More than 80 percent of the world’s largest yachts are owned by Gulf nationals, with the Abu Dhabi royal family alone holding eight of the top 50, a leading industry expert told Arabian Business.
Abu Dhabi royals topped the list as having the most extensive range of superyachts.
“Together, their total value is greater than the GDP of a small country,” manager of the prestigious Emirates Palace Marina Toby Haws said.
“[They] own their own marinas and the largest yacht in the world called Azzam, which is built in Germany with four or five gas engines to make speeds that a boat that size shouldn’t.”
Azzam literally means “Unwavering Resolve” in Arabic, and while some media reports suggested the yacht had been bought by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, Arabian Business can reveal the new recording-breaking superyacht is heading for a home in the UAE.
This year Azzam took over the title of the largest superyacht in the world, beating Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s famous mega-yacht The Eclipse. The $592m vessel has an unprecedented length of 180 metres and is still able to reach top speeds of more than 30 knots.
The top two new entrants to hit the water in 2013 both belong to Abu Dhabi nationals. After Azzam, the largest entrant is at number 11: Swift135. She is a 135m motor yacht and is due to be launched from ADMShipyards in Abu Dhabi.
Swift135 will offer accommodation for up to 60 guests and is also capable of carrying up to 56 crew.
“If you buy a boat, it is a contribution to the economy. You are creating jobs in the market,” Haws says.
“For a 100-metre yacht, for example, a crew of three full-time people is required. One staff member is paid $2000 per month and a captain is paid $330 per metre on the boat.
“People see the yacht and see the leisure, but they do not realise the economic impact you have”.
Haws worked for Boats International before managing the Emirates Palace Marina and one can clearly hear the passion in his voice as he talks about boats and the yachting industry as a whole.
In the UAE, the Emirates Palace Marina is considered by many to be the most prestigious berthing location for a luxury superyacht.
“There are no charges for parking, but it costs $70,000 to keep a yacht there for a year. We’re more of a luxury private dock than a commercial [dock]; we are not the cheapest,” Haws says.
“104 metres is the biggest we currently have, but 140 metres is the maximum. Soon we will have a royal invite to all GCC leaders.”
According to Berend Lens van Rijn, CEO and founder of Belevari Marine LLC, the yacht industry has an immense impact on the economy, not just onboard, but also in the vessel’s berthing dock.
“Yas Island lives on this,” he said. Their annual rates start from $4,500, which includes an F1 berth.
Charter boats are known to go from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, and Haws hopes that Dubai will soon be part of the annual season for charter boats.
“This has not been the case yet due to registration, legislation and awareness issues. GCC nationals are known to be very subtle about owning a yacht. They don’t like to announce it, and usually keep it on the Mediterranean.”