Dubai is poised to become a global capital for luxury yacht marinas as it continues to attract international companies to invest in the vital sector and capitalise on its growth opportunities, locally and regionally. In partnership with Dubai Holding, Meraas today announced that it has signed an agreement with D-Marin, operator of the largest chain of marinas in the Eastern Mediterranean in six major international destinations, to attract international investments in the yacht sector and various supporting sectors and to promote Dubai as the preferred destination for luxury yachting and boating internationally.
The joint venture agreement was signed at MB92 premises in Barcelona by His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas and Chairman of Dubai Holding, and Ferit Şahenk, Chairman of the Doğuş Group, the parent company of D-Marin. It reflects a commitment by Meraas and Dubai Holding to contribute to the diversification and growth of Dubai’s economy and enhance its position as a major holiday and luxury marine tourism destination in the region and the world.
The newly established joint venture will manage and operate the existing and future marinas being developed by Meraas and Dubai Holding, including marinas in Port de la Mer, Dubai Harbour and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The partnership seeks to also establish a regional centre with global standard for renovation, service and maintenance of luxury yachts and boats in Dubai, similar to D-Marin backed MB92, which is currently serviced by branches in Barcelona, Spain and La Ciotat, France. It also includes long-term provisions for the development of additional marina lifestyle offerings through a broader ecosystem of services and investments that extend into other sectors in the Middle East and Far East regions. With the completion of Dubai Harbour, Meraas will own and operate the largest marina in the Middle East and North Africa with 1,100 berths, doubling the berths available in the UAE.
His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Chairman of Meraas Group and Chairman of Dubai Holding, said: “The success of the two companies in attracting a global operator such as D-Marin to invest in the luxury marinas sector is aligned to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to promote Dubai as a leading international tourist destination and position the UAE at the forefront of world’s most business-friendly countries. This agreement will contribute to attracting new foreign investment to Dubai, which has high rates of direct investment growth in high value sectors.
This move is in line with the sustained efforts of Meraas and Dubai Holding to realise the Dubai Plan 2021 to diversify the UAE’s economy and promote its sustainable growth through increasing the contribution to GDP of vital sectors such as tourism and related activities, including luxury yachting and maritime transportation. In doing so, the companies seek to boost Dubai’s status as one of the top five global tourism, trade, transport and finance hubs.”
He added: “Dubai has attractive comparative advantages in the marina sector due to the UAE’s long-standing maritime heritage. This strategic agreement with D-Marin will harness the combined expertise to develop marinas facilities and services and provide infrastructure, as well as enhance Dubai’s presence and status as a favourite destination for yacht owners and users around the world.”
As part of this partnership, D-Marin focuses on managing marinas through its advisory services on the technical and design aspects of building marinas at a competitive cost. The establishment of a local base in Dubai will also ensure integration with its current operations in South East Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region. The company will additionally provide marketing and advertising support and offer the accumulated experience and best practices of its senior management team. The partnership aims to provide world class services to boat and yacht owners and users around the world and to create a calendar of marine activities, boat races and other marine events, contributing to strengthening Dubai’s position as a global hub for this sector.
Ferit Şahenk, Chairman of the Doğuş Group said: “Dubai has become an inspiring story over the past decades. As Doğuş Group, we have been actively growing in Dubai since 2011 with our real estate and food & beverage business and are very grateful for the opportunities Dubai has offered us. Through this partnership and our regional centre in Dubai, we will invest in the long-term potential of this city and look forward to taking advantage of opportunities in the management and development of marinas in the GCC region.”
He added: “This agreement is a testament to the success of D-Marin in expanding globally. The partnership with Meraas and Dubai Holding will unite our energies to create world-class marine facilities in UAE. We are aware of the importance of this partnership as it will contribute positively to the cooperation between all parties and give it much momentum and strength. We thank Meraas and Dubai Holding for the trust they have placed in us and reaffirm our deep commitment to cementing this partnership with many achievements.”
The yacht market with its requirement of marina berths, logistical needs, maintenance and management is characterised by high spending rates, while the demand for yachts and luxury boats from international tourism is growing. This is also increasingly contributing to attracting wealthy yacht owners for tourism and investment.
More marinas are needed in the UAE as demand from the region continues to grow. According to Frost & Sullivan, the global recreational boat market is expected to be worth approximately $23 Billion in 2018. The global consultancy and research firm also predicted that the market would grow to between US$28 billion and US$30 billion by 2022 in a recently published report.
With the sector witnessing remarkable development in Dubai, the UAE is positioned as a preferred global destination for lifestyle and an ideal place for the rich from all over the world seeking luxury living. The total value of the maritime sector in the UAE is expected to reach about US$66 billion by end-2018, while the value of the recreational boat industry ranges between US$1.3 billion and US$1.5 billion. The UAE ranks 9th in the world confirming its leading position in the leisure maritime sector with the build of 14 new luxury yacht projects with a combined length of 611 metres being manufactured locally this year.
In the GCC and the Middle East in general, there is a growing need for marinas. The region is a major market for luxury yachts with 205 luxury yachts requiring a berthing length of more than 40 meters, representing 13 per cent of the world’s yacht fleet. The region has contributed to the growth of the number of luxury yachts worldwide by 7 per cent over the past three years, as per a recent report by the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBA).