The Dubai Boat Show features a $318 million electric sailboat and superyacht

By Lisa Fleisher (Bloomberg) – What do buyers of the world’s largest yachts want today? The same thing we’ve all wanted more of during the pandemic lockdowns: more space and a connection to nature.

Also, owners either want to be environmentally conscious — or at least nod off to the energy future. (Massive motor yachts burn from 500 liters of fuel per hour.)

Ships on display at the Dubai Boat Show illustrated the desires of those who can spend tens of millions on these floating homes. New models featured larger windows, slimmer designs and understated decor in contrast to the relatively cramped feeling ships of years ago. Shipbuilders emphasized the energy-efficient qualities of their boats, which should matter to the people who are really driving global warming.

The show is becoming an increasingly important marketing event for shipbuilders as money pours into the region. While some smaller manufacturers said demand for their fishing boats is waning, those building some of the largest yachts said they have full order books. UAE-based Gulf Craft’s sales in 2023 will double the company’s best year to date, Chairman Mohammed Alshaali said. The last time the yard was completely full was around 2015 or 2016, he said.

While the United Arab Emirates were a haven for Russians after the invasion of Ukraine and drove up real estate prices, the restrictions introduced by European countries have injected new momentum into the yachting business. “The market is still there, but the opportunity for Russians to use their yachts has been limited, so this will definitely affect sales,” Alshaali said. “Real estate, they will buy it and keep it in Dubai. Boats usually need them to use them in Europe and especially in the Mediterranean. And there are so many European countries that they cannot go to.”

More than 200 boats – some new, others in production for years – were on display on land and sea at the five-day show, which ends Sunday. This included more than 40 superyachts, defined as those longer than 80 feet. (Definitions for these neologisms may vary, but megayachts are over 200 feet in length, while gigayachts are over 300 feet in length.)

From a $318 million concept by a former Rolls-Royce designer to an all-electric sailboat, here are five of the most interesting, new or notable yachts at this year’s show.

Who said mid-century modern is dead? The inside of Majesty 111 is full of curved wood, clean lines, a mix of natural materials and subtle touches of colour. This Gulf Craft tri-deck vessel was designed in collaboration with Netherlands-based Phathom Studio. A small glass-bottomed pool to dip your feet in is located just above the master bedroom, although the skylight can be covered for privacy. The shipbuilder says there is 40% more glazed glass than on a typical yacht under 101 feet, creating a stronger connection between inside and out. Inside there are six cabins, a saloon, dining area and galley and a plunge pool on the upper deck.

Shipbuilder: golf craft (UAE)
Length: 111 feet, 10 inches (34.1 meters)
Price: Starting at $12 million, according to a realtor

This gigayacht concept was literally unveiled at the boat show – a sheet peeled off the scale model of the boat with a bang. The ship was designed by former Rolls Royce chief designer Giles Taylor, known for Phantom and Cullinan. The ship’s smooth, rounded decks float above the long hull. Taylor is quick to note that “her curves don’t make her overly feminine because her bold, direct architecture has a masculine quality.” Designers described it as a sanctuary in the ocean that would appeal to young tech entrepreneurs and young visionaries, though in would have to be incredibly successful at a young age to be able to afford the gigayacht.

The Dutch shipbuilder is about to sell the first ship, which is expected to take around five years to build. Oceanco promises Aeolusnamed after the Greek god of wind, will be poised for a shift away from fossil fuel dependency, with a layout that can be reconfigured for other fuels or future energy technologies.

Shipbuilder: Oceanco (the Netherlands)
Length: 430 feet (131 meters)
Price: North of 300 million euros ($318 million), according to the company

This electric sailboat can be used for a longer trip with zero emissions – if properly navigated in good weather. You can use your electric motors for a few hours, drop anchor, recharge and, weather permitting, set sail and harness wind power. (It’s the same idea behind the much, much, much larger one Orient Express Silenseas.) As the boat sails forward, the propellers generate power. Solar panels cover practically the entire catamaran. The owners include Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, a spokesman for the brand. Sunreef plans to expand production to the Middle East with a shipyard in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Shipbuilder: Sun Reef Yachts (Poland)
Length: 78 feet 3 inches (23.9 meters)
Price: From 7.5 million euros, according to the company

The Viktoriia, an Evo 120 by Tecnomar, was on display at the Dubai Boat Show in March 2023.  Photographer: Lisa Fleisher/Bloomberg
The Viktoriia, an Evo 120 by Tecnomar, was on display at the Dubai Boat Show in March 2023. Photographer: Lisa Fleisher/Bloomberg

This aluminum sports yacht was designed by the Italian Sea Group, which operates the Italian manufacturer Tecnomar. The ship on display is called Victoria, with aluminum hull, jacuzzi and dining room. With an elegant, sweeping silhouette, the superyacht model can accommodate up to 12 guests in four rooms. The crew area includes a main captain’s cabin with a single bed and two crew cabins with two single beds.

Shipbuilder: technomar (Italy)
Length: 120 feet (36.6 meters)
Price: 16.8 million euros according to the broker

Nomad 101

The Nomad 101 is marketed as an ideal option for families or cruising enthusiasts looking to make longer voyages and enjoy their time at sea. The boat has three decks and a flybridge or an open-air upper deck. The storage space offers space for two jet skis and a tender or small boat. Gulf Craft brought this new model as a surprise debut from its shipyard in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain.

Shipbuilder: golf craft (UAE)
Length: 99 feet, 6 inches
Price: Available upon request

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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