Tuesday, June 22, 2010

National pastime

After living in the UAE for nearly a year, we can attest to the fact that Emirati's love cars...

They decorate them for their national holiday.

They're building an amusement park nearby called Ferarri World - which will include, no surprise, the fastest roller coaster in the world.

Last November they built a racetrack to bring Formula One to Abu Dhabi. The fever pitch from the time we arrived last August to the big event in November was exhausting, and guess what, they've already starting advertising for the next one!

I didn't take this picture, but given the right camera I might have. I've never seen so many designer cars on the road at one time as I do while driving around Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

But not even the most stereotypical Emirati can match the dedication to cars of this man--

They call him the Rainbow Sheikh (here in the UAE, "rainbow" does not have the same connotation is it does in the US), and we went to see his private collection, which is housed in a huge, pyramid shaped warehouse about 20 kilometers outside of Abu Dhabi. There are cars of every color of the rainbow, every style from armored tanks and taxis to fully restored Thunderbirds, each one waxed and detailed to perfection and sitting in it's own parking spot under spotlights. There are rows upon rows of cars (I'd estimate 300 or so), ranging from the ordinary pickup truck to the sublime specialty vehicle (silver sequined dune buggy anyone?), and most of them setting some kind of record.

Here's a taste of what we saw--

This jeep greets you at the entrance. Upon closer inspection we found there is a full restaurant housed inside.

Here's a Mercedes with Shannon-sized wheels (literally).

Me again, learning a new meaning for the term "Monster truck"
that's Sheikh Zayed, Founder of the UAE in the background).

Dick Tracy would be proud.

You just can never have too many Hummers.

Yes, we were overwhelmed by this too. In a Bedouin culture which historically valued mobility and courage in battle and now is awash in petro-dollars, it's no wonder that high performance luxury automobiles have come to play such a powerful role in Emirati culture.

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading this. It makes so much sense now that I've been there to experience the Emirates' love of extremes.

    Read about the Red Bull Air Race in NYC and thought about when we saw the ads for the one there right after I left, which I know Sam at least saw, right?