"I have loved cars since I was just a small child. One of my earliest memories is of walking past a beautiful car in Lebanon and being captivated by it. "I started crying to my mother because I wanted to sit in it so badly. I suppose the fascination with beautiful cars began then; it's continued to this day. When I was growing up, I told myself that one day, when I was successful, I would make my dream of having beautiful cars come true."
So says Baré Ghazal, who was driven by a desire to make something of himself when he moved to Dubai in 1990, seeking opportunities and new life experiences. "I came here to work in someone else's hair salon, that was my first job here. But I wanted to be my own boss and, so, in 1997 I opened my first venture, a salon. Unfortunately, as can happen, I had problems with my partner, so in 1999 I decided to open the first Baré Gents Salon by myself, in Mazaya Centre."
The men of Dubai clearly love a good grooming session as much as they appreciate fast cars, and business boomed. Baré opened several more salons and, as befits a successful young entrepreneur, rewarded himself in style by buying a top-of-the-range Harley-Davidson. "I can tell you, it is the best looking motorbike in the UAE," he says with a delighted smile. "I paid Dh79,500 for that in 2001, but then I went on to spend an additional Dh100,000 upgrading it." The upgrades included Dunlop 150 tyres, a coat of colour ("the most expensive colour in the world") and chrome fittings. Understandably, Baré isn't too keen on parking his pride and joy outdoors. "I got a scratch on it once, a tiny scratch. It cost me Dh7,000 to fix that."
In 1996, he bought a classic 1969 Mini Moke for Dh82,000 after the owner, who had inherited it from his father, returned to the UK. "It was too expensive for him to take it with him, and the steering wheel was on the wrong side for the UK. Baré says he got a great deal but that the much-loved car can be a troublesome beast. "It is almost impossible to get parts. They have to be shipped in from America or South Africa, which can be very expensive. It has no doors, no windows, and stops traffic wherever I go." Baré allows himself the pleasure of driving it only occasionally, preferring the warm glow of ownership to the frustration of breaking down in the searing heat.
Harley-Davidsons and classic cars are all well and good, but with seven branches of a busy business to tend to, Baré needed something more comfortable and practical, so he got a top of the line Range Rover - and a brand new Infiniti FX50S. Surely there is only so much leather-clad interior comfort one man can take? Ghazal shrugs. "Some people have other hobbies, they like to get up to mischief. Cars are my guilty pleasure." His white Range Rover Supercharged takes him to and from work, and, as with his other 'babies', he's had it customised to suit his tastes. "I got it brand new in 2007 for Dh388,000. It's white, with white interior. One month later, I went back to the showroom and bought a red Ferrari. I think I was their best customer for a while."
The Ferrari F430 set him back around Dh820,000 and is liveried in black and red inside. He uses it as an evening car, when arriving in style is of paramount importance. "That Ferrari was my dream car for so many years. I can say that I have made my dream come true - and after all, who if they can afford it will say no to a beautiful car?" Clearly not Baré. With evenings and work commutes all sensibly covered, there was a conspicuous gap in his motorcade for a vehicle he could just have fun and mess about in. "That's my Alfa Romeo GTV. I love that car. It's a manual car, which you see less and less of here, but it's perfect for just driving in, going a bit crazy.
"One of the reasons I bought it was because I like the shape of the car. That shows how crazy I am about cars. I took it for a service and changed so many things: the wheel, the tyres, the sunroof, the stereo. So many things. I spent a lot on that car to make it look really nice." With a fleet of seven of his own vehicles (five of his cars, his wife's car and, of course, the Harley) to find parking for each night, Baré has had to resort to paying for parking in the buildings where his salons are located. "I keep three cars in my home in The Springs, but I don't like to park them outside. It's important to me to look after my cars and treat them well, even if I have to pay extra to do that."