Uncertain about the political upheaval in the Middle East, and what it might mean for the millions of people living under varying degrees of oppression? Hey, Stupid — get ahead of the curve, because there's some serious money to be made in the region right now, in the high-end yacht market! Skeptical? Then just ask Erwin Bamps, the head of luxury ship builder Gulf Craft, who spoke to the Times just ahead of the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show:
"As businesses are allowed to thrive, the people are more free to express their needs," he said. "During 30 years of being in this business, I did not have a single inquiry about a yacht from anyone in Libya."
As soon as the bombs stop falling from the sky and Muammar Qaddafi stops murdering civilians, well, it's open season on the Southern Mediterranean coast. Still, times have been tough in the market. Besides the dip in sales due to the global recession, one of the biggest bummers has been the poors protesting in Bahrain: "The most visible casualty in our sector has been the postponement of the Bahrain Boat Show," the editor of Yachts Emirates magazine told the Times.
But the loss of the Bahrain Boat Show is just one choppy patch in a giant ocean of opportunity. A London-based yacht broker, Simon Goldsworthy told the paper that iron-fisted monarchies like Saudi Arabia are where the real money is. It's a win-win for all, because what better place to relax while your security forces are shooting people than on the sun-drenched deck of a luxury yacht? And, in the unlikely event that the balance of power shifts to the poors, a yacht can also come in handy when you need to scoot out of town:
Indeed, the current unrest might encourage the region's rich to spend more time abroad — or aboard — than they do already. "This might increase a desire to have a yacht to escape to when travelling," [Goldsworthy] said.
Seriously, you can't lose in the Middle East yacht game.