Abu Dhabi: Jamal Younes had been running a pre-owned car showroom for eight years on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi before moving his business to Motorworld in June of this year.
Situated in Shamkhah nearly 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, Motorworld is an automotive development by Aldar Properties that aims to bring pre-owned car dealers from across Abu Dhabi under one roof.
However, while the one-stop shop destination for the sale and purchase of cars is not fully developed, it has left business owners struggling for buyers in a place that is unpopular and outside of the city.
“The project still needs another two years for it to be profitable,” Younes said. “Before we were in the heart of the city, where it was crowded…. Now there isn’t anyone,” he said. “An hour or two would go by and no one would pass by.”
Pre-owned car dealers like Younes were driven out of city and to Motorworld not only to help create a strong cluster for the second-hand car industry in Abu Dhabi, but to solve problems that the industry was creating in residential areas such as major parking issues.
Not only is it a burden for those residential areas, but it has also deprived the community from having the right facilities in place, explained Talal Al Dhiyebi, Director of Planning and Infrastructure at Aldar Properties.
Today there is a total of 119 showrooms at Motorworld: 10 large-sized, 9 medium-sized and 98 small, said Al Dhiyebi said.
The project, which is supposed to be coming out in phases between now and 2016, has the showrooms of the first phase ready with over 70 units already open.
“The remaining are at various fit-out stages,” he said.
Coming up online will be a food and beverage outlet, and a customer service center, which would have three local bank branches, two insurance offices, a few kiosks and ATM machines, an outlet for the payment of fines and tickets, public facilities such as prayer rooms, a waiting area and a café, Dhiyebi informed Gulf News.
Dhiyebi said that the customer service center is supposed to be ready in the next couple of months, towards the end of September, or early October.
But while these significant elements of the car business are yet to be part of Motorworld, in the meantime business owners are worried about making enough money especially when the move has increased their expenses.
“When purchasers come to check a car, there is no place on site to inspect or check it, there is no insurance or banking unit to finalize the selling and purchasing transactions and the most important is that there is no traffic department here to facilitate the procedures,” said Khaled Awad Al Saadi, owner of Al Nilain showroom.
Dhiyebi said that the construction of car registration centre, a small mechanic stop and an integrated petrol station is yet to start and which are scheduled to open by 2013.
But at the end of the day, these businesses have no choice but to part of Motorworld if they want to stay in this used car industry.
Currently, no new licenses are being issued by the Department of Economic Development to used-car dealers unless they have a Motorworld lease, Dhiyebi said. Business owners are calling for more publicity and improved directional signs to the site from Abu Dhabi to the project in hopes of improving their business.
Dhiyebi said: “We’re expecting the next phase of the marketing campaign to be much more successful and once there’s activity there’s at all of those facilities people will start to have confidence,” he said. “Once all the showrooms are trading and running that will be the first catalyst to help the area,” he said. “I would expect the momentum to build up.”
It seems that for Abu Dhabi residents who regularly buy and sell used cars, Sharjah and Dubai are still the places to visit.
“I change my car every four or five months,” said Malek Abdullah, an Abu Dhabi resident.
“Most of the time, I go to Sharjah or Umm Al Quwain; they really have the best and the cheapest cars there.”
Ahmad Nasr, also an Abu Dhabi resident, recently bought a used car in Sharjah after making four trips before he finally made up his mind.
Ahmad Rai, another Abu Dhabi resident, who has an interest in cars for offroading, said he currently uses online websites to check out what’s on the market or sometimes drops for an auction in Dubai.
“I’m usually looking for a car that is owned by someone in town so it’s easier for me to check out and then possibly register,” Rai said. “It’s also easier if the car is loan free,” he said.
Abdullah said: “Everyone knows that if you want to buy a good car, you go to Sharjah,” he said.