With the impressive commercial expansion in waterfront properties, the boating business is riding a wave.

With more than 400 boats on display and an impressive 20 per cent growth in registrations, this year's boat show is the biggest since its launch 15 years ago.

Currently in its 16 edition, the Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS) has registered 20 per cent growth, making it the largest in its history and one of the most internationally significant marine leisure industry events of the year.

Running from March 11 to 15 at the Dubai International Marine Club - Mina Seyahi, the size of the show and the number of dedicated sector areas have risen up this year, with up to 400 boats on display, the highest number since the show was launched in 1992.

"With the spectacular economic growth and commercial expansion in the waterfront properties in Dubai and other emirates, the boat and yacht market is on a definite up-swing. The developing infrastructure in the marine sector has given impetus to the boat and yacht market.

The marina and waterfront housing projects in Dubai and other emirates are catalysing growth in the region," says Moinudin Durai, Manager, Western Marine. Western Marine will display its premium brands such as Marquis, Carver, Aicon, Jeanneau and Windy at DIBS this year.

"The Dubai International Boat Show appeals to a global audience, and is particularly relevant for marine leisure enthusiasts from the Middle East, India and the CIS.

These regions are among the fastest-growing globally, so the potential for business development is huge for companies across all sectors and areas of specialisation," says Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre, organisers of the event.

New launches

A new section for rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), inflatables and tenders, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the marine leisure industry, will be launched at the DIBS this year. Leading companies such as Capelli, Emirates Inflatable Boats, Joker Boats, Kimera, North West Marine, Royal Tender, Sealegs and Yamaha will be participating in this dedicated area.

The show will also feature an increased equipment supplies and services area which will bring together local and international companies. On offer are the latest innovations in every product sector, a wide range from fixtures and fittings to the latest hi-tech communication and navigation equipment.

Ultimate luxury

"On the luxury, supplies and services side of the show, the finest super yacht and luxury custom boat builders from around the globe, as well as their suppliers and service providers will exhibit.

They will be accompanied by renowned interior designers, charter, brokerage and waterfront developers detailing new marina projects," says Marri.

Another attraction and new feature to the boat show this year will be a fashion show with companies presenting the latest marine clothing and accessories.

The key to the growing popularity of marine activity in the Gulf region is the massive growth in the number of reclaimed island sites and waterside developments.

It is projected that in 2008, the number of people having access to waterside developments across the region will grow with the opening of Palm Jumeirah's first marina project - Anchor Marina, to the launch of marina berths in the first phase of the $2.5 billion Pearl-Qatar in Doha.

"This boat show has great potential for Larson and Princess Yachts with the largest display of both manufacturers' products in the Middle East. Larson Boats are displaying eight boats including exciting 2008 models examples the Sports, Senza, LXi and the Cabrio ranges," says Timothy Leese, General Manager, Leisure Marine Middle East - distributors of Princess, Larson and Nedship boats in the GCC.

Knotika Holdings which houses 60 marine brands in its Knotika Marine Mall in Al Quoz aims to address shortfalls and create market awareness. Says Wael Juju, CEO, Knotika Holdings, "With the growth of the marine industry, shortages of storage facilities are expected. Our participation in DIBS is to introduce a new concept of vertical yacht storage.

Vessels that measure up to 80 feet are stored vertically using overhead cables and automated lasers. Two of these facilities are currently operational in Fort Lauderdale and we are in discussion with various developers in the UAE to popularise this concept."

The Egyptian display

Egypt is seeing impressive growth in new maritime projects which in turn has attracted high demand for leisure boats, with local and international customers looking to invest in the market.

There has also been significant growth in orders for leisure watercraft for Egypt's boat builders and distributors including the Sahl Hasheesh Marina and Port Ghalib Marina in the Red Sea, as well as the 480-berth Porto Marina in El Alamein.

As the market continues to strengthen, Egypt-based manufacturers are producing more high performance and luxury boats to cater to the demand. Visitors to DIBS this year will see an impressive display from Egypt-based exhibitors.

"The marine industry in Egypt is witnessing exceptional growth and we look forward to welcoming several of these key manufacturers to the DIBS. With more maritime projects in development, the show continues to attract a high number of visitors and prospective buyers from Egypt and North Africa, where a huge variety of state-of-the-art yachts and equipment will be showcased," says Joanne Cook, Industry Group Manager, DWTC.

One of the Egyptian exhibitors this year is Alexandria-based DeBirs Yachts, which specialises in the construction of 25-30 metre custom fibreglass luxury motor yachts.

"DeBirs has seen a great increase in demand for super yachts thanks to new marina projects and exposure important global events like the Dubai International Boat Show.

For over ten years, relationship building continues to be one of our key tasks at the show and we look forward to developing even stronger links with new and established clients this year.

"Egypt is positioning itself as one of the most desirable boating locations in the world with new marinas and waterfront developments being built.

Our participation in DIBS is crucial and enables us to reach a range of potential customers from around the world," says Tarek M. Ragheb, Chairman, DeBirs Yachts.

Shama Marine Industries, one of Egypt's largest privately owned and managed manufacturers of fibre glass motor yachts, launched its new 30 metre luxury super sports yacht at the show last year.

"Egypt's coastline continues to be an attraction for residents and international visitors, which is reflected in the growth of the marine industry in the past few years," says Amr Sedik, Marketing Manager, Shama Yachts, "This demand has had a tremendous impact for our company and with our participation at DIBS, we want to increase our presence across the region."

Due to the increase in marina space on Egypt's coastline, many owners are choosing to moor their boats in Egypt rather than in the Mediterranean, as they would have traditionally done. "Because of the reputation that DIBS holds as one of the most important boat shows in the Middle East, our participation allows us to meet new international and local companies who could have an interest in our products as well as display our portfolio to an impressive number of visitors at the show," says Sedik.

Other entrants

North American brands will also dominate the show's external area this year with a big display of boats. Visitors can see small to medium sized craft to high speed power boats to fishing and small pleasure boats in brands such as Bayliner, Cigarette, Doral, Formula, MasterCraft, Maxum, Monterey, Moomba and Searay.

AlGhanim Marine of Kuwait will showcase the high speed power boat, Cigarette, and Macky Marine will have an exciting line up of Formula sports boats and Monterey bowriders. Kuwaiti company Al Shaya will represent Moomba and Qatari based Oceanic Marine with MasterCraft.

Dubai-based Aquaspeed Boats will premier some of their boats, including the largest ever display of Doral boats in the Middle East, and the Bayliner 300 SB Cruiser by Emirates Yachting.

Visitors can also see the best example of style, performance and versatility, with the 2900 Maxum, which will be presented by Azure Marine, distributors of Bladerrunner, Pearl Bladerunner, Pearl Motoryachts, Finngulf, Hunton Powerboats, Absolute and Maxum Sportsboats.