Dubai – home to over 200 nationalities from around the world – is undeniably one of the most luxurious tourist destinations. From stocking latest fashion trends in stores to offering an endless variety of entertainment options, the Gulf emirate is now also among the top vacation spots on video application TikTok. Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the city introduced a new mode of travel to both residents and tourists – yachts. “It’s more private, you’re with only family and friends, and it’s the ideal outing during a pandemic,” said Nada Naeem, a 36-year-old Saudi citizen living in Dubai, reported AFP.
A bevy of white yachts are seen every day, while others are docked along the coast in Gulf waters overlooking the skyline of high-rise towers. “You feel like you can breathe,” Naeem said, adding that she had not left Dubai since the pandemic began last year. “It’s like you’ve travelled.”
For locals who can afford the hefty price of yachts, they prefer it for its safety. “When they eased the lockdown, people preferred something secure and safe with regulations,” said Mohammed al-Sayyed, manager of Royal Star Yachts charter company. “We are providing them with the proper customer service, following all the rules, sanitising the yacht.” For now, yachts are allowed to operate at 70% capacity.
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The company has a fleet that includes a 141-foot (42-metre) yacht able to host 80 passengers at full capacity – if you can afford the $4,900 price for a three-hour cruise. Charter companies said they have seen an increased interest in yachting after coronavirus measures eased, especially among those who want to spend time with friends and family. “People want to do sightseeing, cruising,” said Sayyed, who has been in the yacht industry for eight years. “They want to relax,” he added. Others however, feel like that price of booking the yacht is not as expensive as people would assume it to be. “It can actually be more affordable than an all-inclusive brunch at a restaurant,” said Naeem. Sayyed noted that even on the most luxurious “party yachts”, there are Covid-19 regulations still in place, including the need for passengers to socially distance from each other and wear masks.