Gas-guzzlers, luxury cars back on UAE roads

Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:42am EST
 
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By Martina Fuchs and Martin Dokoupil

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saad Atta haggles with a salesman at a luxury car showroom near Dubai's busy thoroughfare to trade in his five-month-old Toyota for a $100,000 Porsche Cayenne.

"Every couple of months you have to change your car," said Atta, a general manager at a furniture trading company in Dubai.

"I want to buy this one because it's a new design and, of course, I want to impress girls," he said, trying to get rid of his Toyota FJ Cruiser sport utility vehicle (SUV).

The global financial crisis hit the car market hard in Dubai, whose expatriates were once famous for blowing their tax-free pay on luxury cars, designer clothes and large villas.

With multi-billion dollar real estate projects shelved, talk spread that expatriates who had lost jobs and defaulted on loans were abandoning their cars at the airport and flying home.

As Dubai begins to recover, gas-guzzling four-wheel drives once more choke its 12-lane Sheikh Zayed Road. Ferraris and Maseratis again line the entrance to the Mall of Emirates.

"People are buying expensive cars again because they want new options and they want to stand out," said Abdallah Muftah, 26, who owns four luxury cars. "I might buy another one this year," he said, standing outside a showroom.

Home to just five million people, the United Arab Emirates is the world's fourth-largest market for Rolls-Royce. The firm said sales more than doubled in the first nine months.   Continued...

 
<p>A visitor looks at a Rolls Royce Phantom during the Dubai Motor Show December 15, 2009. REUTERS/Mosab Omar</p>