Porsche Centre Dubai
Dubai looked very different in the early Nineties. Back then, the Sheikh Zayed road, which runs the length of Dubai, was bordered largely by desert and the occasional palm tree, with a few hundred metres of sand separating it from the sea to the west.
The buildings were rather sparsely distributed and modestly sized by the standard of today’s thriving emirate.
In much the same way, Porsche is a dramatically different-looking company to that of the early Nineties. 1993’s 993 was launched on a shoestring by todays standards, and the balance sheets made for grim reading.
Contrast that to the 2012 Porsche, which generated $2.4 billion (£1.45 billion) from 143,000 sales and claims the highest profit per unit of any volume car maker on the planet. As transformations go, it’s as impressive as the evolution of the Dubai skyline.
So it makes sense that these two fiscal powers should make for happy bedfellows, and the local population would seem to agree, for the Dubai OPC – Al Nabooda Automobiles – has held its position as the top-selling Official Porsche Centre in the world for the last nine years.
Not bad for a city of just over 2 million inhabitants, although the average salary here is more penthouse flat than semi-detached. When the Dubai Printing Press was formed over 50 years ago, the success of the company would probably have seen the boss ordering himself a Porsche (had they been available then!).
Fast forward to 2014, and the company has evolved into the Al Nabooda Group, a hugely diverse and successful operation with interests in real estate, civil and marine engineering, printing, and automobiles, to name just a few.
Established in 1976, Al Nabooda Automobiles have vast dealerships for Audi and Volkswagen as well as Porsche – keeping it in the family, you could say.
The expansion of the Porsche side of the business has been as impressive as the inexorable rise of Dubai itself, with the main OPC now supplemented by two separate service centres away from the main city and bespoke premises keeping the pre-owned Porsche away from the new.
The ample new car showroom sits a few metres from the Sheikh Zayed road on the western side, in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, the 830-metre Burj Khalifa. Not your normal view from an OPC, but then this is far from your normal OPC altogether.
The key lies in that figure we alluded to earlier – Al Nabooda Porsche Dubai holds the honour of the top-selling individual Porsche outlet globally for the last nine years, and only the resurgence of the Far East might affect that, with the Hong Kong OPC understood to be in line to snatch the record.
Come what may, it’s a hugely impressive performance and reflects just how successful – and popular – Porsche is in the UAE. Exact figures were not given (discretion in business being highly valued here), but chatting with some of the sales team suggested a figure over six cars per day isn’t wide of the mark, based on a six-day week, and taking into account public holidays, that’s well over 1,800 cars a year.
Driving around the UAE – Dubai in particular – it’s not hard to believe. You see many Porsches cruising around, and while this may be partially reflective of the amount of folks with the required disposable income, it’s not as though there’s a lack of choice when debating how to splurge the end-of-year bonus. Porsche has made its mark here.
In a country where fuel is cheaper than water and premium cars are used to commute to the office (where vast underground car parks facilitate the lifestyle), the Cayenne is by far the most popular model.
This is hardly a surprise, given that the Cayenne outsold the 911 by almost three to one globally. What we do see is the European trend for diesel taking a back seat – many of the Cayennes (and Panameras) which roll out of Al Nabooda will sport V8 power, and most will be augmented by Turbos. Given the fuel prices, I’d do the same.
So where does this leave the evergreen 911? The third most popular Porsche ordered here (just behind the Panamera), and therefore the topselling, top-level sports car. That’s reflective of the global trend too, only more so; you won’t travel far before spotting that ubiquitous glasshouse.
And chances are it will be a hard-top – it’s easy to imagine that with only five days of rain per year, a convertible would be the natural choice, but in reality the sunshine is too harsh, and most prefer to take refuge in their air-conditioned cocoons.
By far the most dominant colour choice is white; another choice driven by the local climate, and thankfully one that graces the shape of a modern Porsche beautifully. I may well be thinking of the stunning white 991 GT3 sitting in the customer collection bay as I write that.
Colour choice, then, follows the European trend, with the silver-greyblack colour pallets all proving to be popular. Shouty reds and yellows are less common, and are found mainly on the sports models, with the same philosophy applied when selecting interior colours.
Speed bumps may be abundant in the residential areas here, but that doesn’t stop most buyers opting for the largest and most expensive wheel options. With many of the roads built or resurfaced in the last decade, the trade-off in ride quality here is largely inconsequential.
Owner: Al Nabooda Automobiles
Location: Al Quoz Industrial Area 3, Dubai
Most popular Porsche sales: Cayenne S
Most popular 911 hue: Carrara white
Did you know? Al Nabooda Automobiles regularly goes racing with a two-car team in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. Owned by Porsche Centre Dubai, Al Nabooda Racing has been in competition since 2005, winning the Gulf Radical Championship for the first two seasons with long-standing driver Karim Al Azhari. The team also went on to secure successive GT racing titles in the UAE in 2007 and 2008.
Telephone: +971 4 3716700
Otherwise, the options list sees just little more indulgence than a typical Euro-spec car, but perhaps not the tick-every-box approach that you might expect.
Wealthy, yes, but discerning with it, and it’s an essential part of Porsches success, with 11,609 cars delivered across the Middle East and Africa region, figures which show Dubai’s 14 per cent growth in 2013 contributed over ten per cent of the region’s total sales.
With more 911 derivatives to come – and the Macan recently launched – we won’t be surprised to see the Dubai OPC back at the top of the sales charts in 2014.