UAE superyacht builder wows the Cannes glitterati with its biggest vessel yet

Gulf Craft, one of the foremost luxury boatbuilders in the world, has given a European debut to its largest 'floating villa', the Majesty 155, at the Cannes Yacht Festival in France.
The Majesty 155 enters the port of Cannes in France. Courtesy : Gulf Craft
The Majesty 155 enters the port of Cannes in France. Courtesy : Gulf Craft

The UAE superyacht specialist Gulf Craft has unveiled its 47-metre Majesty 155 on its European debut amid the beautiful people at the Cannes Yachting Festival in France.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the French Riviera, the firm’s biggest “floating luxury villa” is also the largest vessel on display at the Cannes event.

It is also a lot of money. Last year, the company told The National the model sells for US$25 million, although customisation could inflate that figure.

For those with smaller wallets, the company offers cheaper superyachts such as the 37-metre Majesty 122, a snip at $11m at last year’s prices. For that you get five bedrooms, which each sleep two people, plus room for five crew, a large seating area for guests to unwind and a dining area complete with chandeliers.

“The idea is to mimic basically a very luxurious villa on the water,” says the Gulf Craft chief executive Erwin Bamps. “When you are on board you really don’t feel you are on the water, unless you look outside.”

He means that literally, because the boats have a system to counter the movement of the waves – so if a storm is raging outside you won’t know it. And even if your John Calleija crystal and diamond glass is filled to the brim it will not spill a drop, says Mr Bamps.

Also on its European debut in Cannes is Gulf Craft’s newest tri-deck offering, the Majesty 110, which offers three-decks of semi-customisable space.

The Cannes Yachting Festival welcomes approximately 50,000 visitors every year and is considered Europe’s premier in-water boating event, with nearly 600 boats on display in their native setting.

It is a good venue for superyacht builders to showcase their wares to the limitlessly pocketed potential buyers. According to the latest Wealth Report by Knight Frank, Europe is home to the second-largest population of ultra high net worth individuals, with a collective wealth of approximately US$$4.6 trillion.

However, The National reported last month that the value of private wealth in the Middle East and Africa region is forecast to grow to $11.8tn by 2020 from $8tn last year, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Millionaire households, which accounted for more than half of the region’s wealth last year, are expected to boost their share over the next five years.

Demand in the Arabian Gulf helped Gulf Craft to log in a 5 per cent increase in revenue last year.

The Middle East region contributes 50 per cent of its revenue due to the region’s affinity to superyachts, while Europe chips in between 20 to 25 per cent share and Asia Pacific and South East Asia with 25 to 30 per cent.

Still, even with more money than most could spend, clients eyeing a floating super-status symbol want to know their mountains of cash will be well spent.

“Europeans have always been intrigued by the idea of venturing out to sea. However, today, ‘value’ has become the mantra of the market – customers want to know if you can give them more for their investment,” says Mr Bamps.

“A shipyard’s credibility in the eyes of a prospective owner no longer relies solely on the builder’s positive track record, but also on its ability to deliver value for money. I believe our commitment to do this without compromising on quality, and while simultaneously creating bespoke experiences for our customers, is what drives our business to succeed in the most difficult of times. It is also what propels our achievements during economic prosperity.”

Globally, more than 450 motor yachts were sold last year, bringing more than $3 billion, according to the broker Camper & Nicholsons. The number of yachts stretching more than 40 metres-long increased by 7 per cent last year from 2014.

With a 1,600-strong workforce, Gulf Craft churns out on average 400 boats a year. That is a far cry from its humble beginnings as a maker of fishing boats when it was set up in 1982 by the Al Shaali family.

“We see demand for our product growing drastically on a global scale and that is great news, which means we can leverage risk,” Mr Bamps told The National. “This has allowed us to invest with a little bit less worry.”

At the Cannes show the perma-tanned mega-wealthy, or the merely curious few lucky enough to attend, can visit Gulf Craft at stand number SYE-232 at the Cannes Yachting Festival, at Vieux Port from until September 11.

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Published: September 7, 2016 04:00 AM


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