x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

She wears it well

Every self-respecting fashionista knows that accessories are key to any outfit - Jenna Gunning, 25, has taken this principle with her car.

Jenna Gunning, a corporate development manager based in Abu Dhabi, compares the looks of her Volkswagen Eos convertible to a smooth pebble.
Jenna Gunning, a corporate development manager based in Abu Dhabi, compares the looks of her Volkswagen Eos convertible to a smooth pebble.

Every self-respecting fashionista knows that accessories are key to any outfit - Jenna Gunning, 25, has taken this principle out of the wardrobe and on to the road after treating herself to a Volkswagen Eos. The half-English, half-Australian corporate development manager lives in Abu Dhabi and admits to purchasing some additional items to match her new wheels. "I ended up buying the Nokia 3600 because it was the same shape and colour, and because I needed a new phone of course. I then bought the TV to match," she explains gleefully. "It's all curved and has similar detailing to the VW."

Attracted to the UAE by the glitz and glam, Jenna felt a flashy car was a necessity. "I love it," she beams. "It's so shiny and gorgeous. Its not as straight and bricky at the back like most, it's smooth all the way round, like a pebble." For Jenna, having a convertible was another must-have on her car shopping list and she was drawn to the Eos by its "big fat engine". She considered the Eos a reasonable compromise to the SLK Mercedes, "I didn't want something as cheap as the Peugeot but not as pricey as the Merc." An SLK is the next car she hopes to own.

"An Arab friend of mine warned me about getting a convertible. Apparently women in convertibles warrant a lot of horn-honking. It's very off putting," she explains. "My male friends don't get half the hassle on the road that I do." Dealing with the additional attention as well as the chaotic roads Jenna follows the motto 'if you can't beat em, join em.' "You have to drive like the rest of them; otherwise you will cause an accident."

Renting a Toyota Yaris when she first landed here, Jenna was let loose on the UAE roads in what she describes as a "tin can on wheels. Actually, the AC didn't work so it was more of a greenhouse than a tin can. I still thought of it as a death trap though." Having no confidence in the Yaris to hold its own on the roads, she was desperate to own something with a bit more grunt. "The brakes on the Yaris were just not up to UAE driving. They seem to be fans of the emergency stop out here, whilst driving at full pelt down the motorway. Three seconds to slow down is a lot when you're doing 120kph."

Jenna has found driving over here an experience to say the least, "the things I have come across on the roads here are outrageous. You couldn't make it up. "I remember a while back, listening to the radio and the topic of chat was artificial rain. Driving along with the top down I totally didn't register what was going on. The rain just started and stopped as if by magic. I wasn't sure if I had imagined it or not but I was soaked through, that's for sure."

Having recently witnessed cranes collapse onto Sheikh Zayed Road, Jenna describes the scene. "It was like something out of a science fiction film. It was quite scary; it looked as though some King Kong creature had been tearing through the city." Managing to narrowly escape several road accidents herself, Jenna has seen her fair share of pileups, collisions and scrapes. "The worst accident I saw was when there was a collision between a bus and three cars. I was right in the thick of it. They had to land a helicopter right in front of my car to get this poor guy to a hospital."

Other interesting obstacles have included the camels, although great traffic stoppers are considered the norm to the acclimatised expat: horses taking a morning stroll along Jumeirah Road however, took Jenna by surprise. "It was hilarious, in any other country the horse would have been moved along with no drama. But not here, it was a prized stallion, so it was just allowed to go about its business while we all sat there, late for work."

For Jenna, the journey to work is now far more enjoyable thanks to the Eos and since her move from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the roads have been less littered with cranes, helicopters and the like. Now however she battles the constant grief of the city's parking issues. "I got a massive scratch down the car within a week. I never know what state I'm going to find it in after a night parked on the street, it's a nightmare. You need a covering of bubble wrap to get round this place."

motoring@thenational.ae