Boat enthusiasts explain the appeal of sailing in the UAE

In the same week as the Dubai International Boat Show, Bimal Bhatia and Felicia Agmyren share why they love boating in the UAE.

Bimal Bhatia on his Gulf Craft Majesty 56 yacht at Dubai Marina. Reem Mohammed / The National
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Bimal Bhatia has always been drawn to the tranquillityof the open seas.

“I’ve been a marine man for as long as I can remember: it’s a passion-turned-profession,” says the Dubai resident, who’s the director of international affairs at Nasco Insurance Group.

“Being on the water is a different world altogether — it provides a soothing environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and it takes socialising to another level.”

Bhatia, who currently lives a short walk from his second home — his Gulf Craft Majesty 56 yacht — has been a yacht owner for the past 12 years.

“I [have] upgraded in size throughout the years, starting with a smaller yacht, and then slowly upgrading to the Gulf Craft Majesty 44, and now the Majesty 56.”

The boating enthusiast says he uses his pride and joy at least twice a week, whether for short cruises to see the lagoons or to host dinner guests.

“I am more into social yachting. It is all about being able to entertain on the water,” he says. “Most of my yachting consists of local cruising, from the World Islands to the Burj Al Arab, where I really enjoy anchoring and having ­dinner.”

Bhatia, who is a certified skipper and a member of the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, says he gets a kick out of gathering his loved ones together to enjoy the “magnificent views of the Dubai skyline meeting with the iridescent waters of the Arabian Gulf”.

Felicia Agmyren, from Abu Dhabi, is a more low-key boatie. She owns a Barracuda, which was originally a fishing boat, but has been modified to suit her needs.

“We added tables and a stereo, seats and a shower hose, a canopy with two engines with the idea that we can take it out into the middle of the sea and just float on our own little island,” says ­Agmyren, who adds that she tries to get out on the water as much as possible.

“It is one of my favourite places to be. I love the islands and beaches you can find about 10 to 15 minutes from Al Bateen Marina,” Agmyren, a managing partner at the Abu Dhabi-based Rex Real Estate, adds.

Having owned the boat for the past six years, she says that the learning experience was a relatively big one.

“It is a constant learning experience. If you haven’t been out on the water yet, it is an immediate must — it’s a beautiful scene out there. Abu Dhabi is a beautiful archipelago, complete relaxation for the eyes. I think you will fall in love,” she says.

Bhatia and Agmyren both use their boats year-round, and wouldn’t give up the lifestyle for anything.

“It is a form of luxury,” says ­Bhatia. “[Boating] is a destination in and of itself, a place you go to escape the pressures of the daily grind.”

For Agmyren, it’s the sense of community that she enjoys, as well as the calm, tranquil experience of being on the water.

“I think what I notice the most is the general friendliness of fellow boaters — out at sea, people wave, they recognise one another. People don’t generally wave to you in traffic on land.”