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Owning a Superyacht in the Middle East

Owning a Superyacht in the Middle East

A guide for Middle East buyers and owners

Published:
July 14, 2020

It is summer. For many Middle East based families, that usually means a few months spent with friends and family on the Mediterranean coast; for a select few, they will ordinarily use their luxury superyachts as a base of summer operations, cruising around European waters. This year may be different, but this difference will not last forever. Indeed, spending the long hot summer in the Gulf may spur some families in the Middle East who had already been thinking about it, and others who hadn’t, to begin exploring how to go about buying their own piece of paradise and perfect escape for the future.

Buying a superyacht, and joining the exclusive boating world, is a unique yet complex experience. Having a partner who can help navigate the process from day one will ensure a seamless journey – from the possible build, purchase, finance and registration, through to ongoing services for the new yacht.

For prospective buyers in the Middle East, having the right partner is particularly important: The legal rules and fiscal regulations around yacht ownership and management are multifaceted in Europe, especially when compared to the relatively low tax GCC jurisdictions.

The purchase of the Superyacht

Once the prospective owner(s) has made the decision to purchase a superyacht the next step is to make contact with a reliable and reputable sales broker.

As a business with over 45 years’ experience in the yacht industry and a presence in the Middle East, Fiduchi can assist from A to Z.

Once the yacht has been identified Fiduchi will guide the buyer throughout the purchase process to final ownership, ensuring an enjoyable and exciting journey. The prospective owner should engage the services of advisers that specialise in the ownership and management of these luxury assets:

  1. A Corporate Services Provider (CSP) to set up and administer the ownership structure;
  2. A legal/tax adviser; and
  3. A yacht management company.

The prospective owner may already have a preferred CSP or possibly their own family office through which their business affairs and other high value assets are administered. Although their existing CSP/family office will be well versed in the setting up and administration of a corporate structure for the purpose of controlling their business interests, because owning a yacht is such a specialised area it would be prudent to engage the services of specialist superyacht advisers referred to above.

Typical questions for the prospective owner?

Benefits of offshore corporate ownership

Setting up an ownership structure in a well-regulated and reputable offshore jurisdiction provides the following benefits:

  1. Limited liability - limit the liability of the beneficial owner both from a legal and financial perspective to the value of the assets in the structure.
  2. Protection of privacy.
  3. Estate planning/asset protection.
  4. Potential tax and VAT benefits when the yacht is chartered.
  5. Preferred structure by lenders if yacht finance is required.

Flag selection

Flag selection establishes the law under which the yacht conducts its business and operations and is therefore a key decision when considering the overall structure. The nationality of the owner and the intended use of the yacht must be considered when deciding on the most appropriate jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction of the corporate owning structure and the flag state do not have to be one and the same. Several ship registries have offices in multiple locations around the world ensuring that communications are undertaken in the same time zone. For example, a Jersey company can register a yacht in the Cayman Islands and liaise with the Cayman registry via its UK office.

Author
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Christopher Dungan
Regional Director - Middle East
Darren Hocquard
Executive Director
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How can Fiduchi help?

As an independent specialist yacht administration and fiduciary business, Fiduchi has a specialist team which can advise and take care of all matters regarding your superyacht.

As the CSP engaged to set up and administer the bespoke ownership structure, we will arrange the yacht registration in the most appropriate flag state.  We will also engage with the yacht management company and the owner’s legal/tax advisers and work with them on behalf of the owner.

We understand that one of the primary concerns of owners are costs associated with owning a yacht. Therefore, we provide a transparent fixed pricing structure.

The ultimate aim is to ensure the owner and their family and guests can truly relax and enjoy their time aboard.

For more information on our yacht services, please do not hesitate to contact Christopher Dungan on: +971 52 957 8301 or Darren Hocquard on: +971 50 847 5682.

Alternatively, you can send our yacht team a message below:
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The content in this article is provided for general information only and is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. See the full disclaimer here.