How the 2022 Dubai International Boat Show has elevated the global yacht industry

To understand where the Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS) stands on the world stage, just take a short stroll along Superyacht Avenue during the 28th edition of the show. Held at the Port of Dubai last month, you’ll pass creations from some of the world’s leading yacht builders, including Sanlorenzo, Ferretti, Gulf Craft, Azimut, Princess Yachts, Lürssen, Oceanco and Benetti, among others.

The five-day show hosted by the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) from March 9-13 had a new base in the Port of Dubai this year – a significant upgrade given that the location has 700 berths and, more importantly, can accommodate vessels up to 160 meters in length.

According to data shared by DIBS, the MENA region is home to 12.6% of the world’s superyachts, the second highest fleet-to-billionaire ratio in the world. “DIBS is an important gateway to a region which not only has a population with significant purchasing power and an appetite for large yachts, but which also sees some of the most ambitious and exciting coastal development projects visitors from countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Maldives are an important part of the DIBS visitor profile for Triton,” says Craig Barnett, Triton Submarines Sales and Marketing Manager. At the show, he launched a new collaboration with Shadowcat for a compact launch and recovery vessel equipped with a Triton 3300/3 MKII submersible.

Mohammed Hussein Alshaali, President of Gulf Craft
Mohammed Hussein Alshaali, President of Gulf Craft

Mohammed Hussein Alshaali, chairman of Gulf Craft, the UAE’s local yacht manufacturer, amplifies Barnett’s thoughts on the show. The show saw the company kick off its 40th anniversary celebrations which saw the launch of the Nomad 70 SUV and the 40cc Silvercat. It also announced the Majesty 111 concept, while its Majesty 120 also made its debut at the show. Gulf Craft was among the largest exhibitors at the show with 14 vessels on display from its Majesty Yachts, Nomad, Oryx Sports Cruiser and Silvercraft brands.

“The Dubai International Boat Show is now recognized as one of the top three most influential boat shows in the world,” says Alshaali. “This is our ‘home show’ which we have been a long time supporter of since its very first edition in 1992. This is an important event, not only for us as a brand, but also for the global yachting industry. in its entirety. It shines a light on the United Arab Emirates by showcasing not only what the country offers in terms of marine lifestyle, but also the government’s efforts to position Dubai as a global destination for leisure tourism. Significantly, the maritime sector of Dubai would represent 26.9 billion Dhs of the GDP of the emirate.

Image Courtesy: Craig Barnett

With a total of 34 launches and exhibitors from 54 countries at DIBS 2022, it showcased over 800 global brands. The show’s appeal was not just in its location, but in the caliber of audience it attracted. “The Middle East is one of the most important global markets due not only to the strong economic growth of the region, but also to the strategic value of shipyards aiming to make an impact on the international nautical scene,” said said a spokesperson for the Italian yacht manufacturing company. , Azimuth. Azimut presented three of its main boats: Grande 27 meters, Grande 32 meters and Azimut 78. “This importance is reflected in sales, Azimut having recorded a growth of 47% in three years in the Middle East, now 25 percent of the enterprise market.

A marine way of life
Beyond the yachts themselves, there were other major developments that ran through the show. Among these were four residents of the United Arab Emirates and members of the Arabian Ocean rowing team who announced their intention to cross the Atlantic Ocean – a 5,000km journey from La Gomera to port English in Antigua – unassisted in a 45 to 60 day trip they will undertake this December.

Additionally, the day before the show started, the Middle East Yachting Conference was held ahead of DIBS, with relevant topics such as empowering women in the yachting industry, the role of cryptocurrency in industry and also the threat of cyberattacks on superyachts.

A big goal though, and one that resonated through the show, was the theme of sustainability. A seaplane called X-Pearl which uses a hydrogen-electric hybrid propulsion system, designed by French company SeaBubbles, was unveiled at the event. SeaBubbles has signed a Memorandum of Understanding at DIBS with Al Masaood Power Division to manufacture these zero-emission vessels that can accommodate up to 12 passengers and can be used as water taxis. Additionally, Sunreef Yachts showcased its electric propulsion technology through its Sunreef80 Eco vessel, while Faro Boats’ 5 Solar Set positioned itself as the world’s first marine set to incorporate a 100% sustainable electric boat and a dock. solar charging. The Dutch shipbuilder Feadship took advantage of the show to highlight its 268-meter concept, Pure, which will have its own propulsion system.

Despite the general optimism at the show, the challenges facing the marine and yacht building industry were not overlooked. A consensus among many of the attendees was the supply chain challenges, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has undoubtedly affected the entire global supply chain,” says Alshaali of Gulf Craft. “For us, the shortage has certainly impacted our production times as we import a lot of raw materials from around the world, manufacture our boats, and then export the finished product around the world.”

Triton’s Barnett adds that geopolitical machinations have only compounded the industry’s woes. “After the inevitable Covid-related crisis, the large yacht sector rebounded with record numbers in 2022. Unfortunately, the current crisis in Ukraine could prove to have a chilling effect for two reasons: from the point of view of confidence UHNWIs on the near future of the geopolitical landscape, as well as global inflation and oil prices driving up costs (already higher due to Covid) among suppliers in our supply chain,” adds- he.

Speaking just before the show, Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Events Management at DWTC, noted that the industry had somehow found a way to overcome its obvious hurdles. “The challenges of the past two years have sparked a desire for a more outdoor and spatial lifestyle, which in turn promises new growth opportunities for the industry. The boating industry has continued to thrive during this period, while building on its ability to attract a larger and more diverse buyer base,” notes LohMirmand.

Despite the headwinds, the industry is reporting record numbers. Triton said it had its best sales year ever in 2021, and Alshaali says that for Gulf Craft too, last year was “a banner year” in terms of sales. “The US market, which we entered three years ago and which has seen strong performance in 2021, will be a key focus with the Majesty and Oryx brands. Alongside the US, we are also targeting further growth in 2022 with an increased presence and expanded sales channels in Saudi Arabia and Australia,” confirms Alshaali.

Regionally, countries in the Middle East are expected to be increasingly lucrative for global players in the industry. “The Middle East represents significant growth for Azimut, with enormous development potential with a particular focus on Saudi Arabia which is seen as a market with excellent growth prospects and opportunities for eventual expansion,” observes Azimut’s spokesperson.

The tailwinds are definitely going in the right direction for the industry.