Million-dollar themed yachts set for wealthy Arab market

British designers tout Grand Prix- and island-themed yachts to rich Arab buyers
The themed yacht Tropical Island Paradise features a beach, palm trees and luxury pool

The themed yacht Tropical Island Paradise features a beach, palm trees and luxury pool

If the idea of a standard $1m luxury yacht has always struck you as too boring a symbol of wealth, perhaps one that comes complete with its own waterfall, volcano and palm tree might appeal.

Welcome to the world of themed yachts – luxury boats with designs inspired by subjects as varied as the Monaco Grand Prix to the five-star Hotel de Paris. The company behind these designs, UK-based Yacht Island Design, offers wealthy buyers the chance to create their yacht from scratch. Now they’re bringing their skills to the Middle East market.

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“We’re hoping clients will be inspired by our current concepts and come to us with their own ideas,” said Rob McPherson, director of Yacht Island Design. “We hope Arabian clients will be able to see our flair and design flexibility which could be applied to their specific tastes.”

The company’s first design was a 155m yacht themed around the streets of Monaco. The anchor for the boat is a recreation of the Monaco race circuit, accompanied by a version of the Hotel de Paris, and a replica of the Prince’s Palace – to house the owner’s private apartments.

The ‘Tropical Island Paradise’ yacht, meanwhile, includes a private beach with a waterfall cascading from the main swimming pool, and a personal volcano.

The yachts typically come attached to multi-million dollar price tags, but Yacht Island Design said it is “very difficult” to put an estimated cost on their themed designs.

“The cost of production will vary heavily dependent upon final specification and also which ship yard is chosen by the owner to build the yacht,” said McPherson. “Generally this figure is kept confidentially between the owner and the ship yard.”

The world’s largest yacht is the 557-foot “Eclipse,” built for Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich, at a reported cost of $484m. Until 2011, the world’s longest yacht was owned by

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and reportedly includes a helipad, a submarine berth and a glass spiral staircase connecting its VIP suites.

Other luxury yachts include the 453ft Rising Sun, owned by US media mogul David Geffen and reportedly worth at least $200m. The boat includes a wine cellar, basketball court and movie theatre.

Other notable luxury yacht owners include Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, whose 473ft boat includes bespoke artwork by American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.

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