Building on a rich maritime heritage, Dubai has made rapid progress to emerge as a preferred destination for yacht owners, charters and cruise travelers from across the world and a leading multifaceted global hub for the sector.
With its world-class infrastructure, coastline, simplified access procedures, open anchorage areas, luxury marinas and diverse sea and land-based experiences, Dubai has become a global yacht tourism magnet and the destination of choice for owners and captains of superyachts, especially in the winter season from October to April.
His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Council for Border Crossing Points Security, said that the rapid growth of Dubai’s maritime tourism sector has contributed significantly to reinforcing the emirate’s status as one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations. He called for further efforts to accelerate the pace of the sector’s growth and the development of its offerings, building on the successful start of Dubai’s cruise tourism season this year.
A cross-governmental task force was established to ensure that all foreign-flagged yachts, whether shipped or sailing to Dubai, have a seamless experience on arrival and benefit from full access to modern infrastructure and advanced marina-based facilities.
Following the launch of Dubai Harbour in 2020 and the expansion of several marinas across the emirate in the last 18 months, Dubai is now home to 15 marinas with more than 3,000 berths, which can accommodate an array of pleasure craft and luxury yachts as well as superyachts and giga yachts.
Dubai is particularly attractive as a hub for superyachts, with its world-class facilities, sophisticated infrastructure and plethora of fine-dining restaurants, diverse experiences and tourism attractions, all within easy access of the marinas.
According to Oxford Business Group, more than 200 superyachts (37 – 60m yachts) were registered across the Middle East as of 2019, with Dubai being the base for many of these vessels. The dock-and-dine options that are available at the marinas, in addition to its varied destination offerings, span many leisure touchpoints from heritage to entertainment, outdoor adventures to beach activities, gastronomy to family-oriented experiences and from shopping to luxury.
With the impact of the pandemic continuing to influence new travel trends globally, residents and tourists are now seeking more private and closed-group activities. As a result, yachting has become increasingly popular with both tourists and residents alike, with owners and captains seeking to berth their vessels in marinas along Dubai’s coastline, such as the new Dubai Harbour.
Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, executive director of Dubai Maritime City Authority, said: “The Dubai Maritime City Authority is committed to promote Dubai’s position in the global maritime sector, by developing productive partnerships and innovative initiatives to elevate the leisure industry, create unique yacht tourism experiences and raise the sustainability of the sector in Dubai… We’re moving forward to advance marine leisure activities, tourist destinations, marinas, recreational places and yacht services to create a leading cluster for maritime activities in Dubai.”
Issam Kazim, chief executive officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “We are seeing a rapid rise in yachting and cruising, two key offerings that support our tourism growth strategy in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to position the emirate as the most sought-after destination to visit as it continues to offer diverse tourism experiences as well as enhance its appeal as a global hub for businesses and an attractive location to live and work in. Dubai’s range of yacht tourism facilities that meet the highest international standards combined with its diverse destination proposition and commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of people has enabled Dubai to build a thriving global yachting community and offer leisure and adventure activities featuring the most modern watercraft. Dubai’s ability to provide residents and tourists memorable maritime experiences is a testament to our strong collaboration with our stakeholders and partners.”
The growth potential of the UAE’s yachting industry is demonstrated by the presence of world-class companies in the field, such as Gulf Craft, manufacturers of luxury and superyachts, and the opening up of more companies that are dedicated to promoting yacht tourism, including The Yacht Brothers and Hero OdySEA. Demand for yachting has grown increasingly over the past year with yacht operators reporting a surge in bookings across day and weekend trips, so much so that new luxury boats and equipment have been added to their fleets.