Opinion: Dubai Motor Show – a victim of circumstances, or maybe not!
Yesterday, November 12, 2019, saw the opening of the region’s premier motor show – the 15th Dubai International Motor Show – at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
I use the word “premier” because through all its iterations in the past, it has without a doubt been the most sought after automotive exposition the region has seen. Manufacturers have flocked to showcase not only their products but also their vision for the future in terms of concept vehicles and future tech.
The atmosphere and energy seen in the past used to be eclectic and was translated in the paying public drive in droves to find out about their next automotive purchase. The buzz, excitement, glamour and the tinge of anticipation of viewing the incredible and stunning vehicles sure raised the pulse up north.
But sadly, as has been the trend all over the globe in recent times, motor shows seem to be loosing their sheen and it seems that no amount of polishing is erasing the deep cuts left by an industry that is reeling with a downshift in sales and new contenders that have disrupted the automotive scenario worldwide.
Traditional motor show powerhouses, like Frankfurt, Paris, Detroit and Los Angeles to name but a few, have seen waning participation by manufacturers. If at all present at motor shows, then manufacturers have scaled down their carpet areas massively to save on costs, preferring to invest more prudently in launching new models in other different ways.
Let’s face it. 2019 has seen automotive sales plummet all over the world and there is a sense of being pragmatic in spending the marketing dollars. The automotive sector, as we all know it, has seen disruption with the introduction of new cleaner technologies and powerplants and the implementation of much stricter emissions legislation by nations.
It is in hard times that brings out the best in people and companies who do take that leap of faith to portray things will change for the better in the future and they feel the need to convey their resilience to the market. And so it is the same for the Dubai International Motor Show.
Attending the press day, I was consumed with mixed feelings of sorrow and anger. The show which used to encompass multiple halls in the trade centre was confined to just the Sheikh Saeed Hall and bits of another hall. I was astounded at the participation levels of this, the “premier” automotive exposition in the region and was all prepared to slate the state of affairs this year. I have been coming to the Dubai show since 2001 and was shocked to see this year’s event so poorly subscribed.
Struggling to find a proper perspective to project the show was a major dilemma and it was only later in the evening that I found a different line of thought.
Taking into account all of the reasons mentioned in the beginning of this article, I realised that despite all odds of less participation of manufacturers, the current uncertainty in the market and having to still put up a show portraying the resilience and tolerance of weathering the storm, I have to in a way, applaud the Dubai World Trade Centre, for at least putting on a show.
They have forged ahead with the means available to them and have tried to put an event that hopefully satisfies all stakeholders and by this I mean the participants, the visiting public and organisers themselves. I am sure that more could have been on the plate but then it is what it is.
Kudos too to the manufacturers who have reposed their faith in the motor show. I am positive that they too would have thought long and hard in being present this year with a majority of players staying away. The participants present this year have proved their loyalty to the show which has given them a strong platform to present their wares through the last couple of decades and it was heartening to see the likes of GM, Nissan, BMW, Land Rover and Mitsubishi have regional launches of their new products this year.
Likewise, it was good to see Chinese manufacturers in the form of GAC and Hongqi step up to the plate and use the Dubai international Motor Show to show off their products to the Middle East public.
And then there were the specialist manufacturers like Inkas, Streit and Aspark Owl display some innovative products.
To sum it up, yes, it is a much smaller show than previous years with less on offer to see. But do go down to the Trade Centre and soak in the atmosphere. Besides the usual fare of new models, check out the classic car collection from Tomini Classics, the new custom-built supercar by Zedro as well as one by local UAE-based Ajlani Motors. Then there is drifting by the Prodrift Academy and lots more.
Hard times always lead to something great. Looking forward to 2021 for the next Dubai International Motor Show to be great again.