Regional maritime industry has to adapt to changes, experts say

The sector is estimated to reach a value of $28bln to $30bln by 2022

  
Arabian man watching cityscape of Dubai with modern futuristic architecture in United Arab Emirates City skyline in Dubai. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Arabian man watching cityscape of Dubai with modern futuristic architecture in United Arab Emirates City skyline in Dubai. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images/ aiqingwang

Marinas across the UAE and the GCC region have to prepare for a future that is being shaped by technology, experts said ahead of the 28th Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS 2020), which will open its doors at the new Dubai Harbour on March 10-14, 2020.

Speaking at a recent press conference, Abeer M. Alshaali, acting chief executive officer at Gulf Craft, highlighted the importance of various industry players, from ship builders to marina operators, on being up to date on the latest trends when it comes to technology and sustainability. This, she said, is going to be especially important in the next few years as more electric and hydrogen-powered boats hit the seas.

"The automotive industry has been pretty fast when it comes to launching electric vehicles and hybrids, but the maritime industry is slowly but surely catching up," she said.

Selcuk Balci, managing director of D-Marin Dubai - the joint venture between Meraas, Dubai Holding, and D-Marin, which will be operating the Dubai Harbour marina - also spoke about how the marina industry will have to adapt to changes in the future that are brought about by boating enthusiasts investing in hybrid boat models.

"Marina construction has to anticipate the inclusion of facilities that will be required by hybrid models, and this is something that we are focusing on right now," he said. "So far, there has been some progress where we are looking to see how we can include charging stations. I think that it is easy to convert the marinas towards electric boats, because we have enough supply in the pipeline. On the other hand, when hydrogen technology does come in, it will mean bigger investments in terms of facilities. Eventually, when the sector moves into that direction, we will be open and moving towards it together."

Balci also offered updates on how work on the Dubai Harbour is progressing, noting that the first phases of the project will be operational by September 2020. Managed by Meraas, the Dubai Harbour will be the Middle East's foremost all-in-one luxury maritime destination upon completion. The Dubai Harbour Marina will ultimately hold 1,100-berths - the greatest berth mix in the world for yachts up to 160 metres in length - supporting a superyacht industry which has seen reassuring growth over the past decade, and which is estimated to reach a value of $28 billion to $30 billion by 2022.

"Inspired by Dubai's heritage, the exclusive Dubai Harbour Marina will be the most sophisticated of its kind in the Middle East, and one of the few marinas in the world to offer superyacht owners an advanced home-port solution. The expansive, modern berth mix available to yacht, superyacht owners and the wider recreational boat market, along with cutting-edge facilities, make it one of our most outstanding marinas under our portfolio, reaffirming Dubai's position as a pioneer and regional capital of the maritime industry," Balci said.

Tim Trenker, chief executive officer of BehneMar, which will be showcasing its bespoke yachting consultancy services at DIBS 2020, said that it is "extremely encouraging" to see Dubai continue to increase its status as an attractive, must-visit location.

"The yachting industry will continue to demand more bespoke, elegant experiences, while advances in technology and design will only raise consumer expectations," he said. "As we enter a new decade, this is a hugely exciting time for the yachting industry."

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