x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

When it rains sand, UAE's car washers gear up to clean up

Motorists bring their dirty vehicles for cleaning after weekend of sandstorms and rain.

Motorists in Dubai queue up to wash their cars at the Enoc Petrol Station by the Greens following rains and sandstorms. Razan Alzayani / The National
Motorists in Dubai queue up to wash their cars at the Enoc Petrol Station by the Greens following rains and sandstorms. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI // Car-wash companies are cleaning up after the sandstorms that swept much of the country over the weekend.

Queues snaked out of petrol stations at lunchtime today as scores of people took their dust-covered cars for a much-needed wash.

A service representative in an Eppco station near Media City said about 80 customers were expected in the first eight-hour shift of the day. Normally there would be about 60.

"Today, everyone is bringing their car," he said. "It's taking time to clean each one because they're so dirty."

Hani Barmada, from Syria, said his clean Ford Explorer had become filthy in the course of an afternoon.

"I parked it outside work and it rained," he said. "When I came out it was so dirty."

David Milgate, who moved to Dubai from the UK six months ago, said the number of recent dust storms meant visits to the car wash were more frequent.

"I've never had to wash my car so much before," Mr Milgate said. "Even on a normal week it gets sandy within a few days."

In mall car parks, many valets were also doing a roaring trade today.

"During the sandstorm normally people don't clean their cars, only after it finishes," said Abdullah Al Shehi, general manager of Q2 General Cleaning Services, which has 25 outlets in Dubai mall car parks.

"We always see a noticeable increase after a sandstorm, and also after a rain."

Mr Al Shehi said that was about a 50 per cent increase in washes.

Asif Mohammed, supervisor at Zabeel Car Clean, which has several outlets in malls in Dubai, said each valet cleaned about 20 cars a day after a storm, compared with about 10 a day normally.

"Whenever there's a storm there's a lot more customers," Mr Mohammed said.

"People were waiting for the storm to stop."

Select Nano, a luxury "car spa" that can cost up to Dh7,000 for a four-day car clean, said its customers were less affected by the sandstorm.

The company uses nanotechnology to fill in the microscopic dents in a car's chassis, making it less likely for sand and water to cling to the car.

"They wouldn't be affected as much, because of the protection that's on the surface of the paint," said Frederik Faidhi, business developer at the company.

"Nanotechnology has surpassed other technologies.

"It uses particles that repel anything that tries to adhere to the paint.

"If it rains in Dubai, you will have the only car that won't need to use its wipers again.

"You don't have to use them. I've had phone calls from people over the last few days saying that they now believe me."

But Kuldeep Kumar, owner of car-detailing company Wash Me Auto Spa, said that after a dust storm, people normally went for a quick fix.

"A full car detailing takes a whole day," Mr Kumar said. "Normally people go for a cheaper, quicker wash."