DUBAI – The fast growth in the local leisure boat market is being sparked by the numerous waterfront developments in Dubai, a source in the industry told Khaleej Times yesterday.
An estimated 25,000 new berths for boats will be built over the next five years in the UAE. In Dubai alone, mega- projects such as the Dubai Marina, The Palms and the Dubai Festival City will feature large marinas, capable of hosting thousands of boats.
“The general demand in this region is for boats which are usable for watersports, fishing, diving and snorkelling; multi-functional boats which are suitable for beginners and advanced drivers,” the industry official said.
According to the Gulf Boating Market Report, this strong incline in marina leisure is projected for the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. Around the Gulf, experts estimate one boat for every 423 local people.
Leisure fishing is on of the main drivers for boating in the Gulf, due to the traditional aspect of fishing and pearl-diving in the past. However, with the increasing number of overseas property purchasers in Dubai, imported boats from leading European and US builders are on the increase. Sailing boats, which have had only a small market share in the Gulf in the past, are showing an increasing trend in the UAE.
The market leader in the supply of leisure boats in the Gulf is the UAE-based Gulf Craft, which has built some 4,500 boats in twenty years of production and has a boat park market share of 16 per cent. Bayliner, a member of the UK Brunswick Boat Group, has the largest share of the imported boat park with an estimated market share of 3.6 per cent.
Italy-based manufactures Azimut, Ferretti and Pershing and Princess and Fairline from the UK are the most established brands in the region.
There are currently three Arabic boating magazines, The World of Yachts and Boats, Bahry and Knotika, besides a few web sites that service the marine leisure market.
World wide, it is estimated that 30% of the world’s mega-yachts are owned by AGCC nationals, yet many keep them in the Mediterranean.
Local and international banks have been quick to realise the opportunity, offering a range of financing options for potential boat owners.
UK-based HSBC requires a 30 per cent down payment and a valid boat and life insurance. The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) also offers two types of boat financing loans.
This year’s boat show, scheduled from March 14-18, is set to break records with over 90 per cent of exhibitor space already booked, and more than 25,000 visitors anticipated.