It’s not just parking spaces that are becoming scarce in Dubai. Boat berths are also in increasingly short supply.
The emirate’s economic rebound is boosting boat ownership as more people take to the water at the weekend. But a shortage of berths and the cost of maintaining a boat is holding potential customers back.
“I bought a new boat last year and wanted a 11-metre berth in Dubai Marina Yacht Club, but they were completely full,” said Pooyan Farnam a sales director in Dubai. “So we got a berth for 14 metres and are paying Dh65,000 a year. I know many people who have moved their boats to Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain because it is too expensive in Dubai now.”
A wave of waterfront development under way across the emirates and wider region is set to improve the availability of berths for boat owners.
Across the GCC the number of operational marinas is expected to reach 85 by 2016, increasing the number of berths from 9,000 to 16,000.
But the current lack of spaces in Dubai is pushing boat owners to seek berths elsewhere in the UAE, with greater interest in Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. Umm Al Quwain’s Marine Club charges Dh330 per foot each year
“The shortage is there. Dubai requires more spaces” said Abdulla Ali Al Noon, marina operations manager at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, which hosted the fifth Dubai Pre-Owned Boat Show last weekend.
“There is room to create more mooring spaces and I think the government is aware of this so they are building more.”
The Dubai Marina Yacht Club has four main berthing facilities starting from Dh2,000 per metre annually for boats ranging from 8 to 13 metres. That increases to as much as Dh5,500 per metre for larger boats that range from 18.1 to 60 metres.
Projects like Dubai Maritime City, Dubai Canal and The World are expected to push up the number of spaces as well as demand for boats.
“When people are buying boats their main concern is the berthing,” said Nour Al Sayyed, architect and head of design and production at Al Marakeb, a Sharjah-based boat builder. “With more spaces opening up, not only will there be more vacancies, but it might push up boat sales.”
While in the past many owners used their boats for fishing, buyers are increasingly looking for larger vessels.
“In recent years there has been a slight change in trends,” said Ms Al Sayyed. “People want weekend boats, so they prefer to have a cabin to stay out at night, this is something that is new here and becoming very popular.”
The Dubai Pre-Owned Boat Show attracted more than 8,000 visitors this year. There were more than 90 boats ranging from Dh40,000 to Dh9 million.
“We have noticed that a lot of people are buying newer pre-owned boats from 2010-11. In the past few years it was a bit different, where customers were trying to find boats from 2006 and up,” said Mr Al Noon. “We’ve had a lot of boats come in from New York to local owners over here that have established boat-selling companies.”
Despite the costs, interest is still high. Data from the 2014 Global Order book, an annual report by the Boat International Group showed the UAE now features in ninth place on a list of the world’s top 10 superyacht-building nations.
“It is expensive everywhere to maintain a boat.” said Richard Clarkson, a product designer based in Dubai with boating experience in Canada, the Caribbean and the US. “It used to cost my family C$10,000 [Dh32,249] at least for fuel costs and docking fees and maintenance for just a few months. But here it is really worth it because you have the sun 12 months a year.”
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