When the horns blow at the end of Monaco Yacht Show in September, a steady stream of superyachts begins to make their way west, toward the sunny Caribbean islands. But a handful of adventurous yachts opt to go east instead, and this year they’re heading to Saudi Arabia, where an upgraded marina at Jeddah and a planned $500 billion mega-city on the Red Sea are attracting attention.
The owner and captain of 85-meter Sunrays tell MEE they’ve enjoyed the country’s desert beauty, and that it’s a great winter cruising destination. “The weather is perfect, the water stays warm and there are plenty of places to explore,” they say. They have visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, with its 111 preserved tombs in the desert landscape, Sindalah Island and the Tabuk Province’s sand dunes, and have chartered helicopters to see the area from above. They’ve also made the most of a newly built state-of-the-art marina in Jeddah and the planned city of Neom, which will be one of the most high-end yacht destinations in the world once it opens.
Currently, the country’s largest privately owned superyacht is Al Salamah, which was sold for $280 million last year to the Crown Prince of Bahrain. At the time, she was the second-largest vessel in the world and could be seen gliding around the Cote d’Azur or Monaco at night, displaying a dazzling array of lights. It’s unclear how she will be used, but the yacht has unique amenities that are likely to appeal to the royals. These include a car garage, three hospitals (one for the owner, one for guests and one for crew), a hairdressing salon, a secretary’s office and five galleys to cater to different culinary requirements.
In addition, a dedicated entertainment space includes a disco and cinema. A staff of 94, including a master chef, ensures the yacht can host an intimate party or a large group of guests.
The new project from Aman and Cruise Saudi is slated for 2026 completion at T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa. At a reported 23,000 gross tons, she will be close in size to Evrima, which at 25,400 GT has 149 suites.
Sailing around Saudi Arabia is a little different than in Mediterranean destinations where boats are free to drop anchor anywhere, and cruising fees only run a few hundred euros per month on average. But there’s a push to lure sailors, and they need to submit the locations they want to visit on a portal called Ebhar for pre-approval.
For those considering a Saudi Arabia yacht charter, it’s worth bearing in mind that the country is a highly conservative place, and public displays of affection—even between same-sex couples—are banned. It’s also important to remember that as a Muslim-majority country, the country still has strict rules regarding alcohol and other recreational drugs. saudi arabia yachts