DUBAI // Emiratis are proud of their cars all year round, but on one special day their wheels have to be in mint condition.
Three Emiratis have made sure that will be the case by covering a Range Rover with coins – a small fortune to show how fortunate they feel about belonging to this country – for the 42nd UAE National Day.
And to introduce a touch of heritage, Ali Al Showaihi, his brother Ahmed Al Showaihi and business partner Khalil Al Qassab are also covering a classic Land Rover with dried palm leaves in the colours of the UAE flag.
The Range Rover, with more than 60,000 coins from 15 countries including the six GCC nations, the US and Britain, was on display at this month’s Dubai Grand Parade.
But now the interior of the 4x4 will also be completely covered.
“Now, we will paste them on the door, dashboard and other parts of the car inside,” said Ali, 31.
He has approached Guinness World Records to recognise his car as being covered with the largest number of coins and is expecting an answer within two months.
This is not the first time Ali and his compatriots have used coins to decorate a car.
In 2011, they covered a Mercedes G55 with UAE coins, which cost them US$220,000 (Dh808,000).
Last year, they covered another Range Rover with coins from GCC countries. They collected 100-fils coins from Bahrain, 50-halala coins from Saudi Arabia, 50-dirham pieces from Qatar and 50-baisa coins from Oman.
From the UAE, they bought commemorative Dh100 coins, which carry a picture of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, and commemorative Dh50 coins.
“I wanted about 38,000 pieces of 25 fil coins. I went to the bank every week and got 2,000 pieces. We had used these to design the UAE flag,” Ali said.
The whole effort cost $170,000, including the costs of sending people to source the money, paying for rare, old coins and glueing them to the car.
By comparison, this year will be inexpensive.
“We will be spending about Dh40,000,” Ali said. “We want to make something different every year. We want to show everybody that we love our country.
“We like cars and this is our way of expressing love for our country.”
The 1985 Land Rover is a work in progress.
“We will first cover the Land Rover with foil, then stick the dried leaves using three types of glue,” Ali said.
“It will be difficult to do this and each leaf has to be stuck individually. It will take about two weeks to get it ready.”
Once pasted to the car the leaves will be painted in red, white, black and green.
Ali, who owns a company called 111 Group with Khalid, which comprises car rentals, a garage and a showroom, hit on the idea while walking to the supermarket.
“I saw people cutting down palm trees near my house,” he said. “I told them to bring the leaves to my house instead of letting them go to waste.
“I wanted to do something for National Day that reflects tradition.”
He said the ideas were his own.
“Nobody gives me ideas. I think of ways to catch the attention of people and the media and come up with these unique ideas myself. If you have to be number one, you have to think creatively,” Ali said.
The cars will be seen cruising down Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai on National Day, December 2.