Khaiser Pasha may have watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a hospital bed in Canada but his enthusiasm for motorsports - and motoring - remains undimmed.
The smooth operator
Khaiser Pasha may have watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a hospital bed in Canada but his enthusiasm for motorsports - and motoring - remains undimmed. "Unfortunately I was forced to watch the big race on my laptop, as my essential medical leave was very poorly scheduled," recalls the Abu Dhabi-based general manager of car rental company Thrifty in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. "I've been an enthusiastic motorsports fan since childhood, and keenly follow grands prix worldwide. This is the first time I've had the chance to witness the action live, and it was like a nightmare lying on the other side of the world without even television coverage."
"Even though I drive a BMW I'm a huge Ferrari fan when it comes to F1," says Pasha, a Bangalore native who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 12 years after seven years working in Saudi Arabia. "I've always been an ardent Michael Schumacher fan, with Kimi Raikkonen being next in line, so I wasn't very impressed with his 12th place finish in Abu Dhabi. "My friends who attended said the thrill experienced during the race was far more exciting than the results, so I'll have to take their word for it."
While a Ferrari might be out of his reach, his 2008 BMW 730Li, which he bought new for Dh300,000, is proving to be an excellent car for the high mileage he racks up in the course of his job. Unlike many car rental customers who keep an eye on the kilometres to avoid penalties, Pasha travelled 45,000km in his first year in the 7 Series. "I travel an average of 600km a week across the emirates by road extensively through my job, usually with our sales and business development team and I tend to head off around the coasts with the family at weekends too," says the 50-year-old father of three. "As a family, we love the beach, the zoo, shopping and, of course, travelling to spend time with friends."
His family is based in Canada and when they visit, a comfortable car is an essential. "Some of my favourite times are when my wife, daughter and two sons visit from Canada, and we go driving almost every weekend. They visit for two or three weeks during the months of December and March, and two months during the summer and our road trips are an important part of their time here. "Canada has icy road conditions for much of the year, and my family loves the fact they can come from snow directly to the dry roads and warm weather of the UAE - the BMW is very spacious and the family enjoys the drive and the sights," he says.
As his children have grown older, their increased interest in seeing the sights of the UAE has replaced the need for the type of in-car entertainment parents often employ on long car journeys. "We used to have TVs for the kids in the back seat, but I've done away with those," says Pasha. "The Bimmer is a smooth and silent drive - it's a perfect environment for talks and discussions with the family."
And his children are the biggest fans of the BMW, according to Pasha, "My daughter is now 18 so is eager to take the car for a spin, but she doesn't have a valid UAE licence, much to her bemusement." Rather surprisingly, Pasha's favourite road trip is the long stretch between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He explains this is because he can turn on the cruise control and chat with the family without many distractions. However, longer stretches do not hold the same appeal. "When I lived in Saudi Arabia, the roads can be much longer than the UAE, with journeys regularly as long as 400-500km. They can become boring, as there's not much of a view, other than endless desert. The UAE is more developed with more interesting sights, especially when driving through Dubai," Pasha says.
However, it hasn't always been plain sailing for Pasha as he zooms around the UAE. "With the roads in Dubai and Abu Dhabi frequently changing, following the GPS often gets me in the wrong place, which can sometimes be amusing, unless it makes me late for a meeting. "I don't tend to take the BMW onto very tough terrain, as I've found the computerised sensors are sensitive and damage is easily done even by hitting a few stones. It's a small repair that can be done by the dealer, but pretty inconvenient," he says.
"One time on a business trip, I hit a rock, which set the sensors off and the car's computer claimed I needed to check the tyres. We stopped and carried out an inspection on the spot, which can be a sticky job during the summer in a business suit." The Ferrari fan plans to stay loyal to BMWs for the foreseeable future and would love to get behind the wheel of a 2010 7 Series. "I hope I can drive it to next year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!" Pasha says with a laugh.