One-day even in Abu Dhabi calls for greater interaction between GCC countries to support superyacht market

Gulf Craft chairman His Excellency Mohammed H Alshaali

Gulf Craft chairman His Excellency Mohammed H Alshaali

The 12th Middle East Yachting Conference took place in Abu Dhabi on November 28. Organised by the Dubai International Boat Show, the event called for greater interaction between GCC countries to support the superyacht market.

The one-day conference gathered more than 50 leaders from across government, business and tourism to dissect how both the yachting industry and the GCC’s regulatory authorities are working together to reinvigorate the region as a global yachting hub.

The conference normally takes place during the Dubai International Boat Show at the end of February and is open to industry members. This year the event was by invitation only. Significantly, this year it focused exclusively on the superyacht sector and was held in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with no press invited.

Nick Craig Waller, marketing director of the Dubai International Boat Show, told IBI in Dubai: “The big takeaway for us from the results of the conference is the collaboration, the fact that the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are talking together about how to grow the industry in the UAE.”

Panelists including Gulf Craft chairman His Excellency Mohammed H Alshaali praised the UAE for implementing new rules. “The relaxing of maritime laws and an ever-growing tourist offering have been instrumental in supporting the UAE in its growth as an international superyacht and charter market” he said.

But while conceding that the superyacht market is turning in favour of the chartering industry, he insisted work still needs to be done to solidify the region’s yachting reputation.

He added: “The revising of regulations such as the recent extension of crew visas is very important. Gulf Craft has pushed hard for changes. I am glad that a lot of things are being looked at with regard to the regulation of visiting yachts, superyachts, crew and captains, and the changes so far have been very good for the industry. But still there are challenges to overcome. We’re not done yet, and we will continue to push. It is not just in our interest as a shipyard, but for the country – for tourism. Other countries rely on this type of tourism, and we should do the same.”

Asked about his business outlook on the industry, His Excellency said: “I have seen growth in the region’s industry with regard to people shifting from mid-sized to larger yachts. There are more people in the market for bigger yachts nowadays. I think the market in the region is stable. That allows us to look further towards the international market, where we are seeing growth.”

His Excellency was discussing the regional and international superyacht market alongside Dr Mohammed Al Barwani, chairman of superyacht-builder Oceanco and a group of panellists from the government and industry.

Dr Al Barwani said: “The new laws and efforts that have been made are very good. We need to encourage the charter market in the region, and regulation changes will allow more boats to visit and more boats to be chartered from here.”

Discussions covered the future of chartering, the marketing of superyachts to Generation Y, and the growth of the market both regionally and on an international scale.

The organisers stated that: “With the global yacht industry set to be worth $74.7bn by 2022, the GCC aims to be well-placed to ensure maritime regulations and infrastructure match the demanding expectations of this significant, growing sector.”

Maritime laws have recently been revised in the UAE to promote chartering. Those have included the fast-tracking of crew visas, which themselves have also been extended in duration, from 21 days to six months – making it easier for owners to put fully-manned yachts out for charter.

Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Events Management at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), who organised the Dubai International Boat Show as well as the conference, said: “As the Middle East Yachting Conference proved, the face of modern boating is changing. The 2019 Dubai International Boat Show in February 2019 is the best place to start that journey.”

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