GMBA Middle East: marina developments, market growth and new financing on the horizon

Dubai waterfront skyline

GMBA’s Kai Malmivaara gives an update on the Middle Eastern marine market.

While European countries are suffering from rising electricity and oil prices, high inflation, the weakening of the Euro, and general rising uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine, the Middle East countries, particularly GCC countries such as United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar seem to be moving in the other direction. With the current oil prices the economies of these countries will receive a big boost, and as their currencies are pegged to the US dollar, their buying power is strong. 

Traditionally when there is unrest in the world, UAE seems to be the safe haven for many people and assets. This also appears to ring true now as we see numerous people, including many Russians, moving to the region, and in particular to Dubai, resulting in real estate and rent prices soaring.

GMBA’s Kai Malmivaara

This has also had an effect on the construction business, and many new waterfront developments have been launched, some of which also have marinas. 

Qatar expected many superyachts to visit during the World Cup, and thus new marinas were built to cater for these boats. In Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Red Sea and Jeddah, there are many ultra large real estate developments like Neom, the Red Sea Project and Amaala Triple Bay.

All these will have very sizeable marinas, which are built both for local people and for visitors. The plan is to attract yachts from the Mediterranean to come during the winter season to the Red Sea, Jeddah and Oman, and also to the Arabian Gulf, UAE and Qatar.

Many marinas in the GCC countries have a lot of vacant capacity, and the number of berths clearly exceeds the number of boats. In the UAE and KSA the bottleneck has been the lack of marine finance. In 2021, the Leisure Marine Association MENA was established in Dubai, with one of its main tasks to pave the way for boat financing. Good progress has been made with the authorities, and most likely financing with reasonable terms will be available for boat buyers in the UAE as well as in Saudi Arabia soon. With new marinas emerging and financing for boats offered, there is a strong belief that the sales of boats will substantially increase both in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. 

The question is, are there enough new and used boats available in the leisure marine market to cater for this demand?  

Visit the GMBA website for more information.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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