UAE Boat to Population Ratio at a Low of 1 to 700

Published March 21st, 2010 - 06:21 GMT

Through the financial crisis that swept over the global economy, the boating industry saw business slide 30 percent with inventories rising well above demand, leading to a softening of prices, especially for European and American based producers whose economies are still stuck in a state of recession.

This situation however has put boat producers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in a unique situation. A young, ambitious population, coupled with a low boat penetration rate of 1 to 700 on average, as compared to the ratio in the United States that stands at 1 to 54, presents an attractive formula. Added to that, the geographical cost advantages and recovering oil-based economies place producers here in a position of competitive advantage, globally.

One such producer that is looking to take full advantage of this situation is the Abu Dhabi-based boat producer, Emocean Marine. Since its inception only a year ago and at the height of the global recession, Emocean has managed to establish itself as a global player through creative boat design, aligning itself with quality international brands and increasing its sales through international distribution channels.

“We were not as affected by the global recession because we came into the market knowing the extent of the financial crisis and its subsequent effect on the industry. We could therefore adapt our cost structure better to the prevailing situation as we did not have any historical costs to worry about,” said Hamad Bachi, CEO of Emocean Marine.

Emocean, which recently launched the Charm 27, a first of its kind ‘pocket yacht’ (due to its optimized use of space and yacht-like features), at the Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS), foresee a stronger 2011 as boat manufacturers adjust to the new business climate and customer demand criteria.

“Our extensive customer research shows that first time boat buyers are currently in the market to get value. They can now get their hands on quality boat products with better service offerings at lower prices,” continued Bachi. “To that end, we have developed financing offers, including Islamic financing options, for customers and to date, about 80 percent of our sales have been bank financed.”

In the UAE, there are no empty marinas. And with new government safety regulations such as GPRS safety tracking and emergency services, the country is becoming increasingly attractive for a unique marine lifestyle.

“Despite of our young age, we are already present in three European markets and the Levant, however we still see our growth coming from within the UAE in specific and the GCC in general, driven primarily by the low boat penetration rate, improving marine infra structure and the creativity that goes into bespoke design that speak to today’s consumers,” he concluded.

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