The Annual Dubai Boat Show Leisure Yachting Conference Highlights Regional Outperformance

27 Feb, 2024 · 4 min read
DIBS 2024
  • Talks highlighted how Dubai and the regional landscape continues to outpace the world and the impact this is having on the boating industry
  • Nautical conference brought together more than 200 industry professionals to discuss industry shifts including smart and connected yachts
  • Sustainability a key talking point throughout the day as more heavyweights prioritise green options

The Annual Dubai Boat Show Leisure Yachting Conference successfully concluded today, bringing together industry leaders and leisure yachting experts for a day of insightful discussions on the latest trends and innovations in the yachting sector.

Running under the theme ‘How to Navigate and Win in the New Yachting Economy of the Middle East’, crucial discussions were carried out on how the region as yachting destination is outpacing the world, how to navigate a path towards sustainability in an industry now looking to contribute to national net zero goals as well as targeting Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals, amongst others.

Held at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, the conference commenced with opening remarks from esteemed dignitaries, including His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and Senior Advisor to the Dubai Boat Show, and Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Dubai World Trade Centre. These remarks set the stage for discussions on the region’s transformation into a global yachting paradise and the impact the region’s outperformance in the sector is having on the industry, driven by government initiatives and sustainable developments including the inspiring Dubai Reef.

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and Senior Advisor to the Dubai Boat Show said: “The Annual Dubai Boat Show Leisure Yachting Conference is an annual highlight, bringing together the best minds in the industry together to spark conversations on innovation. As we gear up to open Dubai International Boat Show 2024 in its landmark 30th edition at Dubai Harbour where we will have over 200 magnificent vessels, I can’t help but reflect on how far we have come.”

Key Insights

The conference provided valuable insights into sustainability, marketing strategies, influencer collaborations, commercial strategies, and technological advancements shaping the luxury yachting industry, underlining the powerful strategies regional shipyards and brokers are implementing.

Industry experts were upbeat in their assessment of the sector’s ability to ride the green wave and commercialise sustainability. They also delved into various topics, including innovative marketing strategies leading to the Dubai’s achievements, the influence of influencers, and how AI is transforming luxury yachting.

Abeer Al Shaali, Deputy Managing Director of Gulf Craft said: “Reflecting on the conference, it was insightful to see the maritime industry’s progression. The discussions around sustainable practices, technological advancements, and the evolving preferences of HNWIs provided valuable insights into Gulf Craft’s strategic direction. Embracing Dubai’s 2030 Vision for Sustainability, we remain dedicated to playing a pivotal role in shaping a more responsible and innovative future for yachting.”

The Green Wave

Further, panel members discussed the progress being made in harnessing advanced green technology developments to make luxury yachts more environmentally conscious and agreed that more rigorous emissions regulations would propel shipyards into producing eco-friendly yachts opening up new avenues for profitable ventures.

Visitors to the conference heard that developing sustainable opportunities would also impact the pulling power of eco-friendly travel destinations, particularly among the growing sustainability-minded youth sector, with Gulf states emerging as likely winners.

Yousuf Lootah, Acting CEO of Corporate Strategy and Performance Sector, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, commented: “As Dubai continues to grow in stature as a leading marine tourism destination and a global superyacht capital, we look forward to the continued expansion of Dubai’s marine ecosystem and infrastructure over the next 10 years. This aligns with the aspiration of our visionary leadership and the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure. Dubai Reef, one of our city’s most ambitious and inspiring projects yet, will play a vital role, as we remain committed to supporting our ESG and UAE NetZero 2050 goals and advancing the transition towards a green economy, with the aim of making Dubai the best city to visit, live and work in.”

The Future of the Gulf and Its Customer

The Gulf was earmarked as a leading yachting capital with delegates highlighting Ras Al Khaimah’s multi-billion-dollar Wynn Al Marjan Island, Saudi Arabia’s $2bn Amaala Yacht Club and NEOM’s Sindalah Island as yachting hubs which are redefining standards in the industry.

Michael Breman, Sales Director – Lurssen Yachts said: “We have seen how the customer has morphed from a ‘yachtsman’ to a ‘lifestyle-r’ who is seeing yachting as the ideal space to share with family. While many customers remain conservative and careful – it is a niche market, we are witnessing that shift which we are adapting to and has enabled further expansion.”

The Impact of Technology

The conference also heard how technology is rapidly impacting the industry’s evolutions through new vessel design as well as the effect on the buying experience, highlighting Dubai’s position as a leading destination spearheading the shift in expectation in the luxury market.

Jad Zakkak Migliorini, Head of Sales & Delivery Operations and Head of Marketing – Azimut Yachts said: “It’s important for us to use tech to make the process of buying easier – this is what buyers are looking for right now. In the post-pandemic area, buyers expect virtual services including e-lounges which can cause challenges given our business is based on experience. There are opportunities for us to continue to optimise and curate advanced experiences using technological advancements.”

Emiratis in the Spotlight

Captain Sahar Rasti reflected on her personal experiences mentioning: “As the first Emirati female ship captain, my journey to this position has been fuelled by a lifelong fascination with the sea and a determination to pave the way for women in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“My experience not only highlights the personal journey but also shines a light on the incredible support from our great country and its leaders. Their unwavering encouragement of women to pursue their dreams, especially in fields traditionally dominated by men, has been instrumental. This backing has been a cornerstone of my success, showcasing the commitment to empowering women and ensuring we can excel and contribute significantly to our society’s progress and innovation.”

Taking place from 28th February – 3rd March, the Dubai International Boat Show is set to showcase an extensive array of international marine attractions from over 1,000 different brands, including 400 new companies, from leading yachting companies.