Dubai: Motoring – there’s something instinctive about the passion anything automotive has with the typical UAE consumer. Even those among the new-gen, who prefer to fawn over electric than fuel-powered vehicles in their choice picks.
The fact remains that something about the UAE’s highways, city grids and off-city expanses that get people to buckle up and hit the accelerator. Family-owned businesses have grown around auto dealerships; pre-owned keeps spawning new fortunes, including those in digital buy-and-sell of cars.
Then, there are the out-and-out collectors of the fine art of automotive. Someone like Mana Al Suwaidi, who is a serial entrepreneur and Chairman of UAE Concours d’Elegance. In his latest venture, he is not into selling vehicles, but automotive art. Stripped down auto parts/equipment that double as art collections.
Automotive art – is there enough demand to make it into a business?
The UAE market has seen tremendous increase in interest in classic cars, and this is reflected in the wide audience for the Concours d’Elegance platform. Collectors and automotive enthusiasts are investing in classics as appreciating assets and sources of value, in addition to fulfilling one’s passion. These classics - as well today’s supercars - showcase not only value, but also spark appreciation for design and craftsmanship, and this is all art. That’s why automotive art is in the spotlight.
It is said that something beautiful needs art to be unique, so our mission is to convert rare recovered automotive parts into decorative art. Something that every passionate collector would want as a centre piece in his or her garage, office and even the living room.
Given that automotive art already such a firmly established business in the West, won’t you have difficultly sourcing the collections?
The Middle East and specially the UAE has always been a big market for bespoke art and collectibles. Many collectors are already active in auctions and sometimes even commission their own one-offs. Our goal in providing access to automotive art on our platform is to offer comfort and convenience, without the attendant shipping hassles, logistical delays, and risks of damage.
Will you only be sourcing locally or regionally?
It is indeed a craft that is well developed in the West, due to factors like access to recovered automotive parts, advanced machinery and skillsets. Nevertheless, in the UAE the whole automobile ecosystem is thriving. In fact, demand for high-end collectibles in general has been rising dramatically since the advent of the Covid pandemic.
Luxury watches have seen a 60 per cent growth. Luxury homes have witnessed a 20 per cent growth in value. In our venture, in addition to satisfying the passion of collectors, we aim to inspire artists and curators in the next two years and leave no stone unturned to support local automotive art creation.
Will all the sales be through auctions?
The UAE Concours has a ready business model with a dedicated section for automotive art to cater to a niche market of collectors and automotive enthusiasts. We are looking for a suitable location in Dubai to offer auctions and retail online commerce.
Would I be right in saying your venture is more passion than business?
Having worked with many entrepreneurs in the region, I believe passion is the fuel for business. Passion-driven businesses lead to creation of innovative solutions and to meeting an unfulfilled need.
In the pandemic era, we have seen how investment in value growth assets yields high returns. In all my years of following investments trends, I have realised that value driven deals bring extremely rewarding results to every part of the supply chain.
As artists are passionate and inspiration-driven, their art can be a magnet for collectors. What the collector will get is a thing of beauty and rare value.
Your project talks about artists designing your collections - are you selling new merchandise or antiques?
All automotive art pieces are created from recovered parts of classic cars and tell a story of a historical moment in racing or celebration of a new car design. Such as a Manifold table from a Ferrari 348, a desk set from the Porsche 356, or a lamp bearing a tappet recovered and intentionally left in its original condition from a 25-year-old Lamborghini or Maserati.
Beside these, our designers are also creating brand new and shiny automotive parts to cater to all tastes.
Do you make your merchandise from auto parts only?
That’s the main line for our artists, but we have seen interest in frames and wall clocks. We are discussing collaboration with artists from Miami, London, Paris, Rome and Singapore. The outcomes will be diversified, although the DNA is sequenced for automotive.