A few short years ago, Dubai was the epicenter of conspicuous consumption. Its mammoth hotels, opulent resorts and over-the-top shopping centers represented the manifestation of man's insatiable hunger for energy.
Today, with a global financial crisis underway and oil prices halved from their highs, even Dubai has fallen on hard times. As unemployment takes its toll, the number of abandoned vehicles has risen by 20%.
Luxury cars worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams can be found gathering dust on roadsides across Dubai, the remnants of the city-state’s economic boom that was brought to an abrupt halt by the global financial crisis.
The financial crisis forced many companies to slash jobs and those made redundant who had taken advantage of easy credit during the boom found themselves unable to meet car payments... Dubai Municipality said 1,476 vehicles were recovered in the year to July 31, compared to 1,227 during the same period in 2008...
...Throughout Dubai there are dust-covered cars with violation notices stuck to the windscreens, warning the owners that their vehicles will be removed in 15 days. Once removed the municipality stores them at the Al-Qusais scrap yard.
In a sand pit in one affluent Dubai neighbourhood, the Springs, a Land Rover Discovery sits motionless covered in dust with "another one bites the dust" written on a grimy side window...
...A few miles down the road in another residential district called Al-Barsha, a Porsche Boxster is parked with keys in the ignition. On the passenger seat are documents for a 144,000-dirham ($39,200) loan taken out at a Dubai bank.
The number of vehicles that have been abandoned in Dubai as become the stuff urban legend, with rumours of thousands of cars being dumped at the airport as debt-laden, high-flying execs flee the emirate after losing their jobs in the global financial crisis...
MoneyWeek confirms the airport-as-permanent-parking-lot meme:
There is a "regular astonishing sight" at Dubai's international airport, says Mark Hollingsworth in ES Magazine: dozens of luxury cars – Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs, etc – abandoned with their keys still in the ignition. In some cases, notes of apology are taped to the windscreens.
The owners of these vehicles are mainly British expatriates, who have left in a hurry because they faced "crippling debts" as a result of Dubai's financial meltdown and their own profligate behaviour. Many of them, says Hollingsworth, have defaulted on loans; rather than risk arrest and jail, they drove at top speed to the airport where they jumped on the first flight to London.
And if you're looking for bargains, word has it that prices on used luxury cars dropped 40% from January to March.
Update: The Last Days of Rome: Dubai's Abandoned Supercars, Part II.
Image Credits: David MacKay, Buildings UK, News OK, McSavage. Linked by: AutoSpies. Thanks!