The trend in the marine sector is very much that ‘bigger is better’, and we have seen the major yacht and boating shows allocate more berths to superyachts and megayachts than in previous years. Our decision to develop larger vessels has been motivated in part by such observations, as well as by growing interest from our existing clients. Earlier this year, we started building the Majesty 175, our first foray into megayachts which will be completed in 2019, as well as the Majesty 200.
We have not felt the impact of market uncertainty when compared to other sectors, partly because of the demographic we serve and our expansion into larger yachts at a time when demand for them is increasing.
In terms of trends, our customers are realising the importance of environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility. However, tackling issues such as pollution will require large-scale coordinated efforts between marine-related sectors, from oil to shipping and tourism. While the Middle East is behind other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, in terms of sustainability, it has teamed up with organisations, such as the World Ocean Council and Emirates Wildlife Society, to better safeguard the seas.
Generally, the firm is concerned that consumer confidence, particularly in the luxury goods sector, will continue to be affected by economic factors. The introduction of VAT is also causing confusion in the GCC markets. On a regional level, 2018 will be a challenging year. Our customers’ purchasing decisions are not only determined by how much money is available. People prefer to spend when markets are stable and may exercise caution if that is not the case.
While we will continue to monitor regional financial forecasts, we anticipate growth for Gulf Craft, as we continue to expend effort on geographical diversification without losing the core Arabian Gulf market. Improvements within the international marine sector within the past year have given further cause for optimism, and we feel this upswing will enhance our emphasis on world markets over the next 12 months.
The firm is also excited about Expo2020, which will showcase the country’s core industries. Such initiatives should be a platform for Emirati achievements, and the UAE’s leadership has been very positive in terms of fostering creativity and encouraging its people to aim high. For instance, the Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Leadership Programme (ALP), which we sponsor, is a GCC-wide scheme from the Ajman government that mentors graduates from the region. The principle is something we very much believe in: nurturing local talent.
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