How did your passion for cars begin?
I used to work at Philip Morris International for about 15 years and while there, I was introduced to the world of motorsport. I was fortunate enough to experience many Grands Prix, which got me interested in fast cars and because of that, I particularly like sportscars.
But my first car was hardly sporty. It was a Mazda 626 that I bought way back in 1975. As soon as I got it, I took it for a drive all the way to Abu Dhabi. Back then, we didn’t have the fabulous, smooth roads we have now — it was a single carriageway with many potholes. It made the drive, shall we say, interesting! My next car was far sportier. It was a BMW 320i. Out of all the cars my group of friends had, this one was the quickest of the lot.
You have driven at the Masaryk track, better known as the Brno circuit, in the Czech Republic. How did that opportunity come about and what was it like?
I was invited by a business friend to join him there. I had earlier driven a Formula 2000 car at Brands Hatch in the UK, and then at Brno. Both were truly fabulous driving experiences. At Brno, we mostly drove the SLS. When you get on the track, it takes almost a day to get used to stopping braking so early. Once you are out of this habit, you are able to take the corners at a much faster speed. The three days of track driving was a memorable experience.
It must be an honour to be the first person in Dubai to own the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 500? It’s an automotive icon after all…
I must thank Gargash Enterprises for delivering the first SL 500 to me. It really was a privilege and an honour. I had pre-booked the new model more than six months ago and opted for a white exterior and a red interior. But when the first one arrived last month, they gave me the option to buy it. The only difference was the interior — it was Nut Brown instead of the shade of red that I wanted. I was originally after the SLS, but then I thought it would not be an everyday kind of car.
It’s stunning. How does it make you feel?
Great! It has a lot of power, a splendid ride and is very comfortable. The suspension is so good it doesn’t feel like you are driving on the road, it’s more like you are floating along! It makes driving a really pleasurable experience. It is ideal for long-distance drives. It’s easy to drive to Abu Dhabi for a meeting and then back again to Dubai without feeling tired in this.
You also own a Carrera 4S and X6 but the SL is a suave and sophisticated machine — is it your favourite?
Yes, because it is my new toy and it’s just a beauty to drive. Since it is a cabriolet, I can’t wait until the summer is over so I can drive with the roof down. Mercedes has put a lot of work into this beautiful masterpiece.
Is it reserved for special occasions only?
Nope. I have had it for a month and I have driven it almost every day. I feel like a child with a brand new toy! It is not as fast as the Porsche but it wouldn’t be fair to compare them as the Merc is built totally differently from the 4S. That’s an all-wheel-drive car compared to the rear-wheel-drive SL. But the Merc is no slouch. Its acceleration is almost as good as the Porsche’s.
I have had the Porsche for more than three years and I still find it very exciting to drive. I was thinking of buying a Ferrari but most of my local friends, who all own Porsches, suggested I get one and join the club. So, I did! I tag along with the UAE Porsche Club for drives on the weekends and it’s always lots of fun.
To the X6 — why did you feel the need for an SUV? Is it the daily driver?
I have two two-seaters and needed an SUV for work. I had a Range Rover Sport Supercharged for four years and was very happy with it, but then I felt like a change. Hence, the BMW X6.
Tell us about your Friday breakfast drive club. How many of you are there in this group?
We are eight members and it is a private group, formed almost two years ago. We mostly drive on the Kalba Highway, which is not very busy on Friday mornings. We set off early in the morning to get to Kalba before 9am, have breakfast there and then head back to Dubai by the evening. The group includes some nice cars such as an Audi R8, Volkswagen Golf GTI and R32, BMW Z4, Dodge Challenger, Corvette Z06 and Bentley Continental Flying Spur.
The main rule of the drive is that there is no overtaking and being the eldest of the group, I take responsibility for all safety matters. So far we have maintained a 100 per cent safety record. There is a 30km stretch of incredible mountain roads before entering the Kalba Tunnel. The twisties make it the most pleasurable part of our drive — my Porsche and the R8 handle the winding roads the best, what with them both being all-wheel drive. We are planning our next outing over Eid.
Sounds like fun. Isn’t the new Range Rover next on your want list?
Yes, I am told that the new Vogue should be here by October or November this year, although this has not been officially announced yet. But I am looking forward to owning another Rangey.
Finally, what is your dream car?
It’s the Aston Martin Vanquish V12. I believe this is the most beautifully crafted machine. It has everything — a fabulous engine, amazing power and a gorgeous interior and exterior. I cannot wait until I get my hands on one.