Dubai International Boat Show visitors seek sustainability and privacy

Opening day of maritime extravaganza welcomes fleet of superyachts to Dubai Harbour

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Sustainability might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about luxury superyachts.

But that is what most people considering buying superyachts are concerned about right now, according to experts gathered at the first day of the 30th Dubai International Boat Show.

The National spoke to industry insiders who said it was not uncommon for potential buyers to avoid the usual luxurious trappings of a superyacht if it failed to deliver on sustainability.

Our clients today are concerned with the environment
Abeer Alshaali, deputy managing director, Gulf Craft

"The drive towards sustainability is down to the regulation that's coming in to push it, and also because consumers are very interested, especially after seeing the growth spurt with electric vehicles," said Abeer Alshaali, deputy managing director of UAE-based superyacht manufacturers Gulf Craft.

"Clients still want that level of luxury but they understand that comes at a price [to the environment] and that the price might not be worth paying.

"That means they are looking for sustainable solutions."

One example of how superyacht manufacturers are providing those solutions is by providing touches such as onboard carpets made from used fishing wire.

30th edition

This year's boat show started in Dubai on Wednesday afternoon, featuring more than 1,000 brands and 200-plus boats from internationally renowned shipyards.

Dubai Harbour was packed out with a fleet of superyachts worth millions of dirhams.

Among the companies with boats on display were Azimut, Sunseeker Gulf, Gulf Craft, Finnmaster, HP Watermakers, Oceano and Althaus Yachts.

"Our clients today are concerned with the environment, they are concerned with having more [energy] efficient boats and the maintenance and service," Ms Alshaali said.

Privacy on superyachts is a rising trend

Potential buyers also appear to be increasingly keen on making their boats a homely environment.

"There is trend right now to look for family-friendly boats that provide [the opportunity for] quality time," Ms Alshaali said.

"I think Covid-19 taught a lot of people that quality of life really matters. And it taught a lot of people that they want to make sure their home environment is comfortable and that they are happy.

"[These boats] are a home on water – it's an expansion of your home environment."

Who is buying superyachts?

"Superyacht clients are often people who grew up with boats and can now afford to buy the larger yachts and want that as part of their lifestyle," Ms Alshaali said.

"Others are also people interested in investing.

"People who buy a superyacht often only use it [themselves] for two to three weeks of the year and put it out to charter for the rest of the time."

Longer cruise times

Superyacht owners are also now more likely to take their boats on longer voyages than before, said another expert at the boat show.

"They're not going out for a one or two-day cruise, now they're aiming for a week or 10-day cruise minimum," said Michel Torbey, sales representative in the Middle East for yacht manufacturers Sanlorenzo.

"People are looking for bigger boats than before as well.

"They want more room for the family to go on bigger excursions than perhaps they're used to.

"Everyone wants bigger boats since the pandemic."

However, if you are thinking of buying a superyacht of your own, you might want to start saving.

Although a luxury yacht can be priced in the single digit millions, Mr Torbey estimated you would need at least €30 million (Dh119 million) to buy your own 'superyacht'.

A sense of adventure

While sustainability and spending more time with family members are growing factors in deciding to buy a boat, for many it's still the adventure and sense of fun that remain the main lure.

That was according to Michel Antoun, sales representative with Grande Marine Ships and Boats Trading.

"People still want luxury. They want to discover the sea and reach that faraway horizon," he said on the sidelines of the boat show.

"They still want to have those adventures. It's the younger generations that are more concerned with the environment."

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:13 PM