agenda.

On Tuesday, Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed took a tour of the show, taking the time to admire various yacht interiors.

He also looked over a scale model of Dubai Harbour's 1,100 berth marina. The Meraas development, which will will fit neatly between Dubai Marina and the Pearl Jumeirah, will boast a lighthouse and an exclusive yacht club.

Just how many super yachts will occupy those berths remains unclear, as orders for luxury boats are down on the 2009 yachting heyday.

Mohammed Alshaali, chairman of Emirates-based yacht and boat builder Gulf Craft, said despite a slow down in mid-sized yacht orders, larger vessels are still in demand by the super rich.

“The mid-size yachts, say 50-80 footers, have been badly hit,” he said.

“When the 2008 global financial crisis hit, there were so many of those size boats on the market.

“That crisis put a lot of those yachts back on to the market, and that has hindered the production (and demand) of new boats for a long time.

“The big yachts are still in demand. The rich people are still rich, and they are still buying the super yachts.”

Boat builders at the show confirmed global orders were down, a reflection of economic uncertainty around the world.

Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyards said global orders of 40 metre yachts in 2018 were almost half of that in the peak period of 2009, when the company was making about 75 deliveries a year.

But the demand for bigger, supersized luxury yachts is increasing.

The company said less than 5 per cent of its total yacht sales in 2009 accounted for supersized vessels of at least 80 metres in length.

In 2018, more than 10 per cent of its orders were for yachts of that size.

Updated: February 26, 2019 09:58 PM

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