Next week’s event will have a strong exhibitor presence, defying a market that has been slow in recent years

Gulf Craft at DIBS 2017

Gulf Craft is one of DIBS’ longest-serving exhibitors

The boating industry in the Middle East is preparing for the 27th edition of the Dubai International Boat Show with a strong exhibitor presence, defying a market that has been slow in recent years.

“The Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS), which runs from the 26th of February to the 2nd of March, is set to host 800 exhibitors and brands from 50 countries with 450 yachts and boats at the iconic Dubai Canal venue,” said the organisers, the Dubai World Trade Centre, at a press conference this week.

“The 27th edition of the annual show will have Dh1.5 billion worth of boats for sale and visitor attractions including live jet-ski, and sailing and fishing competitions, diving displays and expert-led seminar conversations. For members of the trade, DIBS will be hosting for the first time in the Middle East the VriTthink night out, a social platform originating in Holland for the boating industry with industry experts sharing new ideas, innovation and knowledge in short five minute presentations.”

Chairing the press conference, His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and Senior Advisor to the Dubai International Boat Show, said: “Dubai International Boat Show is a key driver of the expansion of the region’s recreational maritime sector. The UAE, and the wider region, has become a global must-visit location for all watersport enthusiasts.

“As we look towards an exciting future led by next year’s Expo 2020, we are excited to bring the world to Dubai to share all that this unique, vibrant and beautiful city has to offer as a maritime destination. The Middle East is a key marketplace for the wealthiest yacht owners, with 216 superyachts registered in the region, with an anticipated wealth growth of US$12 trillion across MENA by 2021 spending power is on the rise – something that has been observed across all levels of boating investment.”

One of the longest-participating exhibitors at Dubai International Boat Show is Emirates-based Gulf Craft, which will display the 42m Majesty 140 and the 31.7m Majesty 100 superyachts together with new models from their Nomad and Silvercraft ranges.

“Dubai International Boat Show is the most anticipated show of the year for us,” said Abeer Alshaali, Executive Management Officer at Gulf Craft. “The show is a key player in the industry, and a must-attend for companies looking to reach both a regional and international audience. Gulf Craft has seen a year-on-year increase in sales leads at the Dubai International Boat Show, and we expect that 2019 will be just as successful.

“Dubai has developed its maritime industry significantly in the past few years, the city is more accessible than ever, with an expansion of coastline developments and the relaxation of maritime regulations. Now is the time to experience all that Dubai’s recreational marine industry has to offer.”

While the organisers portray an optimistic view for the boating business, citing a 50% increase in the number of marina berths and a UAE boat population of 10,000, the leisure boating sector has been slow in recent years, as revealed in IBI’s UAE market report published last December. Regionally the market has been affected by economic issues relating to the long-term decline in the oil market, a weakening real estate market and last year the introduction of a 5% VAT tax within the UAE.

On the positive side, industry lobbying is having a positive effect reducing some of the onerous regulations in the use of leisure boats, including more user-friendly visa rules for visiting superyachts and their crews.

The results from the show will be a key indicator on the state of the market after some difficult years for the boating industry.