DUBAI — The changing face of the regional leisure marine industry and the future of the superyacht business will be put under the spotlight at the 11th Middle East Yachting Conference supported by Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), to be held tomorrow (Feb. 27) at the Westin Mina-Seyahi, ahead of the 25th Dubai International Boat Show.
The annual Middle East Yachting Conference brings together global experts and industry authorities, as well as boating enthusiasts, to address the latest trends, technologies, plans and regulations affecting the marine leisure sector in Dubai and beyond.
Leading experts from the yacht manufacturing industry assembling for the day-long conference will examine hot topics from all corners of the sector, including the means to deliver marinas across the region which meet the modern demands of yacht and boat owners.
This year’s theme, ‘Honouring the past, treasuring the present, shaping the future’, is particularly appropriate in view of the role played by the Dubai International Boat Show in driving the development of the regional leisure marine industry over the last 25 years.
“Yachting is an increasingly important element in Middle East luxury lifestyle, which is particularly evident here in Dubai through the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors as well as the spectacular waterfront developments now under way,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, the conference and show organizers.
“The conference is designed as a platform for meaningful discussion and to create opportunities for the sharing of experience and expertise, and this year’s theme will be underlined by sessions reflecting on where we have come from as an industry in the region, examining where we are today, and looking at the course ahead.”
The conference begins with a keynote address on the history of the Dubai maritime sector by Nawfal Al Jourani, Chief Officer, Dubai Marine Cluster Office, Dubai Maritime City Authority.
The event is taking place against a backdrop of extensive marina expansion across the Middle East. UAE-based Gulf Craft, one of the world’s top ten superyacht manufacturers, has a unique view of a region in transition.
Erwin Bamps, CEO of Gulf Craft, which is marking its 35th anniversary this year, will give delegates insights into what luxury means in the Middle East where, according to the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss), there were 628 HNWIs – households with a minimum of $US250 million bankable assets – at the last count.
Moderating a session on the future of Middle East Marinas will be Bruno Meier, COO of UAE-based Art Marine which is currently looking to expand its marina operation and management business by forging partnerships to enter the F&B sector.
Art Marine says that current marina development and expansion projects in the region will add another 12,180 berths, 9,200 of these in the UAE, including 1,400 at the recently announced Dubai Harbour project.
Also giving insights into the future for marinas will be Wayne Shepherd, General Manager, Lusail Marina in Qatar, Captain Munis Momani, Marina Manager, Ayla Marina in Jordan, Toby Haws, Head of Marinas, Al Zorah – Emirates Palace – Al Bander – Marsa Al Bateen, UAE, Cedric Lerest, General Manager, YAS Marina in Abu Dhabi and Tony Dye CMM, Assessor with The Yacht Harbour Association in the UK.
Addressing how the superyacht business has changed over last few decades, an afternoon session moderated by Nabil Farhat, Editor of The World of Yachts & Boats, will address the question – what is the next “big thing” for the industry.
Influential speakers will include Farouk Nefzi, Brand & Marketing Director, Feadship, the Dutch manufacturers, a senior representative from Benetti, Olivier Blanchet, Head of Jet & Yacht Finance, BNP Paribas, France and Captain Roger Towner, Chief Examiner from the Maritime & Coast Guard Agency (MCA) in the UK.
On top of discussions centered on the marine industry, Rob Dalla Costa, Director at KPMG will deliver an exclusive presentation on the region’s introduction of new VAT regulations and what these changes will mean for marine business within the UAE.
The conference will conclude with a keynote address on the spending and needs of UHNWIs by David Awit, Director Middle East, Wealth-X, UK. The 11th Middle East Yachting Conference will take place at the The Westin Mina Seyahi’s Serdaal Ballroom from 9.30 a.m.-5.00p.m. Delegate registration is free of charge and can be done at www.boatshowdubai.com. — SG