Dubai International Boat Show 1
Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the Dubai International Boat show 2019 at Dubai Canal, Jumeriah, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Boat manufacturers are seeing increased demand and orders for superyachts from the Middle East.

“The Mideast has the highest uptake in the world per head of wealthy people, which means the willingness to buy is highest in the region,” Farouk Nefzi, marketing and brand director at Feadship, told Gulf News on the opening day of the 27th edition of the Dubai International Boat Show.

The show, which welcomed more than 450 yachts and boats from around the world to the Dubai Canal, was inaugurated by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

The event will run from until March 2 and has Dh1.5 billion worth of boats for sale.

Nefzi said that 52 per cent of the billionaires living in the region have a yacht.

“The lowest willingness to buy is in the Asia Pacific as they are getting used to the new wealth and they are not used to yachting. Slowly they are buying yachts,” he said.

Moreover, he said that 2017 was another record year for the billionaires with 165 globally, registering a growth of more than eight per cent, according to Forbes.

Out of this, he said 105 billionaires are in the Asia Pacific region.

“The shift of wealth is moving to Asia Pacific and it is important for the industry to refocus its activities. It looks like the market is picking up but it is not yet showing in the deliveries. The orders that are being booked take a few years to be delivered. What we see is the first uptake on the trend but that is only about three or four yachts,” he said.

In 2018, he said that 63 yachts were delivered globally. Out of that, he said that only seven are between 90 and 100 metres and only 12 between 60 and 80 metres.

Even though 40-60 metre yachts are the largest in volume, the 60-80 metres and 80-100 metres are growing each year, he added.

“Since the economic crises, we have been seeing a decline in sales in the industry until 2017 but in 2018, there was a recovery. I am not sure whether it will be a continuous trend but it is a positive sign. Shipyard orders are picking up but still lagging behind in number of deliveries,” he said.

Alessandro Tirelli, sales and marketing director at Ferretti Group, said that his company has been recovering since the economic crises with the UAE providing a major lift.

“What we are noticing is that consumers are inquiring about larger sizes, 70 metres and above. For us, the UAE is the biggest in the region, followed by Kuwait and Lebanon. We don’t expect our sales to double when compared to 2018, but we see a small increase,” he said.

Kiran Jay Haslam, marketing director of Princess Yachts, said that the Mideast is an important market and people are buying yachts above 70 metres.

“The interesting trend in the Middle East is that both Kuwait and Bahrain have really come alive. Mideast contributes 9-11 per cent of our annual production. Our order books worth $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) are full until 2020 and procurement after September 2021,” he said.

However, Nefzi said the market is going to continue in a similar way for a foreseeable future.

If Asia Pacific gets consumed to yachting, then he said the industry will see a “big increase” and that is expected to happen in five years.