Dubai is known the world over as a hotbed of supercars and vehicles of the mega rich. Whilst the country officially claims that just 6% of GDP comes from oil revenues, one look at the place seems to suggest otherwise. I guess it’s all in the accounting.
Whatever the case, its still fun to walk around camera in hand, and see what you find. I had a 12 hour stopover in Dubai the other day, so with stories of the legendary abandoned Ferrari Enzo fresh in my mind I decided to head out and see what I could find.
Other than a passing McLaren MP4-12C, there wasn’t a whole lot happening this particular Tuesday morning so I decided to visit a few dealerships I’d spotted from the train. I ended up walking for over 2 hours, which I can tell you isn’t a lot of fun in the Dubai heat.
Used supercar dealers in Dubai look different than ours. Housed in regular buildings in industrial estates alongside other businesses selling taps, sticker vinyl or motorbikes, it was sometimes surprising as a look through an otherwise unassuming window would reveal a Rolls Royce Phantom poking out.
Needing a quick reprise from the heat, I popped into the arcticly air-conditioned BMW showroom to cool down. It was just like every other BMW dealer… except for the golf driving range simulator in the middle of the showroom? Because Dubai.
Dubai is a bit of an odd city for my tastes. It’s lacking the street atmosphere of somewhere like Melbourne or Adelaide, and there’s literally nothing happening outside. Sometimes the area in front of the sky scrapers is just left as plain desert sand, other times it morphs into construction wasteland. It all looks rather bitty. But its so hot during the day that nobody dares venture outdoors.
Dripping with sweat, I decided to head indoors to the Dubai Mall, and headed for the giant Sega Republic indoor theme park. And that’s where I discovered possibly the most awesome thing I’ve seen: it’s the Initial D arcade game, but you sit in actual cars!
However the cars are mounted on hydraulic tables and pivot and rotate as your driving. I wouldn’t call it a completely natural experience, but it’s a damn load of fun! And at only 25 dirhams a go (a touch over AUD$7), it’s cheap enough to have some fun with.
It’s almost a bit of a shame really, because all of these cars are simply owned as status symbols. There’s only mostly straight roads in Dubai so there’s nowhere to properly exercise these cars, so most of the time they sit in car parks or are paraded around.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles