Yachts Marina to open in April

Yachts will begin docking at the new Emirates Palace marina by the beginning of April

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ABU DHABI // Yachts will begin docking at the new Emirates Palace marina by the beginning of April.

Yesterday, representatives from Emirates Palace and ART Marine, a marine hospitality management company, announced the official opening of Yachts Marina. The marina takes up part of the hotel's two kilometres of coastline, and can dock up to 167 vessels.

Already, ART Marine has received multiple inquiries from yacht owners, according to Constantinos Constantinou, the president and chief executive officer of the company.

Abu Dhabi is now further positioned to become a destination.

"Before it was only boats coming from around the region; now it is from different countries, and heading to different marinas in the UAE," said Salem al Muhairi, who represents the owners of Emirates Palace.

The price for permanently docking a boat at the marina is still being determined, but Mr al Muhairi said it would be "cheaper than some options in the UAE".

He stressed it was not about competing with other marinas, and instead about building a "destination".

Yacht owners will be able to take advantage of the same amenities offered Emirates Palace guests.

No other marina in the UAE offers these services, according to Mr Constantinou, but he said: "It's not that services are offered - other hotels will eventually do similar things - it's the quality of the services."

"At the end of the day, this is an exclusive address so the number of berths are not infinite, and we will keep the numbers low," Mr Constantinou said.

Prices will be based on the size of the yacht, according to Wael Bittar, the marketing director for ART Marine. To help keep the surrounding waters clean, only yachts that meet certain environmental standards, including those involving waste disposal systems, will be allowed into the marina.

The marina is part of the UAE's recent efforts to attract more marine tourists. A recent report by Booz & Company expected demand for marina moorings in the region would more than double by 2015, to about 82,000 berths.

The report also projected that in the next 15 years, the Middle East and North Africa region would have to make investments of at least US$200 billion (Dh734.62bn) to meet demand.

Abu Dhabi is developing its own marina infrastructure, particularly on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island. The emirate has proposed an eventual 45 marinas of various sizes.

Later this month, the annual Abu Dhabi Yacht Show will take place in Yas Marina. The event focuses on superyachts, with the vessels typically ranging in size from 25 metres to 100 metres, and from $5m to $100m in cost. The event is expected to attract more than 7,000 visitors.