Modified cars gather in the early hours in a Hong Kong backstreet for what participants call a ‘morning drive’, but what police call ‘highly dangerous and selfish’. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: The first inspection centre for modified vehicles in Abu Dhabi was officially launched in a signing ceremony held on Tuesday as authorities look to regulate and ensure that all modified vehicles are safe on public roads.

The new centre, located at Yas Marina Circuit, follows legislation passed last year by the UAE Cabinet with decision No. 45 on the safety requirements for modified vehicles.

The centre will provide official oversight on modified vehicles, something that had previously not existed.

Several parties are also involved, including the Ministry of Interior (MOI), Yas Marina Circuit, Automobile and Touring Club UAE (ACTUAE), and the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA).

“This will be the first vehicle modification inspection centre in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The whole purpose of this project is to inspect any car that has been modified outside of the manufacturing standards, and to make sure that the vehicle is safe to be driven on public roads,” said Al Tarek Al Ameri, chief executive officer, Yas Marina Circuit.

“We hope that this will be a [positive] development for the community; drivers can now modify their cars and can make sure that the modifications are safe,” he added.

Al Ameri explained that the inspections will be for all types of modified vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, and that the vehicles will receive an official certificate stating their roadworthiness after they have been inspected.

“Based on the inspections, the vehicles will be provided with a certificate [stating] that the modification that was done was up to the standards of the UAE’s regulations,” he said.

“The centre will inspect the vehicle and issue the paper work to certify or decline the changes [that have been done to the vehicle]. The inspection results will then go to ESMA and they will issue the certificate. The physical [inspection] process itself will be done at the centre,” he added.

Al Ameri said the centre addresses a pressing need given the increasing popularity of modified vehicles.

“The whole activity of modifying vehicles has been happening for many years, however, there has been no regulation on the type of equipment being installed in the car, and no regulation on the technical work.

“These are machines that have been upgraded to develop more than 1,000 horsepower, and the quality of work is sometimes not the best, so they build in a type of material that is not safe and you can end up with a catastrophe, especially if someone doesn’t know what he is doing. So there is a need to shed light on this activity and to make sure it is up to the code and standard,” he said.

For his part, Mohammad Bin Sulayem, president of ATCUAE, said the inspection centre would put owners of modified vehicles on the right side of the law.

“This centre gives an opportunity for those who are inadvertently breaking the law to become legal. It gives a chance to legalise modified vehicles and ensure compliance across the board,” he said.