Dubai’s used car traders demand action against those operating outside official market

Dubai Municipality established Al Aweer Used Car Market in the 1990s, moving traders to one place. However new licences to sell used cars are being issued to businesses in what the traders say are in more prominent locations of the city.

DUBAI // Traders at the emirate’s sole official market for used cars are demanding the closure of rival businesses that operate outside Al Aweer Used Car Market.

Dubai Municipality established the market – also known as the Ras Al Kor car souq – in the 1990s. It moved traders of used cars from around the city into a dedicated site.

To entice the traders to move, the municipality offered them a deal that only allowed businesses at the market to sell used cars in the emirate.

However, the Department of Economic Development has started to issue licences for traders of used cars elsewhere, often in prominent areas such as Sheikh Zayed Road, which traders at the market said broke their agreement with the municipality.

“Opening used car businesses out of the market will hurt the general economy and damage the goal of establishing the market in the first place,” said Faisal Al Bedaiwi, head of markets management at Dubai Municipality.

“We were surprised to notice a surge in the shops that are selling cars outside of the car market. Some have been in operation since 2014 and are not covered by our exemption or licensed by us.

“Most used car shops in the city were transferred to the market in the 1990s. We have 209 showrooms and an exception was made to 10 stores only to operate outside,” said Mr Al Bedaiwi.

A municipality investigation found several companies were operating under various trade names to circumvent the rules.

“When the Department of Economic Development was questioned over this, their answer was that the cars sold were considered new,” said Mr Al Bedaiwi.

Mohamad Al Jasmy, a trader of used cars, said his business was suffering because of competition from outside the market.

“I have suffered immensely by the opening of stores outside the scope of the exclusivity of the car market,” he said. “I had a large number of people who visited us in between 2002 and 2012, even during the economic crisis. But now we are faced with the difficulty of attracting customers. We’ve paid high premiums to be based here.”

Another trader of used cars said businesses at the market should be compensated.

“We were promised exclusivity. We were promised a formal single market for the sale of used cars in Dubai,” he said. “But the municipality can’t guarantee that to us anymore and unfortunately they can’t hold the ones that break the law accountable and that has affected our trade.”

The Department of Economic Development was not available for comment.