He asks me how I am getting on. I tell him I'm anxious, I can't make a decision and the whole process is discomforting, to say the least.
Listening to my lament is Saif Abu Oraibi. He nods a few times while his left hand diligently works away at his yellow prayer beads. He finally sits up and says: "This is actually normal. Buying a car takes a lot of thought and I meet a lot of people who don't know what they want when they come here."
I am at the Abu Dhabi institution that is Motor World Showroom, a giant mass of industrial land in Al Shamkha dedicated to the buying and selling of cars. If you are looking for wheels, like I am, then this is the place to go. This giant car yard is split into multiple lanes, with each one flanked by dozens of different cars by various brands.
It is as impressive as it can be overwhelming. In my naivety, I wanted to waltz in, buy a car and leave with minimal fuss. But the sheer number of options has me paralysed.
This trip may have been unsuccessful, but I am still unexpectedly rewarded with some helpful insights and wisdom in the few hours I spend with Motor World’s colourful cast of salesmen and customers.
Make no mistake: while the place may look like a bunch of random shops, it runs smoothly, thanks to a system that has been in place for years. For example, when I meet Saif, he is sitting on a plastic chair on the side of the road. He is not the only one, as every few metres another person is doing the same. I find out that each one of them is looking after their respective patch, with their sales company office behind them. Those who want to sell their car drive down the road and Saif and co make a rapid assessment before deciding on an offer. If they agree, the customer is invited into the office to close the deal.
Saif says he doesn’t need to read the news to know what’s going on. Sitting in the chair seven hours a day, he gets a good gauge of how people are doing, saying he's learnt to be "delicate" with those he meets who've fallen on hard times.
One person who doesn't subscribe to that sensitive school of sales is Mohammed Ibrahim. The Iraqi is positively gregarious as he recounts his 10 years of selling cars in the UAE. "I don't want to generalise, but you see a few things," he says, adding that he spots trends among Abu Dhabi's various cultural communities. "Egyptians like economy cars like Toyota or Nissan. You know, the Point A to point B type. People from Bilad Al Sham [the Levant] are all about the Mercedes, BMWs and Lexuses. I don't know why, maybe they advertise good there.
“And my brothers from the Gulf want the big cars for families and off-roading.”
As we speak, a group of young Jordanian people look at a white 2012 Lexus nearby. I find out they are new arrivals in Abu Dhabi. One of them, Ammar Al Qudah, recently passed his three-month mark. He came to Motor World to help his mate, who landed a few weeks ago, to find a car. "I told him to waste no time and get a car because in Abu Dhabi, you need one," he says. "You can't just spend all the days in taxis, it will drive you nuts.
“Also, I think that once you get a car then psychologically you feel better. You say ‘that’s it. I am fully invested in this new chapter of my life in Abu Dhabi’,” he adds.
No matter where you come from, there are some things that remain the same, such as the importance of good manners. This what Saif Al Deen from Speed Cars tells me as a bit of parting advice. “You will be surprised at how much politeness will help you,” he says. “Some people think they need to be aggressive when they come here. That’s the worst thing you can do. When that happens, I will just close my mind and refuse to help him. If you are considerate, then I will take it personally and will help you in whatever way I can.”
It's advice I will certainly bear in mind when I do take the plunge and finally buy my own wheels.