Sailing through luxury
With Qatar being viewed as a booming market, Gulf Craft showcased some of their finest yachts during the ‘Majesty Yachts Exclusive Preview’ event at The Pearl-Qatar in March as part of a plan to expand sales in the country. Jenifer Fenton checks them out.
The UAE-based manufacturer of yachts and boats docked their new Majesty 125, a 125 foot (38.40m) luxury motor yacht with four decks, five en-suite rooms, lounging and entertainment areas; all styled in fine leather, wood and marble. Other Gulf Craft majesty models on display included the Majesty 105, Majesty 56, Majesty 63 and Majesty 70 that were open for the public to tour.
Qatar’s increasingly rich middle class, as well as the country’s focus on diversifying the economy, is creating opportunities for growth in many businesses, including the nautical industry.
Disposable income, limited leisure opportunities in Qatar and expanding infrastructure to support a marina culture are all reasons behind the strong sales of vessels and yachts in Qatar, according to Erwin Bamps, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Craft. Bamps says that Gulf Craft vessels range from QR100,000 to QR80 million.
Three young Qatari men touring the yachts during the event were impressed with what they saw, but said they would not be buying a boat anytime soon. “It is expensive for us,” Ali said. “I hope to own a boat one day, but for now I have my car.”
Developments like the The Pearl-Qatar and Lusail City, which have approximately 1,100 berths combined, have helped fuel interest and sales capacity. The Pearl-Qatar has three modern marinas, each with services and facilities, that provide more than 1,000 berths while Lusail Marina currently has 93 berths available. “You can’t really own a vessel unless you have a decent place to park, maintain and service it. Those facilities have come up in the last few years,” Bamps said.
“Qataris have the ability to show their wealth and enjoy their wealth more than most people worldwide today.”
Additionally, there is no shame in showing off your wealth in Qatar – contrary to the case now in Europe or in economically depressed areas, he added. “Qataris have the ability to show their wealth and enjoy their wealth more than most people worldwide today,” Bamps added while speaking to the press aboard the Majesty 125.
Following the financial crisis, the nautical industry took a hit and the sales market shifted somewhat geographically from Europe and the Gulf to South America, Southeast Asia and China, said Mohamed AlShaali, Chairman of Gulf Craft, which has been operating for almost 30 years and has more than 40 dealers worldwide. “The market is always changing,” he noted.
Before 2008, Gulf Craft was selling 500 boats, plus 50 yachts annually. Following economic challenges sales dropped to 300 boats and 30 to 35 yachts. But while the quantity of ships sold dropped, the appetite for high-end yachts lifted sales and revenue remained steady, Bamps said.
Furthermore, in 2013 there appears to be growth in sales in all vessel sizes worldwide. Globally 60 super yachts, with a combined asking price of QR2.36 trillion, have already been sold this year and there are orders for 14 more boats, according to Boat International.
The population of Qatar is expanding rapidly and there are a growing number of expatriates who are purchasing mid-sized and smaller crafts, according to Lennart Bottenberg, Sales and Development Manager at Ronautica Middle East. This growth is expected to continue as mega events, in the likes of the 2022 World Cup, are held in Qatar, bringing an influx of people into the country.
But in addition to sales, Alshaali wants the world to see the Gulf as an area of sustainable development. “We believe industry is the only way for Gulf countries, Arab countries, to build a strong economy.”