Already one of the world’s fastest emerging maritime destinations, Dubai has the right credentials to become the global yachting and boating community’s premier ‘hotspot’, said Saeed Hareb, Director of Nakheel Marinas and Managing Director of Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC).Speaking on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market 2008, the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism exhibition, Hareb said 51,000-plus new berths currently being added to Dubai’s impressive existing portfolio of marinas, waterside developments and harbours will position the emirate as the world’s preferred location for boating holidays and retreats - overtaking established European and international destinations.
“Dubai is already looking at becoming the number one marine and yachting destination. In some aspects, we already are,” said Hareb.
“If you look at projects, such as The Palm Trilogy and The World, Dubai is offering an experience that rivals the traditional European boating hubs of Mote Carlo, Cannes and St Tropez. And developers are continuously adding new berths to meet the demands and requirements for a wide range of craft from small boats to mega-yachts.”
With Dubai’s unprecedented growth in waterside developments, and a boom in the local marine industry, the go-ahead emirate is pulling out all the stops to bolster its burgeoning maritime hub status.
Nakheel, the company behind the ambitious ‘The Palm’ developments - three mixed-use, man made islands off Dubai’s coast - is spearheading the charge. Only this week, the company unveiled its latest offering, Worlds of Discovery, to more than 4,000 industry players and media at Arabian Travel Market.
The new project, an island in the shape of Shamu, Sea World’s famous killer whale, will occupy a section of Palm Jebel Ali known as “the Crown” and the the concept masterplan includes SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove.
However, while he agrees infrastructure development is critical, Hareb believes Dubai’s cultivation of the luxury lifestyle associated with attracting the world’s boating elite is proving the biggest lure.
“We are not only providing berths and marinas but more so the lifestyle associated with becoming the world’s leading yachting destination,” he said.
“For us now, it is about building on this and to continue to identify new opportunities that will attract more international names to our shores.”
Dubai, under the direction of the emirate’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, had its largest ever showing at Arabian Travel Market 2008, which ran from the 6-9th May at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (DIECC).
Hareb praised the show as an important platform to showcase the emirate’s diverse offerings to the international community.
“Arabian Travel Market is an excellent exhibition, and is a solid platform for Dubai to illustrate its credentials as a leading destination for tourism. The show allows the UAE to demonstrate its wide range of development and tourism projects, which are the key drivers in attracting visitors.
“Dubai is the main base for many of the regional and international tourism offices who wish to promote their destination’s offering to a truly global customer base. This show allows them to do this.”
The 2008 event, which is organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions, was the most comprehensive to date with an exhibitor base of 2,208 participants from 70 countries - an eight percent increase on the 2007 edition.
Arabian Travel Market is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and under the auspices of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai.