Where there is Dubai, there is spending: international buyers keep UAE's superyacht market afloat

Published December 4th, 2014 - 11:37 GMT
Demand is rising as prices of newbuild superyachts become more sensible compared to numbers six years ago,
Demand is rising as prices of newbuild superyachts become more sensible compared to numbers six years ago,

Superyachts in the UAE have caught a wave of fresh interest over the last year from residents of the Arabian Gulf, Russian and European tourists.

The market for superyachts, which are more than 30 metres in length, has bounced back from the 2008 financial crisis. “We see a consistent growth in the [boating] market rather than a boom,” said Erwin Bamps, chief executive of Gulf Craft, an Ajman-based yacht and boat maker.

Demand is rising as prices of newbuild superyachts become more sensible compared to numbers six years ago, according to Francesco Pitea, chief executive of SF Yachts, a Dubai-based company offering yacht brokerage services. He added that the cost of a typical superyacht is “at least $15 million (Dh55.09 million)”.

According to data from Boat International Media, 361 superyachts have been sold globally so far this year compared to 355 in 2013.

The newbuild superyacht market is picking up, while the pre-owned market is slowing down, according to yacht dealers and brokers. “The new builds are more attractive for customers — prices are not very different from used ones,” Pitea said.

Similarly, Gregor Stinner, chief executive of Art Marine, a UAE-based yacht dealership and marina operator, said that the pre-owned market has been “thinning out” over the last two years.

“This market is thinning out because the best boats available in the market have already been sold. [It] was very strong after the financial crisis because people wanted to sell,” Stinner said.

Art Marine is in talks with 12 buyers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, other Arab countries and Russia for yachts measuring between 40 metres and 90 metres. These are priced between 24 million euros (Dh108.57 million) and 90 million euros.

SF Yachts said it sold three superyachts in the last six months to customers from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Pitea said that sales of superyachts in the UAE this year are similar to numbers before the financial meltdown. However, Stinner said that it will take time before that happens.

Gulf Craft expects sales to grow by 15 per cent this year compared to 2013. The company has a global market share of around five per cent, Bamps said.

He said Russians are still positioning their superyachts in the UAE. The falling rouble, which has lost close to 35 per cent of its value against the US dollar so far this year under the weight of Western sanctions, has deterred some Russians from travelling.


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