UAE market at its ‘highest peak’, says Sunseeker Gulf


John Bush of Sunseeker Gulf answers questions about the luxury yacht market in the Gulf, where Dubai is the centre of marine activity.


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Brett Noble and John Bush of Sunseeker Gulf


Headed by John Bush and Brett Noble, who founded Bush & Noble in Dubai in 2012, Sunseeker Gulf represents Sunseeker International in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.


John, in your experience, what have been the highs and lows of the luxury yacht market in the Gulf?

In the 15 years I’ve been in the UAE, I would say we’re currently in the ‘highest peak’, not only in terms of boat sales but also the size of boats and the number of superyachts and megayachts visiting the region.


The lowest point was around 2009/2010 when the region was hit by the global economic crisis. During that time, there were hardly any boat sales, and many people left the region, so we had a gap of about four or five years with no notable new boat sales in the region.


Three years into the Covid era, what is the Gulf market like now and how do you believe it will develop in the coming years?

Covid turned out to be quite a revelation for the UAE, particularly Dubai. The government acted fast in terms of locking down and very quickly rolled out the vaccine programme open to everyone, which resulted in a fast economic recovery.


A Sunseeker 74 Sport Yacht XPS will exhibit at the Dubai International Boat Show (March 1-5)


The subsequent couple of years led to a huge influx of wealthy expats who have taken advantage of the lifestyle here, which has in turn boosted the leisure marine and superyacht sector.


What are the most popular types of yachts in the Gulf?

Flybridge yachts are the most popular. In that sector, the 20m size range is the most sought-after. The locals also enjoy fast, centre-console fishing boats between 10-15m. The superyacht sector is split 50/50 between local builds, mainly Gulf Craft, and European brands such as Sunseeker, Princess and Azimut.


Which are the leading Gulf markets and which of the other countries do you think will grow significantly as markets in the coming years?

Dubai (UAE) is by far the largest yachting market and has the most capacity for immediate growth because of the new marinas built recently. Kuwait has a very large marine sector, but has a lack of available berths, so growth is restricted there.


Over the next 10 to 20 years, Saudi Arabia could potentially be the largest and fastest-growing market. The relaxation in the country’s laws to encourage expats to visit and live in the area, and the new cities building there will help grow the markets.