Abu Dhabi car buyers and sellers find alternative to Motor World

People wanting to sell their cars – and buyers looking for bargains – are flocking at weekends to Al Shamkha roundabout rather than heading on to the nearby Motor World even though the practice is illegal.

Al Shamkha roundabout turns into a used car sales lot during the weekends where sellers and buyers merge. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // People wanting to sell their cars - and buyers looking for bargains - are flocking at weekends to Al Shamkha roundabout rather than heading on to the nearby Motor World.

The practice is banned by Abu Dhabi Municipality but sellers and buyers claim they can get a better price through a private deal than going through established traders.

Emirati Sulaiman Al Busaeedi said: "I checked with traders there [at Motor World] for my Toyota Land Cruiser, 2009 model. They offered Dh80,000 and then they resell at more than Dh100,000.

"We don't have an open place at Motor World to park and sell our cars and, at the same time, we cannot stop here as it is prohibited by the municipality.

"My friend was fined and his vehicle was also confiscated."

Motor World, which is operated by Aldar, has had problems persuading customers to make the 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi since it opened last year.

Aldar agreed to waive rents for last year for dealers because of the lack of custom and facilities for workers.

At the Shamkha roundabout, activity during the week is at a minimum because people fear being fined but on Fridays and Saturdays the area is a hive of activity.

Many sellers leave their cars there with contact numbers displayed, while others prefer to remain in the vehicle for fear of being fined or having it confiscated.

Mishal Mohammed preferred to sit in his car waiting for a sale.

"You can buy a car here for Dh20,000 - at Motor World, you would pay Dh30,000," he said.

Mr Mohammed said people preferred to risk a fine in favour of selling their car privately at the roundabout for a better price.

Emirati Khalid Saleh Mubarak, who lives in Al Shamkha, was at the roundabout trying to sell his classic 1978 Dodge Monaco, which he imported from Arizona about a year ago.

"The Motor World dealers do not offer true value of our old cars and they reduce the price very badly," he said. "I am asking for Dh25,000 for this because it's a classic car - you would not find such a unique car at this price.

"I bought it when I was studying in the US and loved it but now I want to get another.

"Dealers were not ready to buy this car, saying it was 'very old and useless' and offered scrap rates of between Dh8,000 to Dh15,000. The price they give you is crazy."

Mr Mubarak said on some Fridays there have been more than 200 cars at the roundabout.

The municipality confiscated his car when he left it at the roundabout, but he paid a Dh300 fine and got it back.

Khalid Al Junaibi, who lives in Abu Dhabi, was at Al Shamkha looking to buy a Mercedes saloon, "so I'll be negotiating to reduce the price".

"Here, the owner would ask for Dh19,000 but the traders at Motor World would offer the same car at Dh29,000. Here people don't quote randomly but offer a good price."

Dealers at Motor World deny their prices are too high. Mohammed Ahmed, a salesman from Al Karama Exhibition, said: "They [sellers at the roundabout] are the big problem for us and because of them we lose our business here.

"It's not true that our prices are high - we give the true value to a car as per its model.

"We have had a tough phase due to being in a secluded place - nobody knows about it and it's very far. There is not much work here and rent is very high."

At Smart Way Car Showroom, Mohammed Younis said customer complaints were not valid because the condition of cars at Motor World were far better than those at the roundabout.

"Vehicles here are inspected, serviced and their technical problems are fixed first - then they are sold," he said. "Despite this, we offer them a good price."

Abu Dhabi Municipality did not respond to requests for comment.