With a price tag of ?650,000 (Dh3.5m), it is one weapon you may prefer to keep wrapped in cotton wool. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque rifle, designed as a tribute to the building and its creator, is inlaid with 36 coloured diamonds and engraved with an image of the late founder of the nation. It will go on sale at the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) for the second time when the event opens tomorrow.
Amid the global financial crisis, the gun failed to sell at last year's event, but its maker, VO Gun & Rifle Maker Sweden, hopes prospective buyers will train their sights on the unique weapon during this week's four-day exhibition. Adihex is helping to turn Abu Dhabi into one of the world's leading salerooms for luxury goods. At the launch of the sixth annual exhibition yesterday, VO - whose range of bespoke rifles starts at ?30,000 - said it was setting up a showroom in Abu Dhabi on the strength of the increasing "appreciation and rewards" from its five appearances at the exhibition.
The gunmaker's master gunsmith, Viggo Olsson, said the showroom, run in conjunction with an Emirati business partner, would open ahead of others planned for London and Zurich. The company's marketing director, Jonas Althen, said: "Our typical clients visit Abu Dhabi. The Middle East is very important to us." Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouie, the chairman of the Adihex organising committee, said the main focus of the exhibition was to preserve the UAE's rich heritage.
Both the number of exhibitors and visitors had increased significantly on previous years, he said. Four out of five of those exhibiting last year immediately signed up for 2009. This year's event was oversubscribed by exhibitors. The 2008 attendance of 95,000 is expected to be exceeded, in part because of the first performance outside Europe of the British Household Cavalry's Musical Ride. firstname.lastname@example.org