While ex­pen­sive cars may do it for some, ev­ery­one knows that the ul­ti­mate boys’ toys ei­ther float or fly. But there’s plenty to think about be­fore you buy, says Kevin Hack­ett

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In­vest­ing in boys’ toys that fly and float


Is there a more ob­vi­ous sign of per­sonal wealth than hav­ing your own air­craft? Hol­ly­wood ac­tor John Tra­volta keeps a num­ber of mod­els out­side his Florida home, which hap­pens to be sit­u­ated next to a sub­stan­tial land­ing strip at Jum­bo­lair, de­scribed by its de­vel­oper as “Amer­ica’s premier avi­a­tion com­mu­nity”. He must re­ally, re­ally like fly­ing – but then, with a for­tune amount­ing to hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars, he can af­ford to in­dulge.

Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, most own­ers of pri­vate jets change them ev­ery four or five years, since they can cost any­where be­tween US$700,000 and $4 mil­lion (up to Dh14.7m) a year to run. Which is prob­a­bly why the late Felix Dennis, one of Bri­tain’s wealth­i­est en­trepreneurs, ad­vised that if it flies or floats “al­ways rent it. It’s cheaper in the long run.” And there is no short­age of op­tions avail­able should you wish to have the ben­e­fits of a pri­vate jet with­out the re­spon­si­bil­ity of own­er­ship.

Emi­rates Ex­ec­u­tive, for in­stance, op­er­ates a fleet of Air­bus A319s, which can carry up to 19 guests and sleep up to 15. You can choose your own menus and seat con­fig­u­ra­tion – and the cabin can be con­verted into a lux­u­ri­ous board­room if you wish. Royal Jet in Abu Dhabi of­fers its own be­spoke ser­vices, as well as med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion op­tions, sep­a­rate se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion, and ab­so­lute dis­cre­tion. If you want to char­ter a pri­vate jet to get from Abu Dhabi to Manch­ester, for in­stance, Pri­vate Fly will sort that for you at a mo­ment’s no­tice, with a medium-size jet cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately Dh190,000 each way.


While hav­ing your own pri­vate jet can be akin to set­ting fire to mil­lions of dirhams each year, a he­li­copter might make more fis­cal sense, par­tic­u­larly if your jour­neys are more re­gional than in­ter­na­tional. And the fact that you can land one in your back gar­den, if it’s suf­fi­ciently spa­cious, makes a chop­per an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for many, whether they are us­ing it for busi­ness or plea­sure.

Get­ting your pi­lot’s li­cence will cost ap­prox­i­mately Dh100,000, and the rat­ing of he­li­copter that you’ll be al­lowed to fly de­pends on what ex­ams you pass. A lux­ury Bell 525 he­li­copter with seat­ing for you and 19 of your friends will cost Dh55m, and you can have its in­te­rior trimmed to match that of your Rolls-Royce,

if you’re de­tail ob­ses­sive. If you’re tempted, it’s highly rec­om­mended to order one with floats (which al­lows you to land on wa­ter) and au­toro­ta­tion (which al­lows you to glide down to earth if the en­gine dies).

Again, though, frac­tional cor­po­rate leas­ing gives the ben­e­fits of own­er­ship with­out the has­sles (think Dh30,000 a month for spo­radic use) and pri­vate char­ters can be had for rel­a­tively lit­tle out­lay, if all you want to do is show your vis­i­tors the UAE’s most fa­mous land­marks from the air.


The costs of buy­ing and run­ning a large yacht are al­most un­be­liev­able – some of them re­quire 50 or 60 peo­ple to run. A cap­tain can com­mand Dh500,000 a year for a large yacht, and your an­nual diesel bill can eas­ily reach Dh1 mil­lion as the en­gines often burn through 500 litres an hour.

De­pend­ing on where it’s kept, dock­ing fees can be in the re­gion of Dh1.2m a year, in­sur­ance is roughly a mil­lion, while an owner should bud­get Dh3m for main­te­nance and re­pairs, and crew costs of up to Dh5m ev­ery year, de­pend­ing where your staff come from and their ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els.

And let’s not for­get the ac­tual pur­chase costs. Rus­sian bil­lion­aire Ro­man Abramovich’s yacht, the 162-me­tre Eclipse, which re­quires 70 crew mem­bers and was, for a time, the largest in the world, re­port­edly set him back nearly Dh2 bil­lion.


It’s all very well be­ing able to own and en­ter­tain guests on a large lux­ury yacht but, when it comes to mar­itime ad­ven­ture, there’s noth­ing that touches be­ing be­neath the waves. So it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that many yachts now sport their own per­sonal sub­marines, which can ac­com­mo­date be­tween one and six guests.

The C-Re­searcher 2, made by U-Boat Worx, is cur­rently the deep­est div­ing per­sonal sub in the world, able to reach depths of up to 3,000 me­tres with two peo­ple on board. An­other, three-per­son model is avail­able, which can dive to 1,700 me­tres. The cost? Even U-Boat’s small­est, shal­low­est div­ing subs start at Dh8.5 mil­lion, while pric­ing is “avail­able on re­quest” for the more se­ri­ous ma­chin­ery. If you have to ask…

If it’s sub­mersible lux­ury and beau­ti­ful de­sign you han­ker for, As­ton Martin and Tri­ton Sub­marines will be launch­ing their jointly de­vel­oped Project Nep­tune later this year. The three-seater sub­mersible is ca­pa­ble of go­ing 5 knots (9.2kph) and div­ing to about 500 me­tres, and it’s un­for­tu­nate that any­one on land will rarely get to see one, such is its fu­tur­is­tic phys­i­cal shape, which bor­rows some of the know-how As­ton Martin de­vel­oped with Red Bull Rac­ing for its Valkyrie hy­per­car. In­side the hull, it’s trimmed with the finest hand-stitched leather up­hol­stery and car­bon fi­bre, and the de­sign, should you want to cus­tomise, can be uniquely tai­lored to your tastes by As­ton Martin’s Q divi­sion.

The US Sub­marines Phoenix 1000 prob­a­bly won’t fit on your mega yacht, mea­sur­ing as it does 65 me­tres from nose to tail. Its in­te­ri­ors to­tal 1,500 square me­tres of lux­ury space that can be de­signed ac­cord­ing to one’s wishes, and there’s even space for a small car. The deck sa­loon’s views through eight ex­pan­sive win­dows can be en­joyed from the liv­ing and din­ing ar­eas, while the guest cab­ins also have gen­er­ous port­holes. It’s es­ti­mated to cost north of Dh330m but, for now at least, it re­mains a the­o­ret­i­cal prod­uct as no­body seems to have com­mis­sioned one yet. You just know, how­ever, that it’s only a mat­ter of time.

Clockwise from left, pri­vate jets can be rented and cus­tomised as per the client’s pref­er­ence; Ro­man Abramovich’s yacht Eclipse cost nearly Dh2 bil­lion; per­sonal heli­copters are ideal for re­gional trans­port; and Project Nep­tune is a lux­u­ri­ous sub­ma­rine co-de­vel­oped by Tri­ton and As­ton Martin

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