They say there are yachts, and then super yachts. Wrong. There are yachts, super yachts, and Middle-East super yachts.
The Middle East has long been a luxury goods and services nirvana. Here, you can find anything you want, as long as you have the cash to pay; and there’s no shortage of buyers.
Arab rulers and businessmen alike love their expensive toys and are always seeking out bigger, better, more sophisticated and advanced yachts, cars, and planes. After all, the Qatari royal family allegedly own a whole fleet of Lamborghinis in duck-egg blue.
Recently, a new type of super yacht was launched in China: the Adastra. At 140 feet, the sleek yacht is not long enough to eclipse yachts belonging to other members of the world’s super-rich, but it is packed with new design features. Featuring everything one would need on a leisurely cruise through paradise, it features spacious living quarters and can be controlled from an iPad 164 ft away.
It is seriously cool. However, it’s a minnow by Middle East standards. A mere whippersnapper of a boat, which most sheikhs would release straight back into the sea. Here's how badly it compares to the Middle East’s fleet of similar luxury yachts:
1. The Prince Abdulaziz (KSA)
This 482 ft yacht is owned by the royal family of Saudi Arabia and named after its first king. Built in Denmark and commissioned in 1984, this vessel is fast and luxurious. With enough room for 64 guests – Saudi Royals are an enormous extended family – the yacht is equipped for pleasure. Featuring stylish interiors and the obligatory helicopter landing pad, the ship is able to cruise the world in comfort.
Unique Feature: It apparently has an onboard garage for all the cars that the royal family will need abroad, including Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis; and spares of course.
2. The Dubai (UAE)
Launched in 2006 and originally destined for Prince Jeffri of Brunei, the Dubai was acquired by Prince Mohammed Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Named after the city that epitomizes opulence and wealth, the Dubai is 531 ft long and weighs 12,500 tons. It took ten years to build and is equipped, as one would expect, with all the necessary razzmatazz fit for a royal yacht. It has been spotted cruising the waters in the Mediterranean.
Inside the yacht features a spiral glass staircase, which is bathed in natural light, as well as fully marble halls. All this together with a striking mosaic pool means that visitors and royalty alike can relax, recline, and watch the world breeze by.
Unique Feature: Its upper deck is made of aluminium to accommodate the ship’s gracious architectural curves. Also, a special dock had to be designed on an exclusive island in the UAE, to accommodate the ship away from prying eyes.
3. Al Said (Oman)
Oman is a quiet country that doesn’t make much of an international splash. The same, however, cannot be said of its Royal yacht the Al Said. At 508 feet, the yacht will stand out from the crowd at any regatta.
Owned by the royal family of Oman headed by Sultan Qaboos, the ship has many features. Sporting a large indoor pool, helicopter landing pad, and sumptuous interiors, the yacht is fully fit for royal travel.
Unique Feature: To avoid snoopers and detection, the ship was code-named “Project Sunflower” during its construction period.
4. El Horriya (Egypt)
Hosni Mubarak is in jail and frequently ruing his downfall. Maybe he reminisces about the Egyptian presidential yacht, its luxuries, and the numerous cruises he enjoyed whilst ruling the country with an iron fist. A downfall from power is always cruel.
At 478 feet long, the El Horriya is one of the biggest and oldest luxury yachts in the world. Built in 1865, the ship is able to carry over 160 passengers in luxurious style through the Nile and the Mediterranean.
Now, there is a debate in Egypt as to what should happen to the ship post-Mubarak. Some wish to keep it, others sell or scrap it. What is certain is that it is one of the few ships in the world that can boast an impeccable pedigree of service, harking back to a forgotten age when luxury travel was the norm.
Unique Feature: The ship is run by the Egyptian navy and goes to sea three times a year, usually for a day or two.
5. El Mirqab (Qatar)
El Mirqab (Qatar)
Owned by the Prime Minister of the small island nation of Qatar, the El Mirqab is a ship that is not quite in the super league of large yachts, but nonetheless punches above its weight, like Qatar itself. At 436 ft long, the yacht has ample room for 60 guests and 60 crew.
What El Miraqb lacks in length, it more than makes up for in opulence. Named in 2009 as ‘Motor Yacht of the Year’ and ‘Best Interior Design’ at the World Motor Yacht Awards, the El Mirqab is a gem of the seas.
Inside, you find elegant design and rich decoration married into a sumptuous décor.
Unique Feature: Forbes Magazine ranked it as the world’s second most beautiful yacht against some pretty stiff competition.
6. HMS Tasteless
In the annals of the vulgar and tasteless excesses of the Muammar Gaddafi regime, the yacht apparently commissioned by son Hannibal Gaddafi takes the prize for most vulgar Middle East yacht.
Hannibal – a wanabee professional footballer – was going to pay over $450 million for a private yacht to rival those of billionaires and Gulf Sheikhs. At its heart was to be a tank to hold Hannibal’s shark collection. Weighing in at over 140 tons, the tank is highly reminiscent in design of those in which James Bond finds himself dunked on occasion.
Sadly for him, but happily for Libya, this was not to be.
After the fall of the regime last year, Hannibal fled to Algeria and will likely remain there. In the meantime, the yacht has been sold and will now be a cruise liner, such is the size of it.
Unique Feature: Having everything in such hideous hues of ‘tacky.’