What do buyers of the world’s largest yachts want these days? Same thing that we all wanted more of during pandemic lockdowns: more space and a connection with the outdoors.
In addition, owners want to either be environmentally conscious—or at least nod to the future of energy. (Massive motor yachts burn upwards of 500 liters of fuel an hour.)
Vessels on display at the Dubai Boat Show illustrated the desires of those who have many millions to spend on these floating homes. New models had bigger windows, sleeker designs and understated decor as opposed to relatively cramped feel ships were known for years ago. Shipbuilders emphasized their boats’ energy efficient qualities, which should matter to the people who are truly driving global warming.
The show is an increasingly important marketing event for shipbuiders as money floods into the region. While some smaller manufacturers said demand was softening for their fishing boats, those building some of the largest yachts said they had full order books. Revenue at United Arab Emirates-based Gulf Craft in 2023 will be twice as high as the company’s previous best year ever, chairman Mohammed Alshaali said. The last time the shipyard was completely full was around 2015 or 2016, he said.
While the UAE has been a haven for Russians after the invasion of Ukraine, bolstering real estate prices, the restrictions put in place by European countries have added a new dynamic to the yacht business. “The market is still there, but the ability for Russians to use their yachts became limited, so this definitely will affect sales,” Alshaali said. “Real estate, they will buy it and keep it in Dubai. Boats, they need mostly to use them in Europe and the Mediterranean particularly. And there are so many European countries which they cannot go to.”
More than 200 boats — some new, some in production for years — were on display on land and water at the five-day show, which ends Sunday. That included more than 40 superyachts, defined as those longer than 80 feet. (Definitions for these neologisms may differ, but megayachts are more than 200 feet long while gigayachts are over 300 feet.)
From a $318 million concept by a former Rolls Royce designer to a fully electric sailboat, here are five of the most interesting, new or notable yachts at this year’s show.
Shipbuilder: Gulf Craft (UAE)
Length: 111 feet, 10 inches (34.1 meters)
Price: From $12 million, according to a broker
Who said midcentury modern was dead? The interior of the Majesty 111 is full of curved wood, clean lines, a mixture of natural materials and subtle pops of color. This tri-deck vessel from Gulf Craft was designed in conjunction with Netherlands-based Phathom Studio. A small pool to dip your feet in with a glass bottom sits directly above the master bedroom, though the skylight can be covered for privacy. The shipbuilder says there is 40% more glazed glass than a typical yacht that’s below 101 feet in length, creating more of a connection between indoors and outdoors. Inside there are six cabins, a salon, dining area and galley, as well as a plunge pool on the upper deck.
Shipbuilder: Oceanco (the Netherlands)
Length: 430 feet (131 meters)
Price: North of €300 million ($318 million), according to the company
This concept gigayacht was literally unveiled—a sheet pulled off the scale model of the boat with great flourish—at the boat show. The vessel was designed by former Rolls Royce head designer Giles Taylor, known for the Phantom and Cullinan. The vessel’s sleek, rounded decks float up above the lengthy hull. Taylor is quick to note that “her curves do not make her overly feminine because there is a masculine quality to her bold, forthright architecture.” Designers described it as a sanctuary in the ocean that would appeal to young tech entrepreneurs and young visionaries, though they would have to be incredibly successful at a young age to afford the gigayacht.
The Dutch shipbuilder is close to a deal to sell the first vessel, which is expected to take about five years to construct. Oceanco promises Aeolus, named for the Greek god of wind, will be ready for a move away from a dependence on fossil fuels, with a layout that can be reconfigured for other fuels or future energy technology.
Sunreef 80 Eco
Shipbuilder: Sunreef Yachts (Poland)
Length: 78 feet 3 inches (23.9 meters)
Price: From €7.5 million, according to the company
This electric sailboat can be used, emissions free, for an extended journey—if navigated properly in good weather. You might use your electric motors for a few hours, drop anchor, recharge, and when weather permits, put up the sails and use wind power. (It’s the same idea behind the much, much, much larger Orient Express Silenseas.) Meanwhile, as the boat sails forward, the propellers generate energy. Solar panels practically cover the whole catamaran. Owners include Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, a brand spokesman. Sunreef is planning on expanding production to the Middle East with a shipyard in the emirate Ras Al Khaimah.
Shipbuilder: Tecnomar (Italy)
Length: 120 feet (36.6 meters)
Price: €16.8 million, according to a broker
This sports yacht made of aluminum was designed by the Italian Sea Group, which operates the Italian builder Tecnomar. The vessel on display is called the Viktoriia, with an aluminum hull, jacuzzi and dining room. With an elegant, curved silhouette, the superyacht model can host up to 12 guests in four rooms. The crew area includes a main captain cabin with a single bed and two crew cabins with twin beds.
Shipbuilder: Gulf Craft (UAE)
Length: 99 feet, 6 inches
Price: Available upon request
The Nomad 101 is being marketed as an ideal option for families or cruise-lovers who want to go on longer journeys and enjoy their time on the sea. The boat has three decks and a flybridge, or open-air upper deck. The storage space can fit two jetskis and a tender, or small boat. Gulf Craft pulled this new model out as a surprise debut from its shipyard in the emirate Umm Al Quwain.
Originally published on Bloomberg.com