x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Harley hogs on the up in the UAE

Harley-Davidson had a record-breaking year in 2012 with a 10 per cent increase in business, helped by a growing community of easy riders in the UAE.

The Harley Davidson showroom off Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The motorcycle maker had a record-breaking year in 2012. Sarah Dea / The National
The Harley Davidson showroom off Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The motorcycle maker had a record-breaking year in 2012. Sarah Dea / The National

The wild hogs of the Emirates are driving up demand for Harley-Davidsons.

The motorcycle manufacturer had a record-breaking year in 2012 with a 10 per cent increase in business across the board.

"It wasn't just on bike sales," said Steve Beattie, the general manager for Harley-Davidson in the UAE.

"The thing that Harley offers is not just about the product. Almost everything you wear and everything you own becomes Harley-Davidson. We have everything from foosball tables to glasses, all the way through to clothes, boots, jackets, everything."

He expects 2013 to be another record-breaking year, with a rise in bike sales of up to 35 per cent, partly thanks to an increase in new riders, like those in the Hollywood film Wild Hogs. A "starter" Harley, the Sportster, costs Dh36,900 (US$10,000).

"The biking community has grown quite a bit in the UAE," said Mario Dias, a spokesman for the Bikers Café in Jumeirah.

"We have a number of bike groups who come down to Bikers Café including the Harley-Davidsons, and I'm sure we are to see even more in the future. People in the UAE are finally starting to acknowledge there are bikers out here, and would love to be a part of it."

Harley-Davidson is in the midst of a major expansion in the Emirates, with the opening of a large showroom in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, last October, and plans for several more, including one in Fujairah this summer.

At more than 2,770 square metres, the Abu Dhabi branch has a facility for riders to store their bikes. And like the upcoming branch in Fujairah, it will also have a hangout for riders.

"Fujairah is one of the emirates which is probably going to rapidly expand and develop. There are a number of new refineries being built out there," said Mr Beattie.

"For us it's not so much a retail bike sales facility, it's more of a destination. Part of the concept is we're going to have a sizeable cafe where the guys can ride there. We will have seating for 60 people in the cafe."

Mr Beattie is also currently searching for a second location in Dubai as the Sheikh Zayed Road branch is operating at capacity. The brand, which is distributed by the Al Masaood Group, also aims to open in Al Ain or one of the other northern emirates next year.

"If we sell the bikes now they will come back for servicing in six months or 12 months' time, so we expect that growth to impact on next year too," said Mr Beattie.

"It's all on the up."

 

gduncan@thenational.ae