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Regional yachting industry has become ‘healthier’

Sailing to the Sunrise


The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar remain large markets for the Middle East yachting industry, says Charter World’s Josh Burdett.

It seems regional ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) bring a large amount of business, thereby contributing to its success. “Middle Eastern clients are knowledgeable, they have been interested in yachting for a long time and are very established in terms of yacht chartering and purchasing,” explains Burdett in an interview with “In the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of bookings and the industry has become a lot healthier.”

Although the regional market may be growing, the yachting industry has dramatically transformed through the years. “The industry has changed in the past few years with regards to the fact that people used to book miles in advance to charter a yacht as they did not want to lose the boat, so it was a real owners’ market,” adds the charter broker. “But, now, it has switched. Since 2008, it has become much more of a buyers’ market. Between 2007 and 2008, people used to pay exactly what was the asking price, but now there is a lot of negotiation that goes on, because people want a good deal. There is a lot of back and forth negotiation now, which makes the process a lot slower than it used to be.”

With the ever-growing number of boat shows in the Middle East, including the widely successful Dubai International Boat Show, the Beirut Boat Show and the Bahrain Boat Show, the region continues to put itself on the yachting map. “The Gulf is the sort of place that there are yachts, but most clients are not interested in chartering, unless there is an event going on, such as the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi,” explains Burdett, although admitting that he believes the Red Sea will become a much more interesting and desired travel destination in the future.

“A lot of Middle Eastern clients come over to Europe in the summer, to either France or London, [places] where they want to charter a yacht,” states Burdett. “This area is much more established for yachting. There is a much larger space to travel, much more to see and do, and with improving infrastructure on land with regards to luxury ports and so on, they can now accommodate more yachts.”

Middle Eastern clients prefer travelling in the summer, says Burdett, especially to European destinations such as London, Southern France, Capri and recently Croatia.

Even though there has been a growing interest in yachting from Chinese and Indian travellers, Burdett assures that they are not into the market in the same way that Middle Eastern clients are.

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