An ease in regulatory environment will boost the growth potential of the yacht industry, according to a senior industry official.
Nasser Alshaali, Chief Executive Officer of local luxury yacht builder Gulf Craft, while outlining the challenges and benefits of operating a production company in the UAE, said: "We must be realistic about the country as a manufacturing base."
Speaking during the annual Gulf Superyacht Forum, Alshaali said: "While the region continues to have strong liquidity, many of the perceived advantages of operating here, such as low cost of labour and general cost of doing business, are diminishing due to direct and indirect fees and the lack of properly zoned and priced land for private manufacturing."
Despite the difficulties facing all luxury and leisure markets, Alshaali said opportunities still exist and more are opening up within the GCC, particularly generated by the growth in marina facilities and establishing of marine associations.
"The UAE, in particular, has a great future as a yachting tourism destination if managed well, and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has done tremendous work to demonstrate the potential of Abu Dhabi in this area," said Alshaali.
"The maturing of the leisure market, coupled with the region's undiscovered yachting destinations and long yachting season, makes it the ideal winter destination for yachts escaping the chill of the European environment."
Alshaali also said that "however, unless the regulatory environment surrounding marine and yachting improves, such as removal of ownership restrictions, support for maritime mortgages and freedom of movement between waterways and ports, the growth of this industry will always be limited. We also have a long way to go to match the strength and strategic advantage that Europe has with respect to the ingenuity of small and medium sized businesses."
UAE-based Gulf Craft is one of the region's largest producer of fibreglass yachts and boats with a dealership network spreading across 50 countries.
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