Dubai Boat Show: inside the floating mansion for hire with helipad and beach club

Superyacht ‘Moonlight II’ makes a splash as event returns with new look, in new home at Dubai Harbour after Covid-enforced hiatus

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Some of the world’s top superyachts have this week sailed into town for the Dubai International Boat Show.

But there was one megayacht to rule them all.

Moonlight II is so big it dropped anchor outside Dubai Harbour – the new home of the boat show.

The 91.4-metre vessel designed for entertaining on an elite scale can carry 36 guests in 18 cabins along with 35 crew and is equipped with a cinema, helipad, spa, beach club, lift, Jacuzzi, gym and a room for a number of jet skis.

The six-deck boat is not for sale, is owned by an Emirati and is being operated as a luxury yacht for charter. Boats of similar size sell for €80 million to €90 million ($88.3m-99.3m).

The National was granted rare access to the superyacht by its operator – Burgess Yachts - on the first day of Dubai Boat Show.

It costs as much as €644,000 a week to rent a week – that doesn’t even include fuel or food but does grant you luxury and privacy.

We push out past Dubai Marina and JBR skylines as Skydive Dubai planes fly overhead and dock at the boat's “beach club”, a lounge area for watersports. Two wings drop down on either side of this so people can use jet skis, kayaks or even go scuba diving.

Moonlight II was built in 2005 in Onex Neorion Shipyards in Syros, Greece and runs at cruising speeds of 13 knots, propelled by two diesel engines.

It has two lifeboats and its two anchors, each weighing two tonnes, keep the superyacht firmly secured, allowing the guests to retire to cabins featuring plasma screens.

Who rents 'Moonlight II' for a week?

This was not disclosed but expect a mix of high earners from traditional sectors such as oil and gas to techies to even cryptocurrency gurus.

Burgess Yachts can devise itineraries for those with the pockets deep enough, with a tour of the Arabian Gulf and into the Sea of Oman to Muscat among the most popular for a week’s rental.

Standing at the bridge is Captain Arni Brzac. He is a veteran of the industry, having worked in commercial shipping for years before switching to superyachts.

“It is very challenging,” he said of the career switch to ferrying around the super-rich. “It is like a complete turn. But I prefer superyachts and I prefer the challenge. But forget the word 'no'. No is not a word in our vocabulary.”

The superyacht is among the scores of luxury vessels on display at the Dubai Boat Show until Sunday. It is back after missing two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in a new home at Dubai Harbour.

The event, now in its 28th year, is about 20 per cent bigger than 2019 in terms of companies and exhibitors, organisers say. It features 800 brands and vessels from more than 54 countries in a region that is home to 12.6 per cent of the world's superyachts. The show’s "superyacht avenue" will showcase about 50 of the vessels from some of the world’s leading companies such as Feadship, Majesty and Nomad.

Arni Brzac, captain of the 'Moonlight ll' yacht. Pawan Singh / The National

Visitors will be able to witness launches from brands such as Gulf Craft, Sunreef Yachts, Al Daen, Blue Gulf Boats and Al Fajer.

Other innovations include urban hydrogen flying boats, which operate with foils that lift the hull clear of the water; electric powered boats; and “e-foils”, which are essentially surfboards that enable riders to travel above the water.

“What the city missed in not having a boat show was made up for by people taking boats out to discover the great outdoors,” said Trixie LohMirmand, executive vice president of events management at Dubai World Trade Centre, organisers of the event.

Sea trials of boats for interested clients take place for the first time, while an increased focus on marine lifestyle, leisure and futuristic gadgets draws in more people than in previous years when the show was more trade-focused.

“Covid has changed the recreation preferences of people," said Ms LohMirmand. "Some of the clients will tell you the past two years were the best for them in recent times. While we were not able to run the boat show, it provided a great opportunity for people to take the boats out and discover. The last two years gave Dubai and UAE the time to prep for the big comeback.”

Dubai Boat Show runs at Dubai Harbour until Sunday and is open to the public. Tickets starts at Dh35 for adults. For more information visit

First vessels arrive at Dubai Harbour in 2020 - in pictures

Updated: March 10, 2022, 6:12 AM