One of the world’s richest scrapyards is likely to expand after authorities in Dubai announced plans to step up efforts to clear the streets of abandoned luxury cars.
According to Gulf News, approximately 2000 to 3000 cars are abandoned in Dubai each year.
At the peak of the Global Financial Crisis a decade ago, a large number of exotic and expensive supercars and luxury vehicles were left abandoned because their owners could no longer afford the repayments.
Under Dubai law at the time, people who failed to pay a loan were at risk of a lengthy jail sentence, and fled the region leaving their expensive cars behind.
But there’s no longer a risk of jail time simply for loan default, according to Dubai-based motoring journalist Damien Reid, an expat Australian.
“Many people did ‘dump and run’ during the (2008 to 2010 Global Financial Crisis) because back then a bounced cheque was a criminal offence resulting in a prison sentence,” Reid told CarAdvice.
“So when many expats lost their jobs, they simply walked out of their rented accommodation, left their cars and credit card debt behind, and jumped on a one-way flight,” he said. “So for about two years, it was true, you did see abandoned cars, and back then the airport car park had a lot of dusty exotica.”
However, he says, the laws in Dubai have since changed. While you can get a ticket for having a dirty car, it turns out many supercars today often look abandoned because they get covered in dust in the harsh elements, even if only parked for a few days.
“If you leave your car on the street for a few days it gets dusty … and it looks like it’s been dumped,” Reid told CarAdvice.
“If a sand storm comes through, your pride and joy can look like it’s been abandoned for years in a matter of minutes,” he said. “If you’re unlucky, police will even issue an infringement on the parked car for needing a wash. Rare, but it happens.”
However, authorities still seize plenty of supercars, and many expats still leave cars behind because they are too lazy – or too rich – to be bothered selling their secondhand vehicle.
Reid told CarAdvice Dubai police can impound cars for three months if a driver is caught running a red light, tailgating, driving on the hard shoulder, or travelling at 45km/h over the speed limit, “so the impound yards are always full and always have some good supercars in there”.
As for expats fleeing the country with bad debt, Reid says most Dubai lending institutions were not affiliated with international banks during the GFC, “so the defaulters could not be tracked outside the (United Arab Emirates) and could only be caught if they passed through Dubai airport again, where they would be arrested.”
Reid said, at the time, if loan defaulters didn’t transit through Dubai they would likely never get caught.
However, Reid says, citizens and expats with debts in Dubai can now negotiate through the courts rather than risk jail time.
Dubai lending institutions can now trace foreigners through the international banking system and “as a result, you don’t hear stories of abandoned cars any more,” other than those who are too lazy or too wealthy to dispose of them properly.
Nevertheless, the combination of abandoned cars – in addition to vehicles wrecked in crashes – means Dubai is home to one of the richest scrapyards in the world.
YouTube star Supercar Blondie recently visited one of the scrapyards of Dubai and unearthed dozens of dumped supercars and luxury limousines, including famous brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
The latest video by Supercar Blondie, which had already clocked up more than 2.8 million views as this article was published, shows aerial footage (pictured above) of countless abandoned and wrecked cars, many of which were high-end luxury vehicles.
Some vehicles were there as a result of a high speed crash, while others appeared to have no visible damage and were gently laid to rest on a forklift.
Abandoned cars are issued with a notice and the owners are sent a text message. If owners do not respond within 15 days, the car is seized.
Under Dubai law, after a car has been impounded, owners of seized cars have six months to claim their vehicle after paying a fine.
Once the six-month deadline passes, the abandoned or seized vehicles are auctioned for a fraction of their original price.
Below is Supercar Blondie's recent video tour of a Dubai scrapyard: