By Shane McGinley
Underwater crafts popular with wealthy yacht owners, firm scouts for local partner
For the GCC’s super-rich residents that are bored with their
150-ft yachts, private jets and luxury speedboats, now there's another toy on
offer – a personal submarine.
The vessels can dive to a depth of up to 100m, with larger crafts
able to seat up to three people under a transparent pressure hull. Dives can
last for up to six hours, the company said, bringing passengers within inches
of sea life and coral reefs.
UBW has seen so much interest in its submarines, it is
scouting for a local partner to capitalise on the region’s potential, said sales
and marketing manager Charlotte Schroots.
“We get [enquiries] from across the Middle East, including Kuwait,
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” she said. Clients include “private
customers with super yachts or luxury hotel resorts.”
Defying the credit crunch, the Middle East’s rich have got
richer with only the UAE notching up a decline in its wealthy population,
Merrill Lynch’s World Wealth Report 2011 said in June.
The number of dollar millionaires in the region swelled by
10.4 percent in 2010, reflecting the fastest growth rate worldwide, to
represent 400,000 people sitting on a cash pile of $1.7 trillion.
Among the Gulf states, only the UAE saw a slump in its
millionaires’ club, a decline attributed to the collapse of Dubai’s real estate
market, which wiped more than 60 percent off house prices. Celebrity clients
rumoured to own personal submarines include Titanic director James Cameron and
Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich.
Buyers with extra cash to splash can even invest in the
submarine equivalent of luxury yachts. Crafts can come with multiple rooms, luxury
fittings and can remain submerged for days.
Company US Submarines offers a range of vessels including the
Seattle 1000 that includes “ample space for independent staterooms, crews
quarters and galley, living and dining areas,” according to the company’s website.
The submarine can remain submerged for 20 days.
Also on offer – with a price tag of around $78m – is the
Phoenix 1000. The vessel has 5,000 sq ft of interior space across four levels
and is billed as being “as luxurious as the finest of motor yachts.”
I just wondered how we may explain this to the children who go to bed hungry every night?
Hal-Luke Savas MBA FCIM MBIFM ICIOB affCIBSE