Dubai International Boat Show 2014 Indicates Robust Marine Sector In UAE

Five years back in 2008, commercial and sports maritime culture in UAE was picking up, yet experts believed, market was far off from the actual market potential. The passion which UAE had for luxury items such as exotic cars, helicopters and private jets, then was not effectively translating in case of marine (boats and yachts). Nonetheless, given the socio-economic construct of UAE, it was anticipated that market would soar sooner or later.

Fast forward in 2014, our team headed by Waqas Siddiqui (Managing Director), visited the 22nd Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS) to conduct some ground research. The team confirmed that the prediction of marine experts were right as research findings indicated that UAE along with other Gulf countries have transformed into one of the largest market for commercial and sports marine.

To delve further, the exhibition that was held from 4th to 8th March at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) was an instant hit amongst the visitors. A staggering 840 companies from 50 different countries participated in the exhibition confirming the magnitude of the event and the favorable sentiments of global players about Dubai considering it to be a fertile market.

The exhibitors, captured a range of sectors and sub-sectors, comprising of different kinds of yachts and boats, fishing equipment, water sports equipment, accessories and services and boat charter companies.

nirvanaWith a nominal entry fee of AED 60 (USD 16.5), the event showcased a total of 430 boats and 19 super yachts worth AED 1.8 billion (USD 490 million). Prime attraction was 88.5 meter long super yacht Nirvana (Image in the right), meaning complete peace and tranquility in the oriental world, followed by 88 meter long Quattroelle.

The event was also associated with a total of 42 global and local launches. By the time of our visit, numerous high profile deals were closed including one of the grey colored super yacht , which was sold at AED 97 Million (19 Million Euros) to the Royal family of UAE, as revealed by one of the designer of the yacht. In addition, there was also heightened interest towards smaller ski and fishing boats.

The event, which is a leading maritime exhibition in the Middle East region, attracts a large number of national, regional and international companies and visitors. In its 22nd Avatar, it attracted over thousands of visitors from numerous nationalities. The event was also associated with high voltage PR and advertising reach, estimated at AED 107 million (USD 29 million), including myriad gifts and prizes such as free limo and scuba diving vouchers, Soccer World Cup tickets along the unique helicopter rides.

The overall atmosphere of the event was very positive with visitors encompassing of marine sport aficionados, designers, businessmen and general public. Many respondents stated that there was incredible rise in marine activities and the event was very beneficial in networking with major players in the regional/global market and various marine stakeholders.

Besides, the rising interest among residents, research findings indicates few other factors driving the marine market in UAE and Dubai. Firstly, the gulf country enjoys a sunny weather across the year, which makes yachting and boating feasible all the time, in contrast to the European counterparts, where it is not possible in winter.

Favorable weather coupled with a rapidly evolving tourism, hospitality, aviation and luxury retail industries have eventually fuelled the evolution of cruise tourism and boating as complementary indulgence for the tourists and locals. Government in UAE is also taking strong initiatives to boost cruise tourism, which it believes can strategically nurture a symbiotic relationship with other evolving key sectors mentioned above. UAE is also seeking partnership with Oman to promote Gulf as a leading cruise tourism destination.

Secondly, it has witnessed development of seaside properties such as Palm, Dubai Maritime City, Palm Jebel Ali (under construction), Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence in the recent past. Some of them are even owned by sea enthusiasts, who prefer spending sailing in the Arabian Sea. To capitalize from such rising trends in marine sector in UAE, various marine training and education companies were also present offering numerous theory and practical courses in operating and driving boats and yachts.

Thirdly, it is believed that the price of yachts and boats are reasonably priced in UAE due to their relatively low manufacturing cost, which also stimulates buyer from other parts of the world such as neighboring Iran, Pakistan, Other GCC countries along with Australia, Britain, Belgium and Italy etc.

Besides, yacht and boats trading, another significant dimension of the event involves its usage as an effective networking platform. This could be probably explained from the fact that more than 5000 VIPs and royalties visited the event making it a fruitful ground for nurturing meaningful business relationships.

The boating event witnessed exhibitors from other sectors such as real estate, banking and finance, hospitality, event management, home furnishings, automobile and IT as well. It was observed that numerous real estate and investment advisory companies were keen to be present in the event so that they can capitalize on the inflow of high volume of High Net worth Individuals (HNWI). It is important to note that due to economic recovery, rise in rental and winning of the bid to conduct World Expo 2020, it is believed that UAE/ Dubai’s real estate market is recovering smoothlyafter the debacle due to global economic crisis. Hence in a recovering market, real estate and investment advisory companies believed that their presence is important in terms of attracting HNWIs that visited the event.

Brewing up our overall research, it could be concluded that the overall environment driven by economic growth, paradigm shift in leisure activities, government initiatives and investments; appears conducive towards growth in marine sector, which involves commercial, sports and leisure segments.

Author: RKonnect
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at
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