Dubai: Thousands of people have descended on Dubai's Festival City for the annual Gulf Bike Week, which supports a motorcycle market in the region that is worth more than $1.75 billion (Dh6.4 billion).
The event, which is organised by Clarion Events Middle East in partnership with the Dubai Shopping Festival, runs until this evening and features a range of stunt shows, riding activities and motorcycle exhibitions.
Christopher Hudson, Managing Director of Middle East Communications and Forums, the event organisers, said the bike market in the UAE was steadily increasing by about 20 per cent year-on-year.
He said: "The festival started off three years ago in a car park with one bike manufacturer. It has grown into an event that attracts more than 40,000 people as well as international music acts such as Pharrell Williams, N*E*R*D and Amy Winehouse. In addition, we have the Rolling Stone music stage where we are featuring 12 of the hottest regional bands every day."
Hudson says Gulf Bike Week has become a real urban festival that is built around the biking community.
"This is the largest dedicated bike festival anywhere in the Middle East. People can see loads of really cool bikes, clothing, accessories and lifestyle products. It really is a meteoric rise; the big growth area is in off-road bikes, such as dirt bikes and quad bikes. We have got a wonderful climate to race out in the desert and that is where we see the real business," he added.
The 6,800 square metre exhibition marquee is showcasing 150 of the world's leading motorcycle manufacturers including Harley-Davidson, Ducati, BMW, Honda, Polaris, KTM, Liberty, Kawasaki, Zoo York and Ed Hardy.
The event supports a market that is worth over $1.75 billion regionally and is poised to grow further with the UAE and Saudi Arabia expected to maintain the majority of the region's market share.
Paul De Jongh, Country Manager of Harley-Davidson, Middle East and North Africa, said the company had weathered the worst of the global financial crisis and was well placed to register growth over the next 12 months.
"We have built a fantastic motorcycling culture in the GCC, and across the wider Middle East, over the last decade, which we have managed to sustain despite the economic difficulties of the last two to three years. We have actually witnessed tremendous growth in terms of people interested in the brand, especially in new products like the Sportster 48," he said.
"We have enjoyed growth throughout the economic difficulties and that seems to have continued going into 2011. We are looking to increase the amount of dealers across the network over the next three to four years. We also want to make the brand more accessible to people. For a lot of our customers it starts with a dream."
De Jongh continued: "My own dream started when my father put me on a motorcycle when I was five-years-old and we hope to ignite a lot of dreams this weekend."
Harley-Davidson is showcasing its new demo tool Jump Start at this year's expo. The portable device gives visitors the opportunity to sit in the saddle of a running Harley-Davidson motorcycle and is aimed at generating sales leads for the dealership.
De Jongh says the technology is particularly for people without licences and those who have never ridden a motorcycle, adding that he wants potential customers to "get a feel for the emotions and passion that go with the brand".
"We have had a tremendous amount of interest from the public. A lot of people who imagined it would be difficult to ride a Harley have come off the Jump Start technology very surprised. A lot of people think Harley's are more expensive than they actually are and the UAE dealership is doing a great job showcasing the entry level into Harley and making people realise the dream is very achievable," he said.
Moufaq Noor, Product Manager of Auto Sport LLC, a subsidiary of Al Yousuf LLC, the sole distributor for Suzuki motorcycles in the UAE, said: "This is the third time that Suzuki has had a presence at Gulf Bike Week. The exhibition is a great platform to display our new products and business is good." Gulf Bike Week is also an affiliate of the American Motorcycle Dealer's World Championship of Custom Bike Building and the winner of the Dubai competition will be given the opportunity to enter their bike into the championship finals at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the US.
Among the other activities on display, the region's best skateboarders and BMX riders have gathered to conduct clinics and perform demonstrations for enthusiasts at the festival's "Rage Zone".
Bike enthusiasts gathered in hundreds at Dubai Festival City as the Gulf Bike Week officially opened on Thursday.
The opening was attended by Ebrahim Abdul Malek Al Ameen, Secretary-General of the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, and Ebrahim Saleh, Festivals General Coordinator and Deputy CEO of Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment.
Abdul Malek and Saleh toured the exhibition that features the latest bikes and everything related to the motorbike world in addition to seeing a stunt show by dirt-bike riders.
Besides a plethora of biking events, stunt shows, riding activities and the motorcycles themselves, a highlight of this year is the Charity Bike Ride, which will bring together an exceptional community of individuals to help raise awareness for autism. Motorcycle clubs from across the GCC will support this worthy cause.
Gulf Bike Week, an affiliate of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, welcomes anyone with a desire to build quality custom bikes to compete and showcase their skill, artistry, passion and genuine love for motorcycles. The winner will be given an opportunity to enter the winning custom bike into the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the USA and compete against the best custom bike builders in the world.
The 6,800 square metre exhibition marquee is expected to draw in over 40,000 visitors. It will showcase the very latest in sport bikes, cruisers, off-road and all-terrain vehicles, apparel, accessories, custom-designed bikes and motorcycle-related products, as well as major international lifestyle brands from more than 150 leading manufacturers including Harley Davidson, Ducati, BMW, Honda, Polaris, KTM, Liberty Kawasaki, Zoo York and Ed Hardy.
Gulf Bike Week is the Middle East's only dedicated motorbike exhibition and supports a market that is worth over $1.75 billion regionally and is poised to grow, with the KSA and UAE expected to maintain the majority of the region's market share.
Event: Riders support autism charity