Last week’s event was held at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi

The 13th Middle East Yachting Conference, held last week at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, gathered more than 75 leaders from across government, business and tourism to dissect how the yachting industry and the GCC’s regulatory authorities are working together to reinvigorate the region as a global yachting hub.

According to the conference organisers, the Dubai International Boat Show: “Forward-thinking maritime regulations, an increase in the number of foreign vessels and new technology are all contributing to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rise as one of the world’s most prominent maritime hubs.”

The organisers also added: “The Middle East Yachting Conference 2019 hailed the speed at which changing regulations are boosting the UAE’s global maritime appeal. Panellists praised the country for attracting foreign yachts in a bid to become a global maritime hub citing forward-thinking maritime regulations, an increase in the number of foreign vessels and new technology as contributing to the UAE’s rise as one of the world’s most prominent maritime hubs.”

The conference was held under the theme ‘Navigating the Future of the Superyacht Industry’ and stimulated discussion on the UAE’s push to become an increasingly attractive yachting destination as well as delivering updates on emerging national maritime regulations.

The organisers stated: “Despite the UAE’s deep-rooted ties with all things marine and maritime, one common theme emerged from the day’s discussions – which was it is imperative for all stakeholders to work together to create the right infrastructure, backed by regulations, for the benefit of the industry. With the global yacht industry set to be worth $74.7bn by 2021, the GCC aims to be well-placed to ensure maritime regulations and infrastructure match the demanding expectations of the growing sector.”

Distinguished panellists and speakers highlighted how changes to maritime and tourist laws were changing the standing of the Middle East – Dubai in particular – as a chartering hotspot and helping to attract more foreign vessels to the region.

The conference started off with opening remarks from Ali Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi who said: “We believe that Abu Dhabi has a unique proposition for superyacht owners, the initiatives we have implemented will, we hope, increase our appeal by streamlining the process of accessing Abu Dhabi’s waters as well as incentivising longer stays in the Emirate, and encouraging further exploration of the UAE capital’s natural beauty, attractions and world-class events.

“Our ultimate aim is to establish Abu Dhabi as a regional hub for superyacht operations and activities. In order to achieve this, we have cast -off many of the previously restrictive procedures, and streamlined the application process, working in collaboration with the Department of Transport to reduce administrative requirements and red tape wherever possible.”

Jan Timmerman, CEO of Superyacht builder Royal Huisman, said: “Technology is defining the superyacht of the future. Insights delivered through artificial intelligence will increase the safety and comfort of superyachts while having a marked effect on costs. The yacht of the future is a smart yacht.”

Other panellists and speakers at the conference included Hamed Hassan, Director, Registration & Licensing, DMCA; Mohammed Al Khaabi, Cruise Head, DCT; Captain. Saif Rashed Almheiri, Acting Executive Director Maritime Sector, DOT

Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Events Management at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), which organises the Dubai International Boat Show, stated: “The Middle East Yachting Conference shows the multi-faceted transformation of modern boating. Evolving regulations, coupled with a forward-thinking approach from the UAE’s authorities, are making the country an increasingly attractive destination for international yachts.”

The 28th edition of the Dubai International Boat Show will run from 10-14 March 2020 at its new home in Dubai Harbour.