(CNN) — Behind a new generation of superyachts lies an intriguing idea, if industry professionals are to be believed: that some first-time buyers of the ultimate luxury item aren’t that interested in material possessions.
So where does that leave high-end ship builders? Enter the “explorer” superyacht. Think Ernest Shackleton, but with a Cordon Bleu-trained chef at hand. Alshaali describes long-range engines, solar panels for additional power and hybrid hulls “that can withstand any kind of storm.”
Each year the yacht industry gathers at the Dubai International Boat Show, the biggest event of its kind in the Gulf.
Growing demand for long-distance, durable luxury vessels is steering the industry into new waters. “People are looking towards their boats to mimic what they’re seeing in other places — whether it’s in real estate or in cars,” she adds. “Innovation and technology, sustainability; all sorts of new materials.”
From the days of pearl diving to the discovery of oil to its colossal freight port, the sea has offered much to Dubai. The boat show, now in its 27th year, has risen to become an important event in the global calendar, and Dubai’s seafaring tradition is manifesting in thousands of new berths popping up in harbors around the city.
“It’s a regional and international hub,” says Alshaali of Gulf Craft, which manufactures vessels in neighboring emirate Umm Al-Quwain. “At the end of the day, we sell to the east and we sell to the west.”
The Esquel will be capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles in a single journey, and “toys” on board will include snowmobiles, a helicopter and a submarine, say Oceanco.
The Esquel’s cruising range of 7,000 nautical miles could take its crew roughly a third of the circumference of the world before needing to make port. With a business hub for remote working, chandelier-finished master suite and fire pit in the lounge, it’s not spartan accommodation.
Oceanco say there’s convertible space for laboratories, suggesting the vessel could be utilized by marine biologists. In the company brochure, Oceanco also say it’s “ideal for couples or friends who want to take a ‘gap year’ from their everyday routine.”
Group marketing manager Paris Baloumis says Oceanco worked with a young designer, Timur Bozca of Bozca Design, “in order to fully embrace the millennial mindset.”
“We have dedicated approximately 500 square meters purely for toys,” says Baloumis. “Toys” being snowmobiles, jet skis, a helicopter and submarine, he adds.
The diesel-electric Esquel fits a contemporary trend of superyachts that can function as marine laboratories as well as a vacation vessel for high net-worth individuals. Oceanco say it’s “ideal for couples or friends who want to take a ‘gap year’ from their everyday routine.”
“We’re seeing even younger people purchasing yachts, or families coming together and purchasing them together,” says Alshaali.
“I don’t think it’s just a millennial thing; I think it’s an overall cultural change, where people are saying ‘maybe my grandfather’s generation worked from 8am until 10pm and never enjoyed anything in their life — and we don’t want to do that anymore.”