ABU DHABI // Scores of luxury cars and sports utility vehicles are gathering dust in the short-term car park at Abu Dhabi airport.
According to the airport's website, vehicles should be left there for no more than three days. And few would choose to with parking costing Dh240 a day.
But many of the cars have clearly been there for months - long enough for tyres to go flat and windows to become caked with sand and salt.
Beneath the grime, the marques are a checklist of luxury - BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, a Chevrolet Camaro S5 and a Jaguar XK8.
Also accumulating dust are sport utility vehicles such as a Toyota Prado, a Ford Escape, a Ford Edge and a Chevrolet Avalanche.
Others include a Kia Optima, Kia Rio, Honda Civic, Honda City, Nissan Altima and Nissan Tiida, Mazda 3, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, and a Peugeot 207.
"I've seen a few cars here that are covered with dust," said MT Hassan, a Sudanese public relations officer. "Maybe some of the owners will return, while others may have already left the country. We really don't know."
Ramesh Menon, 45, a technical officer at an Abu Dhabi government company, suspects the latter.
He visited the airport in mid-July. When he returned this week, the same cars remained parked.
"If there is a genuine owner who has parked there by mistake, he or she will claim it," Mr Menon said. "If it is deliberate, the car should be auctioned off to the public."
The flat tyres are a giveaway, he added. "Abu Dhabi airport has tight security measures. I don't think someone will go to the car park and puncture the tyres."
As on dirty cars everywhere, passers-by have inscribed messages in the dust. Some, including a black Ford Edge Sport and a white Honda Civic, bear the time-honoured "clean me", while the rear windscreen of a blue-green Hyundai Tucson claims its owner has "gone fishing".
A check on some of the number plates through the police website reveals the cars have a number of traffic and Salik fines.
One, a black Jaguar XK8 with Abu Dhabi plates, has accumulated Dh1,350 in fines - two for speeding in Abu Dhabi in June and July, and another for speeding in Dubai in May.
A grey Nissan Altima with Abu Dhabi plates had five Dubai police fines totalling Dh3,100 between December 2010 and April 2011.
A green BMW saloon, also with Abu Dhabi plates, had two Dubai fines from October 2009, and another from April 2010, totalling Dh1,900. A Kia Optima had a Dh100 fine from Oman, while a Kia Rio racked up nine Salik fines, totalling Dh450, between November 2009 and February 2010. Both cars have Dubai plates.
"The authorities should now consider removing them to allow other cars to park in this area meant for short-term parking," Mr Menon said. "These cars are eating up a lot of space and it gives a bad image to the city."
A spokesperson for the Abu Dhabi Airports Company yesterday declined to comment.