It was business as usual for the opening three days of the 2019 Dubai International Boat Show. The sun was shining (a bit), temps were totally bearable and once Sheikh Hamdan had officially opened the event on the Tuesday (Sheikh Mohammed paid a visit on the Thursday), there was a steady flow of visitors through the gates. Then, on Thursday evening the weather made a turn for the worst, bringing with it some unexpected positives, as we reveal further into this feature.
As this was the second year at the show’s temporary home at the mouth of the Dubai Canal, everyone knew the drill, with the now familiar layout unchanged for 2019.
Show-goers entered through the numerous ticket lanes (VIPs had their own exclusive welcoming area), then the layout, with its defined route, threaded guests past the Supercar Promenade into the huge, purpose-built exhibition hall. The luxury lifestyle exhibitors, equipment supplies & services and the ever-popular DIVE MENA Expo were hosted inside, however, it was the outdoor display area and the marina that were the main attractions of the event.
Down on the marina’s pontoons, the Superyacht Avenue proved the importance of the UAE in the world’s maritime market. Here, the biggest names in the business, including Lürssen, Fincantieri, Oceanco, Baglietto and Benetti all displayed megayacht concepts, eager to catch the eye of one of the regular DIBS HNWIs.
The marina itself was filled with countless brands, and all were of the highest quality. Not many boat shows outside of Europe can offer guest the chance to view yachts such as the Custom Line 120, the Riva 100 Corsaro, the Azimut Grande range, Hessen’s Rocket, the 40 Open Sunreef Power and Dominator’s Ilumen. Yachts from Pershing, Sirena, Princess, Prestige, Cranchi and ISA added to the multinational feel. Local boat manufacturers were, of course, well represented, with motor yachts from Integrity on display and sport fishers from IMG, ASM and Al Yousef, also on show.
It was Gulf Craft who quite rightly stole the show though, gracing the marina with 12 yachts and boats, with six global premiers from Nomad Yachts, Oryx and Silvercraft. It was great to finally see the Hussein Alshaali designed Oryx 379 – a sport cruiser that will, no doubt be troubling the big European and American brands. Two new versions of the SilverCat catamarans were also launched; designs which make the most of Gulf Craft’s racing heritage. It was the Nomad Yachts range that took centre stage however, with the world premiers of the 65 SUV, 75 SUV and the majestic 95 SUV, which are basically, all your superyacht/explorer desires rolled into one stunning Sport Utility Vessel – as you will see on page 50.
So, did the bad weather (which included very strong winds, rain and a sand storm), have a negative effect on the show and its exhibitors? The simple answer is, no. If anything, it was a bonus. I remember peering out of the curtains on the Friday morning and seeing nothing but a cloud of yellow dust outside my window. A quick walk to my local grocery store had me caught in a cold, wet rain shower, with the dust clogging up my throat. I honestly expected the usual weekend day-trippers to stay at home in bed. And they did, leaving the show to the serious boaters, owners and buyers and they came in their droves. I was genuinely shocked by the amount of enthusiasts who made it through the gates on the weekend, battling gale force winds and cycle race road closures.
The result was plenty of boats were sold at this year’s DIBS. My end of show sweep on the Saturday evening had many shipyards in a state of ecstasy, with one local builder revealing that show sales had reached double figures.
Although times are a little uncertain, there’s still big business to be made and as DIBS looks like it will be heading to the Dubai Harbour next year, the signs are strong for the region’s marine industry.