x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Car dealers back plan to drive up trade at Abu Dhabi's Motorworld

Aldar, Abu Dhabi's largest property developer, says it will open a bank, insurance company, mosque, a money exchange house, a coffee shop and an Aldar office at Motorworld, in Al Shamkha, behind the city's airport.

Car dealers at Motorworld hope the opening of shops and other public facilities at the complex will boost their businesses. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Car dealers at Motorworld hope the opening of shops and other public facilities at the complex will boost their businesses. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Car dealers at Motorworld who have been unhappy at the lack of business at the complex are delighted to hear that developer Aldar is going to open facilities in June.

Aldar, Abu Dhabi's largest property developer, this week said it will open a bank, insurance company, mosque, a money exchange outlet, a coffee shop and an Aldar office at Motorworld, in Al Shamkha, behind Abu Dhabi's airport.

However, the dealers' delight is tempered with the misgivings they have lived with for a year since moving to the complex, which has suffered from a lack of tenants and customers.

Currently, the dealers need to travel even to buy a bottle of water as there are no shops at the three million square-metre Motorworld, which has parking for 2,700 vehicles.

Aldar has admitted that there is a lack of facilities but aims to bring new services, and with it new tenants and customers, by June.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, the director of planning and infrastructure at Aldar, said: "We currently have 93 trading tenants and 25 tenants fitting out. A full service centre should be open and operational by June 2013.

"It will include a prayer room, for males and females, one insurance company, one bank, Aldar Motorworld office and a money exchange, as well as a coffee shop."

In the meantime, the complex looks deserted, with dealers left hanging until business picks up.

They were forced to move to Motorworld from Airport Road showrooms as part of a plan to consolidate the Abu Dhabi car industry in one place, freeing up city centre parking spaces and relieving congestion. The deadline for the move passed on April 1 last year.

"The much-needed public facilities for the area, of course, will do good for us. It's been a year and we have not seen any such facility," said Rashid Al Maamari, owner of the 501 luxury used car showroom at Motorworld.

"Lately, we receive 25 to 30 customers daily but all of them are not serious buyers. We only get five to 10 serious buyers in a week. Our old customers help us and they do come.

"There is no comparison with the downtown business. There were 40 to 50 buyers in the city's showroom and they used to be interested in buying. Now we are in the middle of the desert, it will take time for the business to pick up.

"It takes 40 minutes to reach here from the city and many customer are not aware of the place. I can't believe this ... that they can move us without facilities."

Mr Al Maamari said Aldar should advertise the complex but it doesn't.

"We spend on our own advertisements, and spend about Dh300,000 yearly for an auto trading weekly magazine," he said.

"We pay Dh400,000 rent for the showroom annually, whereas we used to pay Dh140,000 for four shops on Airport Road."

Aldar said it planned to launch a full marketing campaign when the service centre is operational in June.

Ahmed Ali, dealer of Al Bahia Car Exhibition, said that Motorworld should also include a maintenance workshop and an spare parts shop.

"If we want any auto parts we rush to Mussaffah," he said. "I knew that sooner or later facilities would have to be here. We opened here some seven months back ... but still we don't have buyers, which is a burden on us as we pay rents from January onwards."

Zohrul Islam, another dealer of Al Suyouf Trading Establishment, said: "I heard the news just recently and I'm happy. I bring foodstuff for the entire day from the city as nothing is here."

Mr Islam, who said his company sells just four or five cars a month, said public amenities would help attract customers and suggested a direct road from Abu Dhabi airport would also help as many customers get lost and then just return to the city.

According to The National's Arabic sister paper, Al Ittihad, the Ministry of Interior plans to open a licensing and vehicle inspection department at Motorworld.

Aldar also agreed to waive 2012 rents as a result of Motorworld's tenants complaining about lack of custom.

anwar@thenational.ae