Abu Dhabi Yacht Show

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Abu Dhabi Yacht Show welcomed over 6,000 visitors. Exhibitors viewed the show as an entry point into the lucrative United Arab Emirates market. GL events set sail for Yas Marina and helped Informa Yacht Group bring the event to life at its new location …

The Middle Eastern yachting industry is a growing market, says Informa Yacht Group (IYG), organiser of the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show (ADYS), and a raft of multi-million dollar deals initiated at the event only emphasise growing buoyancy in the region and luxury travel and leisure industry.

The second ADYS saw over 6,000 visitors attend the three-day event, featuring over 140 exhibitors – figures Informa say signal the “tremendous potential” of the yachting business in the Middle East.

“The feedback we have received from the exhibitors, the positive interest shown by various clients and the number of serious buyers that attended, has been extremely encouraging,” Franck Dailles, IYG’s group director commented. “The yachting industry, and the number of yachting and marine-related businesses in Abu Dhabi has been growing, and the show is playing a significant role in further strengthening its claim to be a global superyacht destination for this region.”

The inaugural show in March 2009 opened to an enthusiastic reception at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). By general consensus, it provided a wealth of business opportunities and catered to industry requirements for quality and exclusivity, seeing sales of vessels totaling over $100 million. Its organisers suggest that this confirmed the growing importance of Abu Dhabi as a leading superyacht and megayacht destination.

Informa, renowned for its marine industry events, also organise the Monaco Yacht Show and the World Yacht Racing Forum; and it is also set to manage the Superyacht Cup Special Edition, which will take place in Cowes, Isle of Wight, in 2012.

Pitch and plan

IIR Middle East – one of Informa’s commercial divisions – has staged and managed ADYS 2010, which saw visitors from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Russia boost local traffic numbers at the show’s new home. Taking place at Yas Marina from February 25-27, and headline sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, ADYS took the decision to, for the first time, host the event in temporary structures.

GL events Owen Brown, led by global events director Darren Woodhouse, supplied 7,000 square metres of temporary structures including three exhibition halls and a hospitality structure, following an initial pitch in September 2009.

Explained Woodhouse: “We pitched for the contract in September. The event was originally going to be looked after by ADNEC but then IIR came in on behalf of Informa to manage the event. We found out that we had won the pitch on Christmas Eve. Yet, we did not know the exact event site at this time.”

Woodhouse was initially asked to look at building the show’s structures upon over 5,000 square metres of temporary floating pontoon. This plan was scraped however when it was decided that the event would be split between both Yas Marina and Yas Marina circuit.

Woodhouse and Scott Hayward, group operations director, commenced site visits in early January, working alongside Yamini Bhat, group operations director of IIR Middle East, who had seen Owen Brown’s work at the inaugural Dubai World Championships in November. A technical meeting and product review ensued before the contract was confirmed, the result of flexibility, quick and efficient responses and helpfulness, continued Woodhouse.

Expect the unexpected

A GL events Owen Brown crew of eight and an eight-strong local crew, took 10 days to build the giant pavilion and Absolute structures, which were weighted to cope with the strong Gulf winds, and also boasted new PVC skins.

Confirmations of the exact locations of the structures were not received until one week before the event and, during the build, the structures increased in size. This factor was pre-empted however, with the event equipment supplied in two shipments. Plus, GL events left an element of kit from the Dubai World Championships, mainly flooring and panels, in the UAE.

GL events utilised the same local crew that it had used for the Dubai World Championships; this saved on time as the workforce were familiar with the structures, a significant advantage continued Woodhouse.

“Build began on February 8 and ran until February 17. An Audi event at the Yas Marina circuit from February 18-20 prevented any work taking place on-site, and so the structures had to be ready to hand over to Projex, which began fit-out on February 21.”

The hospitality structure, fully fitted, with a decked area to the front and sides also boasted air conditioning, supplied by Watkins Hire, and lighting by GL Middle East. But while the structures themselves were geared up for every eventuality, the show’s organisers experienced a variety of challenges including severe rain, lightning and thunder storms and the death of a member of the Royal family, resulting in the cancellation of the official show opening.


Now that the show is over, much of the equipment is heading to South Africa. GL events Owen Brown has been appointed by FIFA to build the Media Centre for England at its base in Phokeng, near Rustenburg. Woodhouse will oversee the build from mid-April whilst Hayward will oversee the GL events contract to supply FIFA with media overlay services – 15,000 square metres of Owen Brown stock will supplement the 30,000 square metres of GL events kit that is set to be installed.