YV&C;’s Monaco Yacht Show Live Coverage – Arabian Knights and Their Floating Palaces

Some of the largest, most opulent yachts in the world belong to Arab royalty and businessmen. Only one, Phocea, the largest privately owned sailing yacht in the world, owned by a woman, is available for charter.

Arab royalty and oil sheiks, like most Western elite with a taste for a lavish lifestyle, are fond of adding a megayacht or two as part of their big ticket possessions since they constitute the ultimate status symbol.

A mega or super yacht is defined as a private luxury cruising vessel that is at least 85 feet in length. Some currently being built are surpassing 450ft! At one time a 75ft boat was considered large. Now even 150ft is seen as modest. The cost can run in the tens of millions of dollars, and annual running expenses can add an average of 10-12% of the yacht’s value.

(September 21, 2005, Monaco) – Carmen Gonzalez and Robyn Forma with Lady Maura during the 15th Annual Monaco Yacht Show in Monte Carlo.

In the megayacht segment, in which quality, reliability, and above all discretion are called for, German and Dutch boatyards and suppliers are usually the most sought after by the most discerning customers. Prominent names in this sector are Feadship, Oceanco, Lurssen, Abeking & Rasmussen, and Blohm & Voss.

Arab clients normally require speed and luxury at the lowest possible price, since they are known to be tough hagglers despite their wealth. They also seek the facilities equivalent to those of a five-star hotel in a vessel that can move from place to place at very high speeds. For them the yacht serves various functions including prestige, family/personal use, and corporate use.

It would probably not be much of a surprise if we told you that along with the Greeks, Arab rulers and princes own a significant number of the top 100 largest and most luxurious of today’s yachts. These include a 223 footer for the ruler of Bahrain, built in Italy; a 462ft German model built for a senior Saudi royal; and the modest 150ft Sea Jewel built in Holland for Prince Talal’s brother, Prince Nawaf. These floating villas are styled by renowned naval architects and yacht designers – the best money can hire. On average, it takes at least 23 months or so from design concept to launching.

Since Arabs prefer privacy and confidentiality and do not care much for sunbathing, their custom-built yachts lack much open deck space; instead, they spend most of their time inside their larger interiors. Except for the largest motor sailing vessel in the world, Phocea (see sidebar), don’t expect these owners to place their yachts on the charter market any time soon as they keep their yachts strictly for private use.

Their desired cruising grounds are the French Riviera and Balearics in the Spanish region where many of them also own homes. This is where you will usually spot their yachts, especially during the summer months.

On the following pages is a list of some of the largest yachts owned by Arabs, placed in descending order of length.

Platinum, 525ft
Scheduled for launch early next year, this behemoth whose size and facilities more resemble a private mini cruise ship than a luxury yacht had its hull and superstructure built jointly by two of the most prominent German boatyards. She was then brought to the United Arab Emirates for completion, including outfitting of the interior. The vessel was originally ordered and intended for Prince Jafri of Brunei, but was eventually bought out by a Dubai businessman. When launched, she will become the Royal yacht, with accommodation for 24 guests in sumptuous staterooms, each with its own balcony. Facilities will include a barbeque area, a cinema, a disco, a squash court, a gymnasium, a helicopter pad, and a storage area for a submarine.

Prince Abdul Aziz, 482ft
This gigantic yacht is owned by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia who is very ill these days. He named his yacht after his favorite son. It is by far the largest yacht in the world, but rumor has it that an American industrialist may soon be earning the new record with a length of 525ft. Prince Abdul Aziz is equipped with self-contained facilities, a large garage for numerous vehicles, and highly sophisticated security equipment including an underwater surveillance system. She spends most of her time in the port of Jeddah.

Al Salamah, 460ft
Presently the seventh largest in the world and more a cruise liner than a yacht, she was built for Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia by L├╝rssen and HDW in Germany – two of the finest boatyards in the world.

Lady Moura, 344ft
A renowned superyacht in Arab hands and often seen moored in Monte-Carlo, she is owned by multi-millionaire Saudi Arabian businessman Mohammed al-Rashid. Lady Moura is so large she cannot enter the town harbor and must moor alongside the port wall. Lady Moura is reputed to have cost in excess of $100 million, carries a crew of 60, and incorporates features such as a beach resort complete with sand, a large pool with a retractable roof, and a 75ft dining table custom-made by Viscount Linley.

Al Said, 340ft
This is the yacht the Sultan of Oman proudly cruises on board. She is alleged to be the largest yacht built in Italy thus far, and includes a helicopter platform for quick escapes by air.

Al Mirqab, 311ft
Don’t expect to find this yacht anywhere near Qatar where its royal owner reigns. Her playground is the Spanish vicinity of Mallorca where she usually cruises during the summer months. She is considered to be the largest yacht built in Holland – for now at least.

Kingdom 5KR, 281ft
Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, considered the “Warren Buffet of the Arab world,” had bought the yacht from real-estate mogul Donald Trump, but this Italian-built yacht was originally built for Adnan Khashoggi. The prince renamed the vessel Kingdom 5KR, after his company, lucky number, and the initials of his daughter and wife. He also had his yacht painted a shade of beige reportedly to mimic the color of sand. He’s known for taking his yacht to Cannes every summer

Golden Odyssey, 265ft
This yacht, owned by a prominent Saudi elite, usually cruises together with Golden Shadow, a 219ft support yacht. Golden Odyssey, however, has something unique – a coral aquarium that extends through two decks prominently displaying her owner’s fascination with the underwater world.

Montkaj, 256ft
Owned by Prince Mohamad, son of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd and a former minister of communications for the country, she is kept at the king’s private berth in Cannes. His suite spreads over two decks and the yacht’s size and lines are made even more striking at night by an elaborate lighting system. It includes fiber optics and accent lights installed in her mast and along the rest of her superstructure.

Lady Sarya, 250ft
She is owned by a former head of OPEC and spends most of her time in the Eastern Mediterranean region. She is known to not cruise frequently. Lady Sarya can be recognized by her side-by-side narrow funnels. She was once filmed (then named La Belle Simone) while hosting a fabulous party and cruising around in the 1970’s movie “The Greek Tycoon.”

Phocea, 246ft
Owned by a Lebanese woman, the former wife of the owner of Lady Moura, Phocea is considered one of the largest sailing vessels in the world and is available for charter – a rarity with Arab owned yachts (see sidebar). Since she was originally built in France as a large ocean racing yacht more than 25 years ago, Phocea has undergone two costly refurbishments and has an opulent interior.

Tueq, 236ft
The owner is reportedly the brother of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, Prince Salman. For its size, this four-deck yacht was impressively well built not long ago, in Holland, in a record 23 months and kept well under wraps from the media.

Alwaeli, 223ft
This Italian custom-built yacht is owned by the ruler of Bahrain and is based in Manama in the Arabian Gulf.

Al Menwar, 209ft
This yacht was built for the former ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa, and is presently owned by a Saudi Arabian. The master suite features both a saloon and a bedroom and measures 44ft long.

Sokar, 208ft
Owned by Mohammed Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of London’s famed Harrod’s department store, this yacht, then named Jonikal, was the focus of the paparazzi’s attention when the late Princess Diana was vacationing on board.

A Taste of Arab Luxe: Chartering PHOCEA
Itinerary suggestion: Monaco – Portofino – Corsica – Sardinia

Monaco is the ideal place to start a cruise on board a vessel as striking as Phocea. A real “head-turner,” the spectacle of Phocea moored in the harbor among the famous sights of Monaco perfectly complements the glamour of the principality. On the first day, a short hop over to Villefranche for the night, taking dinner on the aft deck, is a great way to begin. The combination of superb wines and the chef’s finest cuisine on a tranquil evening will provide the perfect way to celebrate this unforgettable experience.

An early start the next day heading east towards Italy provides the ideal opportunity to enjoy the exhilaration of one of the world’s best sailing yachts in ultimate comfort. Settle onto Phocea’s vast deck spaces to be waited on by her attentive and professional crew as the sails are raised and trimmed by the hydraulic rigging system operated from the bridge. With the chance to stop off at Allassio for lunch and a swim, you will arrive in Portofino just in time to indulge in a sundowner after a thrilling day of sailing. After this, make the most of the evening by kicking back and relaxing in one of the great restaurants in this charming town, or try Santa Margarita, located around the bay from Portofino. Before leaving, it is well worth taking a short trip ’round the headland to visit the small monastery at San Fruttuoso. This stretch of the Tuscany coast is littered with secluded inlets and picturesque ports, such as those of the beautiful Cinque Terre (see article on this region in this issue), which are worth a look.

From here you can cruise down to the historic island of Elba, where Napoleon was exiled following his defeat. The walled Porto Ferrario is the largest port on the island but for those who seek a more tranquil evening, the island abounds in sheltered bays in which Phocea could stop for a quiet evening offshore. After the long cruise of the previous day, you may wish to spend an extra day in the area, exploring the scenery ashore or taking advantage of Phocea’s WaveRunners and water-ski gear. The yacht has an hydraulically operated stern platform allowing for easy access to and from the water after a long snorkel or swim.

From Elba, an overnight cruise around Cap Corse will bring you into the bay of St Florent in time for breakfast while the onward cruise to Calvi passes by a number of small coves that are ideal for Phocea to anchor off while you enjoy a lazy lunch on the upper deck and a dip in the clear Mediterranean waters.

The cruise down from Calvi to Girolata features more excellent bays and beaches, especially those of Nichiareto and Galeria, which are ideal for diving (for certified divers) or snorkeling and exploring the local caves by tender.

Heading south from here you arrive at the port of Ajaccio but you may prefer the more inviting Cacao, a superb little bay on the south side of the gulf, which is frequented by local fishermen who are always game to barter the day’s catch with the chef.

The town of Propriano in the Gulf of Valinco may be of interest to those wishing to soak up some local culture while the bay of Compo Moro on the southwestern side is a great location to use Phocea’s watersports equipment.

After Propriano, head on to the dramatic natural rock entrance to the port of Bonifacio, overlooked by a hilltop castle, an ever-popular destination on the island of Corsica. Across the strait to Sardinia lie the Isole Maddalena, some of the most beautiful islands in the Western Mediterranean and one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.

Leaving the Maddalena and sailing southbound down the stunning coastline, you enter the enchanting splendor of the Costa Smeralda and the world-renowned Porto Cervo, where Phocea will stand out as one of the finest of yachts in this playground of the international jet set. The final choice is yours: to go ashore to soak up the cosmopolitan scene along the portside and in the chic boutiques, or to indulge in a final evening on board, watching the glamorous world go by from the privileged comfort of your own private superyacht.

(September 23, 2005, Monaco) – Lady Maura’s Name Tag Carved in 24 Karat Gold during the 15th Annual Monaco Yacht Show in Monte Carlo.

(September 23, 2005, Monaco) – Lady Maura’s Name Tag Carved in 24 Karat Gold during the 15th Annual Monaco Yacht Show in Monte Carlo.

(September 23, 2005, Monaco) – Lady Maura docked in Port Hecules during the 15th Annual Monaco Yacht Show in Monte Carlo.

(September 23, 2005, Monaco) – Lady Maura docked in Port Hecules during the 15th Annual Monaco Yacht Show in Monte Carlo.

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