Dubai: If you love cars, a trip to Al Aweer Used Car Complex will get you salivating, as everything is there, from fast, sports beauties to old bangers which can get you from point A to point B.

If you are looking to pep up your engine, garages around the area advertise they can boost it up for you, "chip tune" it and even change the steering column to left hand drive if by chance you have shipped in your favourite car from home.

As I sat in one of the showrooms a man strolled in and asked a couple of questions to Maria, a Russian-speaking sales executive. "Da, da," she said, and then asked something in Russian and, finally, in English: "Full options"? Quick sums were then made on a desk calculator and he seemed happy.

"It's cheaper by $5,000 to $6,000 (about Dh18,000 to Dh22,500) to buy a car here," said Mohammad Ali, branch manager of Ghassan Aboud Cars, which re-exports brand new vehicles to places as far away as Azerbaijan.

"It's still cheaper despite the shipping costs," said Maria. The used car market also has a number of new car showrooms and tourists can be seen peeking inside parked Range Rovers searching for bargains.

200 showrooms

Dubai Municipality opened this huge complex in 2000 for 130 dealers, then last year expanded it for 200 showrooms. Today, every inch of space is taken up by cars which are parked choc-a-block, even on pavements, and trying to get a parking space here is impossible.

The showrooms are licensed, which means you will not be bilked, but better be safe and check out the chassis. Who knows? You may be buying an insurance write-off that was welded together.

"So, how's business?" I ask Ahmad Raza, manager of Reem Automobile. He has been in the business of buying and selling cars since 1989. "It's good but not as good as a couple of years ago," he says.

He started his business in Al Rashidiya and now has branches on Shaikh Zayed Road and in Abu Dhabi.

"We can't even park our cars here," he said, also complaining about the out-of-town location. "When I give directions to my customers two out of five get lost."

Asked whether the classified section in Gulf News, which was lying on his desk, was useful, his face lit up and he just said: "Wonderful".

Asked to give sales figures, he says it is a secret, but then asks: "Why would a middle class, salaried person, buy a used car?" He points to the warranty and other benefits of buying new, such as extended service agreements and sometimes even free insurance and no down payment.

A banking executive notes that when one takes out a loan, the car belongs to the bank and you cannot sell it until the loan is paid off and the bank issues a clearance letter. A personal loan is an option, but the interest charges will shoot up.

Interest for a car loan is around 4.75 per cent to 5.25 per cent, and a personal loan is between 9.4 per cent to 10.45 per cent.

Business in the old and new car markets is growing fast. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the increasing population and the high standards of living has pushed sales figures sky high.

The motor industry employs 14,500 people. Its annual turnover is Dh8.6 billion. There are 365 companies trading in motor vehicles, 2,018 in parts and accessories and 204 offers maintenance alone.

"Last, last price for you, Dh55,000," I overhead a salesman telling a Chinese man. They were bargaining over a gleaming Porsche.