3. Cars

The UAE is bigger than you realise.  No matter where you move to whether it is Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain or somewhere else you are generally better off with a set of wheels.  You can’t put a price on personal freedom and a motor gives you that independence that you would notably miss otherwise.  Sure there are plenty of taxis and buses, and even a Metro for those Dubai-ists, but these involve a lot of waiting, crowds and curious odours.   It’s not really how you want to be spending your precious time.

There are 3 possibilities: you are given a company car, you opt to rent one or you buy your very own.  If you are given a company car then you need to read no further, you’re sorted with no headache.

I work for a company that technically doesn’t provide me with a car of my own, but I am fortunate enough to have access to a few: a 4.7 litre V8 leviathan Toyota Tundra, a six-wheeled Chevrolet Silverado which is even bigger, a 20 year old Jeep Wrangler and a 2008 Volkswagon Golf GTi…quite the selection.  People see me in these cars and think that I must be loaded, but the truth of the matter is there is no way I could afford to run any of these out of my own pocket.  Plus there are no guarantees that they will be available all of the time.  So is it better to rent or to buy?  A recent debacle has provided me with the answer.

The other day my girlfriend and I went car hunting.  We had decided that we would pool our resources and buy a “cheap motor” that could get us (mainly her) around.  We figured 10,000 dirham (just under £2000) would be more than enough to get something half decent.  The first port of call was the internet.  In any other country the Auto-Trader is full to over-flowing with ideal cars, and we thought we would find something here with relative ease.  In Al Ain – and I’m not making this up – we found 3.  There was an Opel Omega, a suspiciously cheap Jeep Cherokee and an Ox and Cart.

After deciding to visit a main dealer to seek answers we were advised that Dubai would be the place to go.  There we were told we would find something with relative ease.  The next day we headed north to Dubai to a place we had read about online, a car market called “Al Aweer”.  I envisaged it being a single dealership run by a man who wore red braces and beige slacks.  After circling Dubai and getting lost a million times we eventually arrived to find that it was indeed a collection of over 50 small showrooms, each very similar to the next.

The first place we picked had a dozen or so small hatchbacks on the forecourt, it looked suitable.  I explained to the salesman that we had a budget and did he have anything within the parameters.  He grinned as if he thought he was on candid camera.  “No Sir” he said.  “Here you will not find anything less than 20,000 dirham”.  Our hearts sank.  Nevertheless we decided to have a stroll around just to see if the bargain of a lifetime lay in wait.

Eventually we did stumble across a 1994 BMW 318.  It was caked in sand, was missing both front wheels and had a smashed in front wing and broken headlamp.  I figured that if I asked how much this old beauty was then the answer would confirm whether we were wasting our time or not.  14,000 dirham he wanted.  Jog on.

After a short discussion having weighed up the pro’s and cons we decided that rental must be the way to go.  We figured that around 1,500 dirham a month wasn’t too bad.  After all this came with full insurance, roadside assistance and a replacement car if anything were to go wrong.  Weighed up against getting your own and having no such guarantees with reference to its reliability alone it was a no-brainer.


The model was an optional extra that we opted against

So, my girlfriend is now the proud semi-owner of a gold coloured Hyundai Accent…beats the Ox and Cart hands down.

Next: If you do own a car, what’s involved?  (Don’t miss that one, trust me!)


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