x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai Roadster: UAE’s first supercar set to hit the roads in 2015

The Dubai Roadster is the brainchild of Rashid Al Shaali and two other people who together came up with the idea three years ago - it is set to enter production in a few months, with the first units due to go on sale at next year's Dubai Motorshow.

An illustration of the Dh400,000 Dubai Roadster that Rashid Al Shaali and his team are developing. Courtesy Rashid Al Shaali Courtesy Rashid Al Shaali
An illustration of the Dh400,000 Dubai Roadster that Rashid Al Shaali and his team are developing. Courtesy Rashid Al Shaali Courtesy Rashid Al Shaali

DUBAI // An Emirati racing car driver has helped to design the country’s first supercar, which will go into production in a matter of months.

Rashid Al Shaali, who has competed at several events at Yas Marina Circuit, was one of three people who came up with the idea of the Dubai Roadster three years ago.

Now the car is ready to enter production, with the first units expected to go on sale at the Dubai Motorshow next year.

There will probably be only 25 cars built initially, each with a retail cost of about Dh400,000.

Mr Al Shaali, a branding expert for the Dubai government, said the exclusivity of the Roadster would ensure its popularity, at least locally.

“People in this market tend to want something that’s a little special,” he said. “That’s why people spend hundreds of thousands on normal cars, just to make them look a little different.

“The uniqueness of this car and the fact it’s only available in limited numbers will make it popular here.”

Mr Al Shaali used to race a KTM X-Bow, first as a hobby and then semi-professionally at events in the capital.

The idea of launching a supercar was born out of his love of tinkering with his vehicle to get an edge.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” he said. “The idea came when I started upgrading my own car and, trying to get the most out of it, I changed some of the design aspects and aerodynamics.

“Then a group of friends got together and said, let’s start from the beginning, from the inside out. Over a coffee we decided to start building our own car. It’s as simple as that.”

Three years and hundreds of hours of brainstorming later and the car is expected to go into production at a workshop in Dubai in a matter of months.

Among those included in the project is Mostafa Al Dah, a professor in road safety at Loughborough University, UK, who will oversee the engineering aspect of the car.

The production costs for the project are Dh3 to Dh4 million, relatively low to launch a new car from scratch.

The car will have a tubular chassis with a mix of fibreglass and carbon-fibre panels. It will have a 400 horsepower engine and will be capable of accelerating from 0-100kph in 3.5 seconds.

It will undergo full crash testing and will hopefully gain a Euro 5 certification – meaning it will be automatically road legal in the Emirates.

Although it will have track power to rival the KTM X-Bow or BAC Mono, it will be a road car too, Mr Al Shaali said.

Mr Al Shaali was keen to distance himself from the Devel-16, a prototype Emirati supercar showcased at this year’s motor show.

The car caused a great deal of controversy internationally when its makers claimed it had a 5,000 horsepower engine, far exceeding the fastest cars on the market, such as the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which has only 1,200bhp.

Mr Al Shaali said the claims stretched credibility, which had a negative impact.

“Even the big manufacturers can’t push their cars to that limit and then suddenly a small company like that comes up and says they can do a better job than any of these players,” he said.

“It had a very negative impact.”

He said he wanted to stick to conservative specifications because of the implications of failure. Launching the very first Emirati supercar was something of a double-edged sword, he said.

“We don’t want the Dubai name or the Emirati name linked to a project that hasn’t actually worked out,” he said. “So we’re being very careful and taking our time.”

Mr Al Shaali owns several supercars, and although there was a time when he used to drive his KTM X-Bow to the office every day, now he sticks with a Mercedes C63 coupe.

He said he didn’t feel a temptation much to open up with a fast car on the roads. “I go to the track almost every weekend, so I get it out of my system.

“When it comes to the roads, I don’t want to sound like an old guy, but I stick to the speed limits.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae