Walking around Beirut Marina on the opening evening of Beirut Boat, it was plain to see that the show’s exhibitors, VIPs and visitors alike were all upbeat about the 11th edition of the respected event. Located at the heart of the Zaitunay Bay development, Beirut Boat reflected the constant positive mood that is synonymous with the city at the edge of the Mediterranean.

Steve Chalmers

For anyone who hasn’t visited, there’s still a lot of wealth in Beirut, with the Downtown area lined with Rolls-Royces and Ferraris parked outside the boutiques of Cartier, Gucci, Valentino and Bulgari.

It’s a city alive with people making the most of their lives, and having come from Dubai with all its maritime rules and regulations, being in a city where you’re encouraged to use your boat or yacht is genuinely refreshing.

It’s this high-end lifestyle that attracted some of the biggest names in the business to Beirut Boat, with representatives from Benetti, Feadship, Sunseeker, Astondoa, Sanlorenzo and Numarine joining the familiar local industry leaders of Chehab Marine, Sea Pros, Blue Point Yachting, Yacht Vision and Team Nine.

In fact, joining the 39 Lebanese businesses were exhibitors from Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UAE and even the UK.

It was indeed an international fair, and strolling the boardwalk surrounding the marina it was great to just people watch. Even though Beirut Boat is a chilled show, with a gentle pace, there was plenty of business going on with visitors lining up for yacht views.

Although the boats, yachts and superyachts were the focal point, located around the marina was the bread and butter of the marine business, and no matter what you were after, from brokers to fishing equipment, decking and towing gear, it was all there.

Keeping the high-end feel, Ulysse Nardin and Mercedes-Benz had their latest timepieces and luxury cars on display, with a live band keeping everyone entertained.

Of particular interest to VIP visitors was Le Yacht Club, the focal point of Zaitunay Bay. Accessible for members only, the striking building features a number of exclusive amenities, including a private pool and sundeck (which was Benetti’s exclusive home for the show), a restaurant, a bar lounge, a games room and a wellness center.

With a structure styled by the American architect Steven Holl and an interior designed by Nabil Dada’s firm, Dada & Associates, this is one of the most distinctive yacht clubs on the planet.

Artworks from Lebanese artist hang from the walls and wherever you look, there’s is a link back to the Mediterranean, understandable, as it’s the very sea that allowed the Phoenician ancestors to spread the first symbols of civilization to the world.

With this year’s show proving to be a success, the organisers have already penciled in the 2019 dates. If you want to visit a boat show in one of the world’s most vibrant cities, then make sure you’re in Beirut from the 30th of April to May the 4th, next year.