Dubai International Boat Show gets thumbs up, plus Coutts and Dalton in town for match racing 15/3/06

The Dubai International Boat Show has quickly evolved from ‘also-ran’ to ‘significant player’ status in the league of world shows and linked with the mind-boggling waterfront development in this furiously expanding emirate, which includes plans for 40,000 new marina berths, it’s a region any marine business worth its salt is taking very seriously.

As if to endorse the importance of what is happening on the waterfront in Dubai His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, paid what local observers regarded as a surprise visit to the show, which has grown by 50 per cent in just a year.

A key player in the evolution of Dubai’s waterfront, which includes extraordinary developments like The World, a series of reclaimed islands in the shape of a world map, is Nakheel Marinas who are responsible for creating 1,500 kilometres of new beach front along various island projects.

The first planned new marina will be on The Palm Jumeirah, literally a palm shaped group of islands, complete with fronds, with marinas on either side of the ‘trunk’ and two more at the top of the ‘tree’. Eventually there will be three ‘Palm’ islands. Nakheel are also building two marinas in Dubai Creek.

In another astounding project 87 per cent of the reclamation work for the Dubai Maritime City, which will cover 216 hectares, is complete. It is claimed that when finished the Dubai Maritime City will serve as the world’s most comprehensive maritime complex with ship yards, yacht repair and building facilities, offices, apartments and more marinas.

But will it all come to fruition? One yacht broker who has been in the region for 10 years said that scepticism over ambitious plans has always been replaced with amazement as each comes to fruition. The face of the waterfront changes on an almost daily basis.

And will people live in the waterside apartments? In the summer months temperatures rise to the 40 degree C mark making life unbearable for those not used to the heat, but in the winter period this country could really cash in on the weather-weary looking for a break.

Emirates Team New Zealand – ‘top of the sailing food chain’

Meanwhile Grant Dalton and Russell Coutts strutted their stuff at sea off the show, Dalton with his Emirates Team New Zealand team taking part in a pro-am event. Dalton called for the youth of Dubai to take advantage of the sailing training being developed by the Dubai International Marine Club. “Each time I come out here there are more boats and with Emirates Team New Zealand at the top of the food chain I want to promote this.”

Russell Coutts, in town with two of his RC 44 specialist match racing yachts told me that he will be “taking it pretty gently” in the build up to the Dubai Match Race Challenge which starts tomorrow. The second RC 44 went sailing for the first time yesterday and the two boats looked pretty cool with The Palm Jumeirah as a backdrop.