How did a Singaporean lady come to work as an organiser of the Dubai International Boat Show more than 15 years ago?
Dubai was looking for someone who had deep experience in large-scale events delivering significant economic impact, and who could drive change, rebuild teams and co-create strategies. At that time, I had been managing one of the world’s biggest aviation events serving the government and private sectors, so this positioned me suitably for this opportunity.
The Dubai leadership’s openness to creating achievements through collaborative innovation and actively seeking global talent diversity way back in the early 2000s is a hallmark of a progressive city intent on building super brands like the Dubai International Boat Show.
What’s it like working with Dubai Harbour?
From accessibility, infrastructure, operations and logistics to the flexibility of Dubai Harbour’s supportive team and management, the organisation of the last edition was one of the smoothest we’ve had.
Dubai Harbour is located at the heart of the precinct gazetted as the international tourism and leisure hub in the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan. This makes it a most attractive and strategically unifying destination for the Dubai International Boat Show, which is a major contributor to leisure marine tourism.
Hosting a big-scale, international boat show can be disruptive to a working marina’s daily operations, but the cooperation was impeccable between us and the Dubai Harbour team. With the support of all the government authorities, it produced one of the most memorable editions of the event.
What feedback did you receive about the venue and other aspects of the show?
Often, we need to balance the requirements of the superyacht builders with the medium and smaller scale boating companies in a regional event that serves the interests of all target groups. The common interest from all stakeholders is to leverage the venue and event offerings to further develop the leisure boating and tourism sector to grow its market attractiveness and relevance in the global economy, pursuing a sustainable strategy.
How did the number of exhibitors and yachts compare to past years?
The industry’s strong performance during the pandemic translated into a palpable growth of the event, as demand for leisure yachting grows. Last year’s edition also marked the return of many international companies who were excited to be back in the region to reconnect with customers as travel restrictions eased.
Do you think the event will be bigger?
Tourism in Dubai had increased 134 per cent year on year, as of last October, and the solid collaboration model between government and private sectors locally and globally continues to strengthen the Dubai International Boat Show’s proposition as the region’s most influential leisure boating lifestyle event.
We’re set to achieve 25 per cent expansion in the coming edition as demand for boating advances, with authorities continuing to ease and modify tax, visa, access and movement rules and regulations for the yacht industry. Furthermore, the winter tourism campaign has gained remarkable traction.
Do you see a growth in international interest in the Middle East yachting market?
The attractive calendar of experiential events and festivities in Dubai and the region has created tremendous tourism appeal, enhancing yacht visits here. The attractive climate nine months of the year and the high liveability index of Dubai has drawn new residents and tourists into the sector, while the novel sea-land tourism offerings unique to this region continue to fascinate the world.
Luxury yachting is spearheading the sector’s growth in the region and Dubai continues to rank first for HNWI (high-net-worth individual) wealth. Recent immigration-policy changes in the region put us ahead of the curve in the global competition for talent and investment, which helps accelerate expansion of the Middle East yachting market.
Which are the leading Gulf markets and which other countries will grow significantly as yacht markets in the coming years?
Dubai and Abu Dhabi within the UAE, and Saudi Arabia are fast emerging as interesting destinations with significant headroom for market expansion. This is due to the concerted strategy in marine regulations, new tourism offerings, inward talent migration trends, regional stability and continued wealth growth.
Looking ahead, how do you see links developing between Asia and the Middle East?
There are indications of increased movement of yachts between two of the world’s most interesting emerging hubs. With Asia now emerging from pandemic restrictions and the urgency to normalise business and lifestyle behaviours against increasingly yachting-friendly regulations, the rise in marine activities and collaboration is only expected to grow. The question is how much and how fast.
For more reads on Leaders, click here.