Classifieds powered by Gulf News

Luxury car shopping is routine for some

I contemplated the thought of owning one of these magnificent machines

Gulf News

Whilst staring at the gleaming Bugattis, Bentleys and Maseratis on display at the Motor Show yesterday I contemplated the thought of owning one of these magnificent machines.

For many of the guests in attendance it is certainly a realistic aspiration. There remains an abundance of wealth across the UAE and most expatriates, whether they are from the Western world or the subcontinent, have a level of disposable income that far exceeds what they were used to in their home countries.

I'm not about to put a down payment on a brand new Aston Martin but the UAE does allow people to live a little more flamboyant existence and the type of vehicle you drive is no exception.

Take my own car history for instance: I learnt to drive in a Honda Civic with an instructor who ignored my protestations and insisted on picking me up outside the school gates so fellow classmates could laugh as I stalled frequently whilst performing a three-point turn.

After eventually passing my test I progressed to my parent's Fiat Punto, a model perhaps not familiar with many UAE residents and one that is unlikely to be overtaking you on Shaikh Zayed Road anytime soon.

These small, economical cars are commonplace in the UK but the norm in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is monster 4x4s that take up three parking spaces in the mall and are more akin to a tank entering combat than something required for the banalities of everyday life.

In many countries, motor shows simply cater to window shoppers; people who want to see the newest models but purchasing one remains a distant dream. In the UAE, however, we know the vehicles currently surrounded by beautiful women in the halls of the Dubai Convention Centre will soon be on a road near you.

Denizens of the UAE have also become so used to seeing a Ferrari in the carpark at Lulu Hypermarket and a Lamborghini passing through the Hardee's drive-through that it takes something ridiculously opulent and over the top to gain our attention; say an exhaust pipe that emits a roaring flame or a dashboard studded with Swarovski crystals.

The biggest car purchase of my life came about a year after I arrived in the UAE was when I bought a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro in a mesmerising racing green from a Turkish diplomat who was leaving the country. Considering my previous car was a Ford Fiesta with a defunct driver's door this was indeed a momentous occasion.

The dream ended about six months ago after one trip to the garage too many. I sold the Camaro to a Sharjah scrap dealer for the princely sum of Dh2,000 and now drive that most ubiquitous of UAE brands — the Mitsubishi Lancer — rented from one of the many hire agencies in town.

According to figures released earlier this month, luxury car manufacturers are expecting Middle East sales to increase by 20 per cent this year.

The US and Europe may be staring another recession in the face but luxury automotives are still highly sought after in the Middle East. Even expats in humble professions, such as journalism, can get in on the act; even if it is for a limited time only.