By Andy Sambidge
Leading industry players say orders healthy for larger vessels, Mideast is most courted buyer market
More Middle East superyacht owners are trading up for bigger vessels as the industry emerges from the global slowdown.
Leading industry players - in Abu Dhabi for the 3rd Abu Dhabi Yacht Show which runs until March 26 - confirmed a shifting trend towards larger yachts within the industry, with the Middle East continuing as one of the most courted buyer markets.
Erwin Bamps, COO of UAE-based shipyard Gulf Craft said the global order book for 2011 indicated the greatest demand for superyachts was in the 70-100ft category which saw a 34 percent increase since 2007, a year with a very similar number of global yacht orders.
Orders are still 25 percent compared to a 2009 peak in the larger yacht category, but are much stronger than orders in the 45-70ft category, which are 60 percent down on 2009.
According to Bamps, the move from smaller yachts to increasingly larger sized vessels in the region - moving from 40 footers up to 50 to 70 footers and above - "represents a natural trend to upgrade among superyacht owners in the Middle East".
Constantinos Constantinou, President & CEO, Art Marine agreed that data on recent sale transactions supported the claim that bigger yachts are more in demand.
"Sales are trending towards the larger segment. In terms of both unit sales and in terms of the length of yachts sold -global brokerage market data indicates that there is an increase in transactions at the larger end of the scale."
"Today, the smallest yacht in the list of the world's top 100 largest yachts is 226ft - there is a definite upward movement in length," he added.
The increase in Ultra High Net Worth Individuals globally, as well as in their average wealth was driving the growth in the superyacht market, he said.
"There is a certain amount of wealth fatigue in the UHNWI category - having reined in spending over the past few years, the market is loosening up again, the rich are once again looking to spend," said Constantinou.
He revealed that seven of the top 10 superyachts in the world currently belong to Middle East owners, almost all of whom are private owners or members of royalty while 28 out of the top 100 largest superyachts are owned by Middle Eastern customers.