The launch story of the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show

Alex Nicholl talks us through the challenges of launching a brand new boat show. Alex has over 15  years’ experience in the exhibitions industry and is Business Development Director for the Abu Dhabi International Boat show

Exhibition organising is in our genes however, boat show organising was a new challenge which we successfully rose to, ultimately exceeding even our own expectations. When it was decided at IDEX LLC in April 2017 that we would hold a boat show worthy of gathering international renown in just 18 months, we knew it would be a rewarding yet challenging experience. The planning and preparation for the boat show provided a steep learning curve but was incredibly rewarding experience.

The message to our potential exhibitors was simple. Firstly, Abu Dhabi can deliver a concentrated audience of high-net-worth individuals. Secondly, not only is Abu Dhabi a marine industry hub for the Middle East but it is also a fantastic boating destination, surrounded by over 200 stunning islands, begging to be explored. For the launch edition of Abu Dhabi International Boat Show (ADIBS), we partnered with British Marine Boat Shows, the organisers of the London and Southampton Boat Shows, Abu Dhabi Ports, and with the Emirate’s Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA).

We exceeded our attendance targets, with over 21,000 attendees. The exhibitor and brand target was also topped by 80 per cent, with 270 in attendance, including renowned brands such as Gulf Craft, Princess Yachts, Monte Carlo Yachts and Sunseeker. There were 96 boats on display, 20% more than we had anticipated for the first year and I’m proud to say that there were 23 new product launches during the show. We concluded that launching ADIBS encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit and drive that certainly in this case led to incredible success. Additionally, the unique positioning of the show as a Uniquely Abu Dhabi experience that did not emulate the style of other international shows was the key to its success.

For an independent measurement of visitor and exhibitor feedback, we engaged Nielsen, who reported visitor satisfaction of 97 per cent and an exhibitor satisfaction rate of 95 per cent, exceeding the 85 per cent target we had set ourselves. ADIBS also attracted the attention of 105 international and local media representatives, so it is safe to say that it made a splash!

The planning and preparation for the boat show provided a steep learning curve but was incredibly rewarding experience. We concluded that launching ADIBS encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit and drive that certainly in this case led to incredible success. Additionally, the unique positioning of the show as a truly Abu Dhabi focussed experience that did not emulate the style of other international shows was the key to its success.


The inaugural edition of ADIBS organised by ADNEC has been shortlisted by aeoawards for Best International Show – Middle East and Africa, and Best Consumer Launch. ADIBS 2019 will return to ADNEC Marina 16th-19th October and we are already on track to have a bigger and better show than last year with an enhanced sports fishing zone and a newly introduced Luxury Boulevard. Online ticket sales will go live later this year.


  • We are honored to support ADNEC on such a high-profile event as it caters to our client base at EMC as well. EMC will be giving visitors and delegates the chance to explore the new era of intelligent driving in our Mercedes-Benz range.

    Frank Bernthaler
    CEO of ALFAHIM Automotive

  • Abu Dhabi has been witnessing a growing number of passengers at its cruise terminal area over the last few years. The pioneering edition of the Abu International Boat Show, which is set to attract exhibitors and visitors from around the world, will contribute in the ongoing efforts to introduce the unique features offered by Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s marine tourism sector.

    Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamsi
    CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Company

  • We are very pleased to be supporting ADIBS as the Official Healthcare Provider, we place great focus on best health care practices and quality services. Our partnership with ADNEC aims to endure the safety of all visitors and participants at the boat show through providing the required medical services on site or transfer cases that require further attention to one of our facilities in the city by well-equipped and staffed ambulances.

    Dr. Marwan Al Kaabi
    Group Readiness and Business Continuity Director of SEHA

  • We are proud to join hands with ADNEC for the first edition of the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show. The show is providing us with a valuable platform to share our tailored solutions and industry expertise with marine industry professionals and luxury yacht owners in Abu Dhabi. Our global market reach and specialist insurance expertise enables us to provide competitively-priced, customised programs to those with insurance requirements in the UAE.

    Carol Roberts
    Super Yacht Practice Leader at Integro

  • “As an award-winning Emirates-based shipyard, Gulf Craft is delighted to support the initiative of the Abu Dhabi government by exhibiting at the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show (ADIBS). Gulf Craft is excited to showcase a selection of yachts and boats from its world acclaimed brands Majesty Yachts, Nomad Yachts, Oryx and Silvercraft. Abu Dhabi is home to some of the largest superyacht owners in the world and is also a destination for all boaters in the region.”

    An Official Spokesperson
    from Gulf Craft

  • "We are really looking forward to the first ever ADIBS 2018 and believe it will be a real showcase event to exhibit the latest technology to the Middle East market.  We are proud to be part of this new venture right at the very start and look forward to creating new relationships through our cutting edge technology."

    James Tupper
    BGB spokesperson

  • "Bush & Noble Yacht Brokerage are very excited to participate in this highly anticipated show. I believe this event will provide the ideal platform for the entire marine industry and yachting enthusiasts to connect and discover everything this flourishing region has to offer. This year, Bush & Noble has been appointed as the official dealer for Gulf Crafts pre-owned yachts and boats, the leading luxury yacht and leisure boat builder in the Middle East. The ADIBS will offer an invaluable opportunity for yachting enthusiasts to view and experience the unique quality and luxury that Gulf Graft offers."

    John Bush

  • "Elboat is very excited and proud to be taking part in the very first Abu Dhabi Boat show. Elboat will be show casing two new boat designs to Abu Dhabi; the Elboat 29 and Elboat Skiff."


  • "Elcome International is very pleased to participate in the first Abu Dhabi International Boat Show. Abu Dhabi is an important emerging centre of boating activity, with a growing number of dealers, marinas and boat owners. The Abu Dhabi International Boat Show will provide an opportunity to form closer relationships with the growing number of boat owners in the UAE and to showcase Elcome’s range of products and services. The first edition of the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show, held in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is an important event, marking the ‘coming of age’ of the region’s boating industry."

    Jimmy Grewal
    Executive Director of Elcome International

  • "The Abu Dhabi international boat show opens doors to a new world of yachting within the UAE. We already have a steady stream of yachts and loyal clientele in Abu Dhabi, and being a part of the show would assist in furthering the hallmark features of our brand and its products. the last couple of years has seen a large number of product launches at Sunseeker and as we bring in a new range of more beautiful designs, beamier and spacious hulls with latest features including beach clubs on most of our yachts, our presence at the show is bound to be a busy one. We wish the Abu Dhabi international Boat Show team best of success in this new chapter in Middle East yachting."

    Mohammed Al Jasmi
    General Manager

  • "Lumishore is delighted to attend and support the 1st Abu Dhabi International Boat Show. The UAE is critically important to the global Boating Industry and we all hope that this show is a great success for the boating public and Abu Dhabi. Lumishore has not exhibited at a UAE show with its own exhibition stand for many years and we are sure that the boating world will be excited by our latest innovative World-leading lighting products."

    Eifrion Evans
    CEO, Lumishore