Super-luxury yacht brands are showing up on the radar at DIBS 2023 - and plenty of buyers are waiting for them. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Super-yacht orders for the world’s leading shipyards are sailing into the record books this year – and first-time buyers have accounted for most of the sales. A lot of that is happening in the UAE and elsewhere in the region.

Which is why brands like Sunreef Yachts Shipyard are expanding into the Middle East with a new facility in Ras Al Khaimah. The 65,000 square metre yard will be built inside RAK Maritime City with an investment of Dh250 million. The production will begin in September, said CEO Francis Lapp.

Lapp said the recession in Europe and the Russia- Ukraine war had driven several high-net-worth individuals to this region. “Our focus is on servicing the GCC and Middle East markets - we also opened an office in Palm Jumeirah to service high demand from this region,” said Lapp.

Having a shipyard in this region would also help overcome supply chain challenges.

- Francis Lapp

The company has two boats at DIBS ’23 – the Sunreef 80 Eco and the 60ft Sunreef Power. Sunreef’s 80 Eco is an 80-feet tall luxury catamaran priced at 9.6 million euros. “The 60-feet vessel, worth 5.8 million euros, has been sold to a local client,” said Lapp.

A boom time for boats

DIBS is set to make waves again this year as it prepares to welcome more than 30,000 visitors at Dubai Harbour from March 1-5. This year, the show is will anchor Dubai as a vital hub for the maritime industry as it showcases super-yacht launches from Abeking and Rasmussen, Ferretii, Gulf Craft, Rivieram, San Lorenzo and Sunreef. Event organisers have said that 175 yachts and watercraft will be displayed at the event.


According to Lapp and other distributors of luxury boats, first-time boat buyers accounted for 50 per cent of boat sales from late last year and during this quarter, driving growth for the recreational boating industry. “Due to supply chain issues, deliveries are delayed by a year or two in some cases,” said Lapp. “However, interested buyers do not want to wait. They are buying whatever is available in the market and are willing to pay any price.”

In some cases, new buyers are willing to purchase pre-owned boats and keep them until the new boats are delivered to them.

Saudi Arabia is other big one in making

John Bush, co-founder of Sunseeker Gulf, said, “We have seen great growth in Dubai, with interest in models up to 100 feet, and Saudi Arabia is the next big market for us.”

Sunseeker Gulf will officially launch at the DIBS this year and unveil the Sunseeker 74 Sport Yacht XPS. An entry-level Sunseeker is worth 1.5 million pounds, and the price can increase to 20 million pounds.

“After COVID-19, many HNIs who came to the UAE stayed back and are driving the demand right now,” said Bush. “Interestingly, we have had a lot of enquiries from women buyers in the past few years.”