Published: Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Leisure cruising is becoming an increasingly popular option for tourists in Dubai, with prices comparing favourably with staying in five-star hotels, and visitors keen to enjoy the breath-taking views of the city’s waterfront, say industry experts.

Dubai Visitors Seek Luxury In Uaes Glittering Waters

While sailing and boating have been an integral part of traditional life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for many years, the increased focus on the active, on-water lifestyle and development of Dubai’s waterfront has led to interest increasing among tourists and other visitors, according to UAE-based yacht and boat manufacturer Gulf Craft – one of the world’s leading international shipyards.

“Dubai visitors come here to experience luxury and so yachting naturally becomes part of that experience,” says Gulf Craft CEO Erwin Bamps. “Our objective at Gulf Craft is to make boating accessible to everyone, so we are delighted that tourists here in Dubai are getting a taste of the sea life.” 

Charter company Tirena Boats in Dubai receives half its bookings through tourists and tourism agencies, says General Manager Mazen Faraj. Tourists can enjoy a range of experiences on the water, from fishing and watersports to deep-sea diving and long-range cruising.

Dubai is also proving popular as a cruising hub to other destinations, with Ras Al Khaimah and the Abu Dhabi islands being easily accessible – one in five bookings are for trips to other emirates, according to Faraj.

“Different tourists are looking for different experiences, and through Gulf Craft’s wide range of yachts, boats, and sport cruisers, we are able to cater to their diverse requirements,” Faraj says. “The value added services and amenities that we provide on board our craft – be it fishing gear, fully equipped kitchens, equipment for water sports and activities, and, of course, the reassurance that we take the highest safety and security precautions, incentivizes tourists to explore the many possibilities of leisure boating in the UAE.”

With bookings starting from AED800 (about US$218) per hour, the yachting experience compares favourably with other attractions in Dubai, adds Faraj. Most customers are looking for a taste of the yachting experience, with typical bookings lasting between two and five hours.

Dubai Visitors Seek Luxury In Uaes Glittering Waters 1

“After tourists call to enquire about booking prices, they soon discover that this can actually cost them less than a one night stay at a five-star hotel in Dubai,” adds Faraj. “This, coupled with the delight of cruising into the UAE’s luminous waters, draws tourists to this enriching experience."

With the on-water lifestyle popular among UAE residents and visitors from within the GCC, demand remains strong for boating even in tougher economic times. Regional visitors enjoy the “home away from home” experience and look for craft that offer luxury and privacy, adds Bamps. 

“In this region, boating is not seen as just a luxury practice, it is an essential part of the local lifestyle,” Bamps says. “People here have boating in their blood; it is an experience they hold close to their hearts.”