Having arrived in Qatar a few weeks ago for a project this was a good opportunity to see how the yachting industry here differs from what’s happening in Europe.
It seems local preferences lean much more towards fast day boats from speed boats and ski boats to super-yacht sizes. At the Dubai boat show was a large choice of impressive open speedboats of 30 to 60ft with multiple outboards and sports fishers with a bit more volume and endurance getting much attention. There were also a decent number of quite large super yachts there representing the various better knows builders, Amels, Luerssen, Feadship, Bennetti, Oceanco, etc.
Pretty much all the major European yards were there and many have built large yachts for middle eastern clients but generally these are kept elsewhere. The cruising grounds in the region are better suited to smaller boats and, for the local market, the fast yacht seems to be the winning product. A UAE based yacht manufacturer, Gulf Craft, has created an impressive range in sizes and types with a price package no European yard can compete with. Consequently, they are developing a market in Europe and appear to dominate locally.
There is a very different attitude towards quality here in the Gulf and as long as quality is reflected in appearance, underlying technical capabilities take a second place. However, this is the demand in an area where yachts are used in a different way and so it is reflected in the line-up of these locally produced yachts.
From an operational point of view, when day trips are the norm, do you really need so much redundancy and capability in the ship’s systems?
Of course not, these yachts are mostly spending their time inshore so the coast is never far and help always close by. There is no need to incorporate much redundancy and back-up systems all of which demand space, electricity and maintenance. The knock on effect is, bigger engine room, generators and more crew resulting in less space for guests and higher running costs. However, when you want to go exploring, things begin to look a little different. Safety comes to take centre stage amongst all the other stars in the play because when you’re alone out there it is very reassuring to have that extra generator, better bilge and fire pumps, multiple position indicating systems to name but a few. Also, it is often said that when you have the spare equipment you don’t need it, but when you don’t have it……In my experience that is true but at the same time one has to be careful to keep a balanced judgment on what is reasonable, and identify the minimum equipment you need to get you out of trouble safely.
Would you take a Toyota Camry into the desert? Definitely not but the decked out Landcruiser will do a fine job. I’ll take the Camry to the shops any day though.