The 20th edition of the Dubai International Boat Show was held under the supervision of Saeed Hareb which attracted thousands of visitors that came to see more than 400 yachts and boat on display at the Dubai Marine Sports Club. The show featured over 20 superyachts, 33 regional launches and 9 global premieres from some of the most prestigious names in the boating industry.
Arabian Gazette’s chief editor Moign Khawaja caught up with Saeed Hareb, CEO of Dubai International Marine Club and senior adviser to the Dubai International Boat Show, in person and found out more about the prestigious event.
Q) Please tell us a bit about the Dubai International Boat Show.
The Dubai International Boat Show has been running since the last two decades. I’ve been associated with the show since day 1. The show for me is history specially because we’ve completed 20 years and I consider this to be a big achievement. The growth of the number of exhibitors, facilities and sizes of boats is more than 14 times and the requests we’re getting for next year’s event is bigger than what we got last year.
Q) What are the reasons behind such massive expansion?
The fact that the UAE in general, and Dubai, in particular, is gaining more trust of the world. This (trust) comes at a time when the world is going through severe economic crises but our city has provided stability. And this stability is not just confined to the Boat Show but all around this place (Dubai).
But let’s just take the Boat Show for example. If you’re coming to any boat show, you need good facilities like a harbour, transportation, hotels, exhibition centre, access to the beach to name a few. Believe me, these facilities are already in place in Dubai. Big vessels from all around the world came to Dubai via the Jebel Ali port. So if you put all these facilities together, you can say that Dubai has the ideal infrastructure for such events.
Q) Do you think that the global economic crises had an impact on the Dubai International Boat Show?
I’ll be honest with you, the crises has affected the whole world. A show is always between two parties, the exhibitor and the buyer. During times of crisis, the buyer thinks about his money. He may not be ready to spend his money. In 2009, we noticed that the global recession had an affect on our show. In 2010 and 2011, thanks to the support of the government which upgraded our infrastructure and facilities, we made a recovery and this year our show has increased 15%.
The demand from the exhibitors for next year’s edition has gone up which means they trust our market which is good news not only for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members but also for the whole world as we’re at the centre point. Visitors from around the globe come to our show because they know that we’re the biggest show in the Middle East. And our aim is to have the biggest show of the world, not just of the Middle East…
Q) Did this year’s Boat Show had any specific theme?
Of course we had a theme this year which was commemorating the ’20th Anniversary’. This was very important to us because 20 years means we’ve grown stronger and became bigger and better than ever before. We’re quite pleased because after 20 years of consistent efforts, our shows are growing at a rate of 15% every year and people from all over the world trust us.
Green policies are part of our achievement because we have managed to keep this area’s environment clean and green. Today, the emphasis is on the usage of cleaner fuels and solar energy in order to be environment-friendly.
The other thing you must have noticed at the Boat Show is the marriage of luxury yachts with power speedboats.
Q) How about the response from the exhibitors? Are they pleased with this year’s turnout?
I think most of them are happy with the number of crowd. They had a good talk with people along with some serious discussions taking place. I cannot announce some figures because people might be expecting to hear something big. The Boat Show is just a point where you meet to talk. You discuss the price, have a look at the yacht and then come back to the exhibitor with your offer.
As far as the number of visitors for this year’s exhibition, our estimates suggest it is somewhere around 25,000.
Q) What was the show stopper of this year’s event?
At our Boat Show, people always come to see the super yacht or mega yacht. The good thing to observe this year was that people were interested in finding out what the local market has got on offer. One of the attractions was the Majesty 135 yacht which was manufactured here in the UAE. Many people from our country and across the GCC came to see the yacht because they wanted to see local products before the international ones and this made us feel proud.
Q) Where was the Majesty 135 yacht built?
We have a ship building yard at Umm Al Quwain which is one of the biggest manufacturers of yachts in the region with a 30-year-old history. We celebrated its anniversary last week which was a special occasion for us. When it comes to the language of the boat, we believe the Majesty or Gulf Craft have a history of 30 years behind them. This is what we believed in and what we achieved over the years. It is not like we were born yesterday and we put our boats today. We have a history of ship building of which we are proud.
Also, this boat (Majesty 135 yacht) is not made just for the local or GCC market but for the whole world. It is already under use in Australia, Italy, the United States of America and other parts of the world. Many of our other local boats are bought by people from around the world.
Q) Any message you’d like to give to boat manufacturers around the world?
I want to say to the world to trust in the UAE market and make it your target. So, next year I’d like to see more exhibitors, more brands, and more super yachts. I’d also like to announce that we’re going to increase the number of harbours and the exhibition area in order to achieve more in the future.