al mirqab iconic yacht overhead

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Iconic yachts: On board Al Mirqab, the 133m superyacht with family at its heart

15 October 2021 • Written by Risa Merl


Motor Yacht
Peterswerft - Kusch ·  133.2 m ·  2008

Launched in 2008 by Peterswerft-Kusch, the iconic yacht Al Mirqab was designed by two of the top superyacht designers, with Tim Heywood penning her exterior and Winch Design creating the interior. But it is more than her design pedigree that makes this icon a standout. Her size was formidable at the time of her launch, and to this day, the 133 metre Al Mirqab remains among the top five per cent of the largest yachts in the world. Al Mirqab also blazed the trail for having many large-scale amenities.

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Al Mirqab was first launched in 2008
All images: Peter Seyfferth/

Built for Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former Prime Minister and Minister of Qatar, Al Mirqab has the largest spa that Winch Design has ever worked on to this day, featuring an enclosed pool and balcony terraces that fold down over the sea, and her exterior has many firsts for Heywood as well. “I met the client in 2003, after he was unsuccessful in purchasing [115-metre] Pelorus,” says Heywood. “He wanted a yacht in a similar style to contain a much larger number of guests and family cabins, an internal swimming pool with balconies, a large gym, sauna, hairdressing saloon and all the features which we now take for granted on the larger scale yachts.”

Permanent cantilevered sun awnings on the aft owner’s deck were a first, and they give a vast shaded area to the dining table. The helicopter pad with a refuelling station was also the largest Heywood had designed at the time, which necessitated considerable structural work by the yard. The yacht’s vast aft platform is a design feature that Heywood had developed from previous designs. It provides an additional entertaining/relaxation space, as well as a stately arrival and departure environment.

Tim Heywood penned the exterior while Winch Design created the interior.

“The underwater lights were also quite advanced for those days and, for the second time (the first being Pelorus), I mounted lights on the upper surface of the bulbous bow to illuminate the above water bow at night, a feature adopted by many designers since,” says Heywood.

Winch added several features to Heywood’s original arrangement, including an underwater viewing room, set forward of the internal swimming pool. Decorated in a pirate theme, the room became a family favourite. “This magical area, with chests of gold and pirate influences provided a space to inspire the children and hopefully young children again today,” says Winch. “It is for all to enjoy and experience the underwater beauty of the ocean.”

Other fanciful spaces on board include the family lounge overlooking the bow, which is decorated with the concept of butterflies. Light sycamore walls are clad with soft fabrics results to create a gentle and relaxing ambience. Meanwhile, the beamy main deck saloon was created in a square plan with seating areas in each quarter of the room. “It has a courtyard terrace feel, with fountains and casual seating around a sculpture centrepiece,” says Winch.

“Contemporary classic” is how Heywood describes Al Mirqab’s exterior design

The brief to Winch was for a palatial family interior, with a focus on lifestyle encompassing children’s apartments and areas where the whole family can join their time together and experience the joy of great yachting. “The interiors team cut no corners in the design and manufacture of the materials, furniture and fixtures, creating an interior of such high standard that it is still outstanding today,” Winch says.

The owner was pleased with the vision that the design team brought to life, as Heywood recalls. “I remember taking the client into the completed wheelhouse and telling him that I wanted to create a cross between a Bentley and the Starship Enterprise, after looking around, he told me, ‘Tim, you have succeeded!’”

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Al Mirqab was a milestone project for Winch, Heywood and her owner

“Contemporary classic” is how Heywood describes Al Mirqab’s exterior design. “It’s a style that, I think, will be appreciated as very modern when she was first launched, but will be regarded by the knowledgeable observer as a classic design after twenty-plus years at sea,” he says. The most dominating feature of Al Mirqab’s exterior is her towering mast and funnel structure, which was designed to ensure that no exhaust fumes from the five generators found their way down to the open deck spaces, a problem the client had faced before on a previous yacht. Exhaustive wind tunnel tests were performed to confirm the height and forms of these structures. “She has, in my eyes, successfully progressed through time, still looking fresh and contemporary. She still has a commanding presence when anchored in a bay, surrounded by younger and even longer vessels.”    Despite her imposing size, or perhaps thanks to it, Al Mirqab is at heart a family yacht. “I believe Andrew and I pushed the concept of a family and (informal) State Yacht as far as we could, at the time, resulting in a travelling home for the client that is still used by the original owner and his family,” says Heywood. As an iconic yacht, Al Mirqab has certainly withstood the test of time.

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Al Mirqab was a milestone project for Winch, Heywood and her owner. “The client gave me the opportunity to create a yacht that is a major chapter in my yacht designing career, for which I am extremely grateful,” Heywood says. “I don’t often look back at my work, but this piece of floating sculpture still makes me smile and fills me with pride.”

Winch echoes this sentiment, looking back fondly at Al Mirqab and confirming her place among the most iconic yachts in the world. “Al Mirqab was a landmark project of such great scale, design and opportunity,” says Andrew Winch of Winch Design. “She is a truly significant yacht and one I have treasured ever since her completion. She’s an icon for a reason, and her exceptional quality still stands amongst the yachts of today.”

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