Fleet of hundreds at Dubai yacht show

Dh299m superyacht among 400 boats as leading companies gather for highlight of regional season

United Arab Emirates - Dubai - March 9, 2010:

NATIONAL: Vendors and private boat owners show off their luxury yachts at the Dubai International Boat Show 2010 in Dubai on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. Amy Leang/The National

DUBAI // There were floating homes, police vessels and even shark repellents on sale as the Dubai International Boat Show opened yesterday. But the biggest price tags were on the superyachts, among them the ?60 million (Dh299m) Silver Zwei, which had taken just 11 days to arrive from Australia. The boat, 73m long and with a top speed of 27 knots, was one of the main attractions.

There were 26 other superyachts moored at the Dubai International Marine Club, alongside 400 smaller vessels. Daryl Wakefield, the president of the US-based company Westport Yachts, was showing boats in the 34m range, which cost around US$10 million (Dh36m). "We didn't come here to hit a home run but we want to get our foot in the door," said Mr Wakefield. The show marks the high point for yacht sellers in the region, but comes on the heels of the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show, which attracted plenty of visitors but few buyers.

James Haffey, the general manager of the Hatteras Collection, said he expected to sell two yachts at the Dubai event. "This is the boat show to be at," he said. "We have the company president, the head and vice head of sales over from the US. This show is so important on the international boating calendar. "All the deals that have been worked on for the year will be closed between now and the summer."

More affordable fishing boats and pleasure yachts were also a draw. Steven Jones, 37, took time off from his banking job in Abu Dhabi to get more information on wakeboarding boats. "I'd love one of these larger pleasure yachts but obviously they are out of my budget," he said. "My friends have boats and they always take the family out at weekend and spend it on the water. I see it as a fun investment."

Also on display was the Jetlev Flyer, a water-run jet pack flying machine, priced at ?129,000. The company, which has set up a training facility in Ghantoot, reported a lot of interest. "It is possibly the first time ever to be able to fly like a bird individually, as you wish," said Rob Cox, the sales manager for Pearl Watercrafts, the machine's local distributor. About 100,000 people are expected to visit the show by the time it closes on Sunday.