Alshaali is Chairman of Gulf Craft, which he co-founded in 1982 and developed into the Middle East’s most prolific superyacht builder. He has held many international roles including UAE’s ambassador to the USA, ambassador to the Security Council, representative at the UN European Office in Geneva, and finally Minister of State for Foreign Affairs before retiring in 2008 and dedicating himself to Gulf Craft. Its dealers in Asia include Farfalla Marine (Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), B Yachts (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia) and Go Boating Thailand (for Silvercraft and Utility Series).
With Gulf Craft turning 40 in 2022, how do you feel the company is positioned today?
In the past 40 years, we have carried the UAE flag all over the world, proudly displaying and selling our vessels as ‘Made in the UAE’. We have reached a stage where we see every marina in the world displaying a Gulf Craft boat.
We have started planning our 40th-anniversary celebrations and are looking forward to an exciting year. Our sights are set on further expansion of our product range and international presence, with an aim to be one of the top five superyacht builders by 2025.
How has the company evolved from humble beginnings to appearing regularly in the top 10 and top 20 of the Global Order Book for superyachts in recent years?
When we launched Gulf Craft in 1982, there was no marine infrastructure or skilled labour force available in the UAE. We were not able to turn to local suppliers for support.
Our shipyard is vertically integrated, which means that we manufacture almost all components of our products in-house, except for major machinery. This was borne out of necessity but became one of our greatest assets as it has allowed us to control each level of our manufacturing process and assure an optimum level of quality.
How has Covid-19 affected your business and operations?
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented many challenges as well as opportunities for us. At one point, the global supply chain had ceased completely, making it very difficult to receive materials from overseas.
Reduced manpower due to social distancing continues to be a challenge, but our operations team worked tirelessly to keep the shipyard up and running throughout the year and successfully delivered two superyachts at the height of the pandemic.
Towards the end of 2020, we started to see demand pick up for boats and yachts of all sizes, with many people choosing boating as an ideal way to escape the confines of a lockdown. What better way to socially distance safely with your family than out on the water!
And despite the challenges of the pandemic, in late 2020 Gulf Craft proudly launched and sea-trialled our flagship Majesty 175, the world’s largest composite yacht in production today.
Which are Gulf Craft’s major regional markets?
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