Families Drive rising Small Boat Sales Across GCC

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Industry experts converge at 8th Gulf Boating Conference at the Dubai International Boat Show 2014 to share insights on the buoyant marine market

As 60% of GCC youth spend more than seven hours of quality time per week with family, boating provides an all-inclusive experience with sport, beach and land activities


Families seeking to spend more quality time together are driving rising small boat ownership across the GCC, according to industry experts at the 8th Gulf Boating Conference at the Dubai International Boat Show 2014 held today.

The 8th Gulf Boating Conference, themed “Achieving Sustainable Development in the GCC and Beyond,” bills itself as the region’s largest annual maritime networking session, attracting key individuals and exhibitors who drive foreign direct investment in the region’s leisure maritime market.

Across the GCC, the extended family is a centre of support, with 60% of youth spending at least seven hours of quality time per week with their family, according to a report from Booz & Co.

“Boating provides an all-inclusive family-friendly experience, including watersports and swimming, beach activities, and activities on land like barbecues at marinas,” said Captain Toby Haws, Marina Manager of the Emirates Palace Marina in Abu Dhabi, and the organiser of the 8th Gulf Boating Conference. “As more families come to the UAE for infrastructure projects and Expo 2020, they are increasingly moving into maritime developments, further encouraging small boat ownership.”

Thanks to a combination of higher personal spending and the announcement of new maritime developments, families are increasingly turning to leisure marine activities. During boating or fishing trips, children can gain responsibility, stay active, and learn new skills that last a lifetime, while families can create lifelong memories together, according to the United States-based Recreational Boating & Fishing Association.

Small boats are increasingly affordable to GCC youth, who hold a relatively high per capita GDP of USD 32,000, according to a 2013 report from Mashreq Bank. In response to consumer demand, a wide range of maritime developments are under construction across the GCC, especially in Dubai, providing safe inland waterways and modern boat accommodation.

“Dubai is one of the world’s leading markets for real estate investment, with families increasingly looking to live in the city’s maritime developments,” said Laura Choueri, CEO and Founder, Choueri Real Estate. “Maritime developments provide great views, relaxing waterfront promenades, and berths for small boats for families to go on boating trips or play watersports. As the UAE continues to grow as a residential and tourism destination, maritime developments will continue to see strong demand from consumers.”

In Dubai, the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina are being complemented by The Lagoons, The World, the Palm Deira, Business Bay, and the Dubai Creek extension. Both Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah are also seeing strong growth in maritime developments, according to the 8th Gulf Boating Conference participants.

“The leisure marine industry in the region, especially the UAE, has a very positive outlook,” said Paul Lane, Managing Director, UAE Office, International Waterfront Consultants. “Past projects are fulfilling many initial objectives, and new projects are moving forward to provide true lifestyle propositions — with a renewed focus by governments and developers to deliver ‘the vision’ balanced with sustainable commercial reality.”

Abdulla Al Noon of the Dubai Creek Marina opened the conference, while additional presenters included Nawfal Al Jourani, Adel Kalantar, and Mohammad Al Bastaki from the Dubai Maritime City Authority on regulations and safety procedures; and Mike Derrett of Mike Derrett Consultancy on marine and yachting projects in the region.

Following the presentations, attendees participated in three breakout sessions: “Yacht Brokers and Dealerships” with John Bush and Brett Noble of Bush & Noble; Bruno Meier of ART Marine Marinas on “Marina Design and Operation,” and SSDS Risk Management on “Superyacht and Security.”

The 22nd Dubai International Boat Show 2014 is open to trade visitors and the general public from 3pm – 9.30pm daily from 4-8 March, 2014, at Dubai International Marine Club – Mina Seyahi.

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