ABU DHABI // Car accessory shops in the city are enjoying brisk business as motorists rush to dress up their vehicles ahead of the 43rd National Day.
Customers were willing to pay up to Dh3,000 to cover their cars with images of the nation’s Rulers, the red, green, white and black colours of the national flag, the number 43, the Spirit of the Union logo and the like.
“We make sure to decorate our cars every year to show our love for our country,” said Khalfan Saeed Al Hameli, 40, an Emirati government official.
At the weekend he and his wife visited Abu Dhabi Auto Upholstery and Accessories shop in Al Nahyan Camp area.
Mr Al Hameli picked the Spirit of the Union poster to cover the bonnet, with portraits of Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on the rear windscreen of his luxury SUV.
“Emiratis spend hundreds to thousands of dirhams each year to mark this occasion, but it’s really nothing compared to what the UAE has done for us,” he said.
Saif Mohammed, 39, an Iranian who supervises a team of nine staff, said customers began visiting his shop from as early as November 23 to deck out their cars. He has been getting about five customers a day during the week and double that at weekends.
While Emiratis make up the majority of his customers, Egyptian and Lebanese motorists have also visited his shop to have their vehicles decorated.
“It takes about two to three hours to decorate an entire SUV and about 90 minutes to two hours for saloon cars,” Mr Mohammed said.
The decals range in price from as little as Dh20 for a small panel to Dh900 for full-body coverage of an SUV and Dh600 for a saloon car.
Additional stickers, pompoms of national colours fastened to door handles, giant teddy bears and accessories could set customers back an additional Dh2,000.
“They love the UAE,” Mr Mohammed said. “The sheikhs are all very nice, not only to Emiratis but to us expatriates living here in this safe and prosperous country.”
Emirati Mahra Al Nuaimi, 10, and her brother Mubarak, 9, agreed. “I love the UAE because it gives me everything I want,” she said.
Their mother, Umm Mubarak, 35, chose a Spirit of the Union logo for their car’s bonnet and both sides of the car doors, pompoms on the door handles, and the number 43 sticker.
“We as a family want to express our national pride and our gratitude by decorating our car,” she said.
Traffic police have urged motorists not to go overboard when decorating their cars and to ensure the vehicles are still safe to use on the roads.
The Traffic and Patrols Directorate has issued guidelines for car decorations, which run from November 22 until December 6.
Overenthusiastic transformations for National Day will carry a Dh2,000 fine, 12 black points on the driving licence and result in the car being impounded.
It is forbidden to change a vehicle’s colour, cover the windscreen or the driver’s side window, obscure the licence plates, add noisy accessories or speed booster.
Drivers are not permitted to stop on the side of the road, main streets, bus stops and taxi stands and obstruct traffic. They should also not stop in the middle of the road nor spray paint on others. Passengers cannot stick any body part out of the vehicle’s windows or sunroof.
It is forbidden for motorists to hold any other parades except for the official parade, and they are not allowed to use camels or horses on public roads or at the official parade.