Originally from Peshawar in Pakistan, Najhm Faqir , a 37-year-old real estate agent and, more recently, reality television star, is the proud owner of a Lexus IS 300. Having had the car for just more than a year, Faqir has racked up more than 60,000km on the clock, partly as a result of trips around the Emirates and real estate viewings. However, commuting during three weeks filming as a contestant in the second series of Hydra Executives (India versus Pakistan), the reality television show set in Abu Dhabi, has also contributed to the mileage.
The reality show, which will be aired in coming months, is based on the successful US television series, Apprentice. It pits businessmen and women against each other for a US$1million prize (Dh3.7m) and a high-ranking position at the Abu Dhabi real estate developer, Hydra Properties. "The show was a very unusual experience," says Faqir. Without giving too much away about how he performed in the challenge, Faqir describes Sulaiman Al Fahim, the chief executive of Hydra Properties and the Donald Trump equivalent with the power to hire and fire, as "an amiable person [who] acknowledged I have a strong personality.
"I came to Dubai to experience a more glamorous lifestyle and I have not been let down in this respect. Having been here 11 years now, business is good and I now own a number of properties in the UAE. However, my favourite possession has got to be my Lexus," says Faqir. The 3.0L V6 model, which has a nippy 228 horsepower under the bonnet, is positioned as an affordable alternative to other luxury vehicles such as the BMW and Mercedes. However, as Faqir explains, it wasn't just the lower price that tempted him to buy a new model in March last year for Dh139,000.
"The IS 300 was within my budget and maintenance is more affordable. However, the biggest factors for me were the curvy shape, luxurious comfort, and the fact it is less common on the roads here than other luxury cars - it has a novelty factor. "I also love its exterior styling with 17-inch wheels and dual exhaust. Inside, it oozes class and quality, with the smooth leather, wood and metal finishes. There weren't the obvious signs of cost-cutting I have seen in other entry-level luxury cars, such as the Infiniti G-series.
"I particularly like the navigation computer screen, which has a cool touch screen and just looks great. The car is not all about show as it has front-side airbags, parking sensors and powerful front and rear a/c, but I must admit my favourite gimmicks are the keyless entry and the start button," says Faqir. He adds: "At first sight, I knew it was my type of car - stylish, great design, beautiful look and I feel it demands respect. Once I was driving through the Madinat Jumeirah car park and a glamorous blonde European girl approached the window and asked if I was a sheikh. It seems that the car had done its job of exuding style and class. Of course I said no, but I offered her a ride nonetheless."
Though it is obvious Faqir loves his IS 300, any fleeting fame he encounters might be the deciding factor in keeping it. "Perhaps the Lexus has lost its novelty value a little," he says, "with more appearing on the UAE roads over the past year, which does not help make me feel as individual. I'm sure my movie career wouldn't be hampered by my choice of car, but I would consider selling it for a top-of-the-range supercharged Range Rover. These luxurious and beautifully designed cars command a lot of respect and would also complement my style. Besides," he laughs, "I suppose Range Rovers are one of the most popular vehicles with Hollywood A-listers."
Joking aside, Faqir hopes his exposure on the Hydra Executives programme will help him make his dream come true. He says his ambition is to "produce a true-to-life Hollywood movie that focuses on the soft image of my home country of Pakistan and its peace-loving people. "As the show has not yet aired, I am yet to experience any celebrity status as such," he says. But who knows? One day, when he has produced his Hollywood movie, he may be able to afford the Range Rover and still keep his beloved Lexus.