x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The fast arm of the law: meet Dubai Police's supercar drivers

Officers behind the wheels of Dubai Police's Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Mercedes and Aston Martin are greeted like stars at the Arabian Travel Market.

The new Lamborghini Aventador which is used by Dubai Police Department. Ali Haider / EPA
The new Lamborghini Aventador which is used by Dubai Police Department. Ali Haider / EPA

DUBAI: // Some had been waiting for over an hour. Others had just arrived. A little further, a third group kept watch from a prime spot at the outdoor tables of nearby restaurants.

All were waiting for the same moment - the arrival of Dubai's latest superstars.

"They are here," announces a security guard, one ear to his walkie talkie as he urgently moves along other cars trying to pass the roundabout dominated by a statue of a black horse between The Address Hotel and Dubai Mall.

They could be heard before they were seen. With a deafening roar, Dubai's supercops, driving the world's best known supercars, had arrived. It was 6.30 on a Thursday evening and the weekend's entertainment had just begun.

Decked in the immaculate green and white of Dubai Police, the public welcomed the Lamborghini Aventador, with license plate number six and driven by two male cops and a Ferrari FF, license plate number nine, driven by two policewomen.

Within seconds, the two cars were surrounded by people holding up their mobile phones, taking photos and recording videos, while trying to get as close as possible to the cars that had yet to find a parking spot by the roundabout's curb.

"The reception from the public has been amazing and very warm," said Lt. Mariam Al Kaabi, a mother of three and one of the drivers of the Ferrari. "I feel like a star."

Lt Al Kaabi, joined by First Warrant Officer Badriya Al Suwaidi, had been chosen from women police officers after last month's announcement on Twitter Dubai Police Chief, Lt General Dahi Khalfan Tamim that the wheel of the Ferrari would be reserved for women. In another Tweet, the police chief explained that the supercars were not "for chasing, but for acting classy with people."

This week, three more luxury super cars were added to the police fleet. Next to the Lamborghini and Ferrari, public can expect to see a Mercedes SLS, a Bentley Continental GT, and a collectors-item Aston Martin One-77 patrolling the streets and leaving an impression wherever they go.

Dubai police are not the only force with supercars, with police in Italy and Germany using supercars as faster and more powerful patrol cars. But like so much in the city, Dubai's are the biggest and the best.

The Dubai police supercars are on display at the Dubai Police stand at the Arabian Travel Market, which ends tomorrow the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. So far the price of the fleet has reached over Dh12m.

Maj Gen Khamis Mattar, deputy head of Dubai Police, explained that the addition of the cars was part of Dubai Police's desire to keep up with the growth of the city as a tourism and business hub.

But while they may be the world's fastest cars - the Aston Martin's V-12, 750 horse-power engine can push it to over 350 kph, faster than most aircrafts taking off - they all must be driven within the speed limits of the Dubai streets.

"We have never exceeded the speed limit on the highway," said Lt. Al Kaabi, when asked about the temptation to push the pedal to the metal and and experience the true power of her Ferrari.

Tourists and residents would come up and ask permission to shake the super cops' hands, and to take photo with them next to their cars. Many of the tourists who didn't seem to speak any English would gesture to take photos and would do the thumbs up as they said "Dubai! Dubai!"

In the midst of all the admiration and photo taking, a child sneaks into the Ferrari, squealing with glee to the great delight of his father.

"You are superman!" yells the father, while taking photos of his child before the two female officers ushered the child out of the car.

"It is not allowed for anyone to go inside our cars. We are very protective over our Ferrari," said Al Suwaidi, a mother of six. "We really miss the car when we are not driving it. It has become part of us."

Patrolling the tourist areas like Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Beach Residence, the officers can be seen on the roads at sunset until late at night on a daily basis.

All from the Criminal Investigative Department, the current four supercar drivers had special training how to drive the powerful vehicles and careful watch over their expensive charges against overenthusiastic members of public.

"It has really worked in bridging the gap between us and the public," said Lt Khalifa Al Falasi, one of the Lamborghini drivers. "They feel they can approach us and talk to us."

"We have really connected with the public, which was the vision behind bringing the supercars into our fleet," he says. "Before, you would see people tense up, put on their seat belts and look all suspicious and uncomfortable when they see a police car approach. Now, they lean in through their car windows to talk to us and to take photos and even wave at us wherever we drive."

"It is truly an amazing feeling to be driving around in a supercar," he adds.

As well as the fans among the public and with pictures and videos of the cars going viral on the internet, it is the families of the drivers who also cannot wait to take photos with the cars and their partners driving the cars.

"My wife was never into fast cars, but now, after seeing me drive one, she likes them," said First Warrant Officer Ali Youssef, the other Lamborghini driver.

Within minutes of trying to open the doors of their car to continue their patrols, crowds flocked in to take photos of the interiors, with some trying to persuade the officers to let them sit in the driving seat even for a few seconds.

"We can't. It is against regulation. It is still a police car," said Officer Youssef to a group of teenage boys who were pleading for a group photo inside the car.

"It is so cool! The cars are amazing," said Abduallah Ahmed, one of the teenagers, who had come to the same spot at the Dubai Mall three times the past week just to see the cars.

"I can't wait for the other supercars to hit the streets," he added. "I just hope they let us sit in them one day soon."

Until then, the four chosen drivers have become celebrities in their own right, with their photos almost everywhere posing with people from across the world.

"I have no idea where these photos will end up. But whatever the case, everyone is smiling in the pictures," says Lt. Al Falasi. "We leave a positive impression wherever we go, and that is the whole point of it."

rghazal@thenational.ae