The Dubai International Motor Show returns this week, though you may not recognise it from its previous versions at the World Trade Centre as it has morphed into an outdoor, urban lifestyle festival at the new Dubai Harbour.
Gone are the suits, heels, replica showrooms and the formal sales environment disguised with light shows and in comes an urban street fair that mixes the arts community with fashion, super yachts, outdoor sports, graffiti artists and roller discos.
Somewhere in there are cars that need to be sold but the emphasis of the four-day event, rebranded as No Filter DXB, is on enjoying a cultural festival that celebrates the UAE’s 50th anniversary as a nation. The event starts on Wednesday and runs until Saturday.
Globally, motor shows from Frankfurt to New York were already facing some big questions about market relevance amid a changing audience before Covid-19 stopped the world and, with it, shut down car factories for eight to 12 weeks in 2020. Add to this the well-reported microchip shortage that dwarfs this pandemic disruption for supply, and car sales have been hit hard across the region for more than 18 months.
A sharp rise in sales across the board during the first quarter of this year brought some respite, largely based on the New Year optimism of a recovering economy. But getting hold of stock to satisfy those orders remains the industry’s biggest headache so far this year.
With both the automotive and exhibition industries adapting to massive change, No Filter DXB is tagging its lifestyle festival on to the closing weekend of the Dubai Fitness Challenge and will present a range of sporting activities for visitors, including a floating football pitch by adidas, padel tennis, 3x3 basketball courts, night cycling and skateboarding displays.
“We are evolving from the traditional motor show format and taking No Filter DXB outdoors to be a completely experiential and immersive festival,” said Trixie LohMirmand, executive vice president, events management at Dubai World Trade Centre.
“We have curated experiences in motoring from drifting, bike stunts, buggy thrills to lifestyle street culture, art, fashion, sports, fitness and more to capture and reflect the attractive lifestyle of the UAE. We have used all the space around Dubai Harbour, with 80 per cent of it dedicated to activities audiences can participate in.”
For auto enthusiasts, the show will be the first chance for the public to see the much-anticipated, tough-as-nails Ineos Grenadier 4x4 prototype that’s currently in the region conducting testing before it goes on sale next year.
Meanwhile, the all-new Range Rover will also make its first public appearance following its global reveal in Dubai at the end of October.
Aston Martin will show its luxury SUV competitor, the DBX, while Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Nissan, Infiniti and Mercedes will also have new products on display. Gargash Motors is marking the UAE’s 50th anniversary by unveiling a limited-edition Mercedes-AMG G 63 UAE Golden Jubilee Edition, of which only 50 units will be made.
“As a luxury brand, we are delighted to celebrate the motoring industry with this experiential festival and on a momentous occasion like the UAE’s golden jubilee, are excited to showcase some of the latest models from Mercedes-Benz,” said Ivo A Kapitzki, general manager of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars at Gargash Enterprises.
Among the many non-automotive attractions are a skate park, basketball courts, roller disco and street art, while those looking at alternative ways to get their four-wheeled, fuelled fix can enjoy sand buggy rides, take the passenger’s seat in a drift car for some high-speed skids or watch a supercar parade.
A collection of the world’s most expensive supercars will leave Dubai Harbour at 8.30am and snake their way through JBR, behind JLT and drive back to Dubai Harbour where the cars will remain on display for public viewing.
“For the traditional motor show format of halls filled with the manufacturers’ latest models and concepts, these are very tough times,” automotive analyst David Leggett from GlobalData said after this year’s Munich motor show which returned in September having reinvented itself to focus on sustainability and electric vehicles. “The old days of must-exhibit and must-attend for the vehicle makers, seem to be over.
“However, there remains an appetite for live events and seeing the latest products close-up, so the tough challenge for the organisers of motor show events is to make them attractive propositions. Motor shows have to evolve to stay relevant to have a chance of surviving. The whole package must be compelling enough for people to want to see for themselves and to have a day out that is complementary to just a digital experience.”
The show is open from 5pm to 10pm on Wednesday, 3pm to 10pm on Thursday and from 11am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available online through Platinumlist from Dh60 ($16).
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