By David Robinson

More exhibitors and more and larger yachts are highlights of the 2014 Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS) being held on March 4-8. This growth in the region’s leading boat and marine leisure event is seen as reflecting the growth in the local market both for superyachts and smaller craft.

In respect of exhibitors, the organisers indicate that there will be 840 companies and brands on show, representing a 12% increase over 2013. In terms of yachts and boats there will be a total of over 430 on water and land. Of these, 19 superyachts, including the largest yacht ever for the show, will be at DIBS. The largest so far is said to be one of the 50 largest yachts in the world and other superyachts will include a 41m (135ft) from Gulf Craft and a 24m (78ft) from Sunseeker. In total there will be 30 yachts over 21m (69ft).

As usual the event will be held at the Dubai International Marine Club at Mina Seyahi. It is anticipated that the show will be attended over five days by some 26,000 visitors from 70 countries. Among these, the organisers say, will be 5,000 VIPs and key buyers.

The regional industry is become more mature with a small but growing number of large yacht builders being active. The UAE, of which Dubai is one of the seven emirates, is the biggest building nation in the region with the likes of Abu Dhabi Mar Shipyards (ADM) and Gulf Craft. The ADM Group is continuing to work on the 141m (463ft) Yas, which is understood to be completed this year.

Gulf Craft has steadily expanded both its range of yachts and size of business. It is currently developing a fifth shipyard which will be used for superyacht construction for vessels larger that the 50m (164ft) that can be constructed in the present yard. Gulf Craft builds three different brands of yachts with craft from about 12m (39ft) up to 50m (164ft).

Erwin Bamps, Gulf Craft’s COO, was quoted in an Arabian business report saying: “There is a vision for the UAE’s superyacht building industry that it will, slowly but surely, increase its output until it is one of the very top manufacturing bases for luxury yachts anywhere in the world. At this point, the UAE’s shipbuilding growth appears really unstoppable.”

In a press statement from the Dubai World Trade Centre, the organisers of DIBS, Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president of DWTC, commented: “The show continues to be the region’s largest and most preferred platform for sales, knowledge exchange, networking and trade. The GCC leisure boating market is well and truly back on track in the wake of the global recession. This is thanks to the region having established itself as a boat manufacturing hub, increasing leisure marine tourism and growing interest from key buyers in the GCC as well as emerging markets such as Africa, China and India, while new exhibitors and trade visitors continue to flock to Dubai.”