From left: Greg Stinner, CEO of ART Marine, Erwin Bamps, CEO of Gulf Craft, Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council and Mahir Abdulkaim Julfar, Senior Vice President Venues Services Management of Dubai World Trade Centre during the Press Conference of Dubai International Boat Show 20th February 2018 at Bulgari Hotel and Yacht Club. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

DUBAI: Yacht manufacturers and salespeople are shrugging off concerns about a decline in lavish spending throughout the Gulf, pointing to the number of planned waterfront projects, and the region’s cultural affinity for the sea.

The comments come ahead of next week’s Dubai International Boat Show, returning for its 26th year.

“My concern is not so much whether people have the money for yachts, my concern is whether they are in to boating or not. That isn’t something that goes away with more spending or less spending,” said Erwin Bamps, chief executive of Gulf Craft, a luxury yacht manufacturer based in Ajman.

In some other countries, there are people with plenty of money to pay for a yacht, but really are not into boating, Bamps told Gulf News. “A boating interest is a more important factor than money” in the company’s long-term outlook, he added.

Gulf Craft will be exhibiting three new models at the show, according to Bamps, including one superyacht. The CEO declined to go in to specifics about the model, but a boat that measures between 79 feet and 230 feet is typically classed as a superyacht.

The 282-feet long Chakra by Scheepswerf Gebr. V, one of the largest yachts on the charter market, is expected to be on display at the event this year, with its team hoping to catch the eye of a wealthy visitor, who can afford its $562,270 a week rental price.

Also on show will be the 236-feet long Serenity, from builder Austal.

Boat sellers in the region say that despite the negative sentiment that exists in the market, the appetite from ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) for luxury superyachts has not diminished at all.

The sellers add they have not suffered a drop in sales from the political changes in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. The kingdom has ushered in a new period of austerity, trying to escape the image of unbridled luxury it has become known for.

“When the market is down, people sell off their yachts as they’re the ultimate luxury. We are not seeing that, so we’re confident in the strength of the market going forwards,” a senior executive said, asking not to be named.

In terms of the luxury marine sector, the UAE is placed ninth globally for superyachts in production in 2018, with 14 new builds with a combined length of 611 metres being manufactured in the Emirates.

According to Dubai Cruise Tourism, Dubai will welcome one million cruise tourists by 2021, with berth supply climbing in parallel.

Projects like the Dubai Harbour, Marinas at Mina Rashid, and the Dubai Canal have created new destinations for yacht owners, and officials say that for the first time in nearly 10 years, supply of space is on track to meet growing demand.

“Dubai has a long history of seafaring going back generations to the days when the city was the centre for pearl industry. This connection with the seas remains today, with new harbours, marinas and waterfront developments at the heart of Dubai’s plans for the future,” said Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council.