While Waiting to Fly into Space, Abu Dhabi Royal Family Pulls Ahead in Yacht Race

While members of Abu Dhabi’s royal family await their chance to fly into space aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, they have found a new travel diversion to keep them occupied.

Specifically, the world’s largest yacht — by quite a lot.

Abu Dhabi Emir and United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nayan is the proud owner of the Azzam, a 590-foot (180-meter) long floating palace with six bridges, a 6,000-square foot (550-square meter) lounge, a crew of 50, and a top speed of at least 30 knots (55.6 km/h).

The UAE leader takes over the top spot from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, whose yacht measures a mere 536 feet (162.5 meters).

The yacht, which was delivered earlier this year, cost an estimated $400 million to $600 million to build. Nauta Yachts designed the monster ship, which was built by Lürssen of Germany.

That amount is in the range of $390 million Abu Dhabi’s royal family has invested in Virgin Galactic through Aabar Investments. That figure includes $280 million for a 37.8 percent equity share in the company and $110 million into Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne small satellite rocket.

  • Charles Lurio

    This prompts the notion that these Middle Eastern potentates should get together and take over funding of the SLS to pay off Shelby and his fellow porkers. Then US dollars to NASA could be used for something actually useful for the future of spaceflight.

  • mattmcc80

    Alternate suggestion. $600 million is what Kepler cost. Get just one of these absurdly rich superyacht owners interested in space, and they could singlehandedly finance another planet-hunting telescope.