Sharjah business owners fear closure after car dealerships move to auto city

While residents of Abu Shagara are enjoying the peace and quiet after 400 car dealerships moved at the beginning of the year to Souq Al Haraj, car polishing shops and testing centres are suffering.

Powered by automated translation

SHARJAH // Business owners in Abu Shagara are contemplating closing their shops after losing up to 90 per cent of their income when car dealerships moved to the new auto city.

While residents of the area are enjoying the peace and quiet after 400 car dealerships moved at the beginning of the year to Souq Al Haraj, car polishing shops and used car testing centres are suffering.

Nabil Katani, who has run an Abu Shagara used car testing centre since 1995, had to let his staff go.

“We hardly get any customers these days. There was not enough income to pay my staff, so I let them go and now I’m working in the shop with my brother,” said the 60-year-old Syrian.

Since January, 90 per cent of his business has dried up, Mr Katani said.

“These days, my target is to meet my rent, and be able to pay it,” he said, adding that now, the majority of his business was from long-time customers and friends.

Pakistani Bilal Omar said his car testing centre used to generate Dh500 to Dh600 a day.

“I don’t know what to do. Before the move of the dealerships, the business generated good money, now I’m happy to get Dh50 a day,” he said.

Mr Omar had to close down his car dealership in the area, because he could not afford the rent at auto city. “My car dealership is closed, my car testing shop is still open, but I’m losing money,” the 48-year-old said.

“My landlord lowered the rent to keep me here, but I don’t now how much longer I can stay in this dire condition.

“Car testing facilities were not allowed to rent at the new location, because they have a dedicated centre in Souq Al Haraj. I’m contemplating closing shop and relocating to another emirate.”

Indian Intikhab Hasan, who has owned a car cleaning and polishing business for 22 years, said the only reason he was keeping his shop open was to support his long-term staff.

“My business is suffering from a 75 to 80 per cent decline in revenue. I have five workers in the shop who have been with me for the past 15 years. I can’t let them go; there is nowhere else they can get a job these days,” said Mr Hasan, who has been in the UAE for 35 years.

Pakistani Amer Hanash, who owns a car testing centre, said: “The business has gone downhill since February. At least 80 per cent of our monthly income has gone. Now we are happy to see a one or two customers a day.

“Before, it was a lucrative business, but now, with the lack of customers, it’s a matter of time before I close my business.”

Sharjah Ruler Dr Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi ordered the car dealerships to relocate to the Dh150 million site in Al Riqa Al Hamra, near Sharjah airport, after residents of Abu Shagara and Abu Danig complained about a lack of parking spaces and loud salesmen touting for business.