Adocumentary screened on UK TV last month highlighted a growing trend among Arabic supercar owners. Millionaire Boy Racers put the spotlight on a group of rich young twentysomethings from the Gulf as they prepared to ship their rides over to London for the summer. When their matte black Lamborghinis and red Ferraris touched down on London’s unsuspecting streets, the filmmakers captured the reactions of astonished passers-by, disgruntled residents and nonplussed policemen.
But this is only a slice of what we see on a daily basis here in the UAE. According to Sherwin Patel, sales manager at Dubai-based automobile group Exotic Cars, Dubai is one of the top five luxury car markets in the world. ‘Looking at the amount of sales we have per month, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was number one soon,’ he says.
If traffic is any indicator, business is booming: there’s been a surge in the number of cars on Dubai’s roads in the past year. News agency Reuters reported that new car sales in the UAE rose by more than 20 percent in the first eight months of 2012. Some 200,200 new cars were sold in the UAE between January and August 2012 according to industry figures – that’s apparently the biggest leap in the nation’s car sales since 2005.
And it’s not just sales of everyday sedans – there has been plenty of interest in new supercars. ‘We always have a lot of enquiries when a new top-end car is launched,’ says Patel. Many of these will be on display at the three-day Auto Trader Luxury Car Show, which kicks off at Festival City on Thursday February 28. Featuring 300 of the world’s most lust-worthy cars, the event promises plenty to keep petrolheads happy.
So what’s the most drool-worthy machine on the road at the moment? ‘The most expensive car we have in our showroom is a new 2013 Lamborghini Aventador,’ says Patel. ‘It has a price tag of Dhs1.9 million, and we’ve already taken a deposit for it.’ But that’s child’s play compared to the Dhs6.4 million one buyer paid for a Bugatti Veyron Sang Noir, sold at Exotic Cars earlier this year.
Most of us could never imagine spending so much on a car; for others, an automobile with a seven-figure price tag is an essential purchase. ‘Going by the amount of sales we’ve made over the past year or two, I’d say there is one supercar to every 15 cars on the road ,’ says Patel. The rest of us better start saving.
The supercar owner
British investor Karl O’Connor has lived in Dubai for 10 years, and his garage is home to four luxury cars: a Maserati GranTurismo, a Porsche 997 Cabriolet, a Range Rover Sport and an Aston Martin DBS Volante convertible. He says his two-month-old Dhs1.3 million Aston Martin is one of a kind. ‘When I bought it I had the bottom front grill made up to match the top – there’s usually a gap at the bottom,’ he says. ‘Aston Martin charged me almost Dhs100,000. But I think it looks prettier and now it’s the only one in the world that has one.’
Having spent Dhs10 million on cars this year alone (and Dhs65,000 on speeding fines), it seems money is no object for O’Connor.
So why hasn’t he added a Ferrari or Lamborghini to his portfolio? ‘Aston Martin is class and sophistication, whereas a Ferrari or Lamborghini is a statement.’ Yet it seems many car owners in Dubai have no qualms about making bold declarations. ‘Dubai is a bolthole for very rich people. People enjoy luxury and that’s what it’s all about,’ says O’Connor. ‘The weather’s beautiful – that’s why I always drive a convertible.’
Check them out…
Auto Trader Luxury Car Show
February 28-March 2. Free entry; open Thu 2pm-8pm; Fri-Sat 10am-8pm. Dubai Festival City (04 390 3940).
Emirates Classic Car Festival
March 7-9. Free entry; open 10am-10pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 438 4130).
For the diary
Dubai International Motor Show
November 5-9. Free entry. Dubai World Trade Centre, www.dubaimotorshow.com.