While there has been a growing global groundswell towards big carmakers eschewing the traditional format of motor shows in the past couple of years, the International Motor Show Abu Dhabi is bucking that trend this weekend with even more brands than ever appearing at the event.
The third running of the annual show, which takes over Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until April 7, welcomes first-time exhibitors Borgward, Ford, Lexus Lincoln and Toyota, in addition to returning names including Chevrolet, GMC, Infiniti, Nissan, Renault and Subaru. Chevrolet dealers Bin Hamoodah Auto leads the way for new model unveilings, via Abu Dhabi launches for the all-electric Bolt EV, the 755hp Corvette ZR1, racy SUV the Tahoe RST and the Malibu Sport. The likes of Yas Marina Circuit and the police departments from Abu Dhabi and Dubai will also have stands.
While it is on a slightly more modest scale than, say, the Dubai International Motor Show, the event’s visitor numbers continue to grow. Organisers expect a 15 to 20 per cent improvement on last year’s attendance figure of 29,000 people, which built on the inaugural edition’s total of 24,000.
“We launched in 2016. As any other exhibition, it needs to go through an incubation period for establishing itself,” says Saeed Al Marzouqui, chief executive of IMSAD/Custom Show Emirates organisers Custom Events, Dubai. “To say that we are not affected by the global downturn at all would not be entirely true, but we do our best to be optimistic and set realistic goals.
“Abu Dhabi is the largest new cars market in the UAE and we play our small role in ensuring it stays that way by working together with the car dealerships, the venue, our sponsors and the local authorities. It’s a joint effort and mutual support to each other that helps us overcome the economic challenges and grow the show every year.”
The weekend is a dual-pronged exhibition, with the IMSAD running in parallel with the fourth Custom Show Emirates. As that title suggests, the latter strand of the event brings together the cream of the custom-car world, featuring a wide variety of activities, such as drifting, radio-controlled cars, a bikers’ build-off and a children’s garage, plus live demonstrations of car crafts including airbrushing. There will also be a pavilion in collaboration with Sema, the huge annual car-modification extravaganza in Las Vegas, and another from Italy’s Motor Bike Expo, which will showcase exotic custom bikes from across Europe.
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Al Marzouqui expects there to be a total of between 900 to 1,600 vehicles across the two shows, from showroom-ready new models to highly souped-up one-offs. Where the Dubai motor show has its focus on glitzy launches to showcase the industry’s latest big hitters, however, IMSAD is more customer-focused, with special prices that you won’t find at local dealerships.
“This year, most manufacturers will have exclusive ‘show-only’ deals, so visitors can expect exciting offers and discounts on new vehicles and also get amazing car loan and insurance rates right at the show,” Al Marzouqui says.
The International Motor Show Abu Dhabi and Custom Show Emirates run until Saturday (April 7) at Adnec, Friday 3pm to 10pm, Saturday 10am to 10pm, entry is Dh55. For more information, visit www.adimotorshow.com