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Friday, October 21, 2011

Automotive Orphans

Firstly, let me explain my lack of posts in the last few months. I have been on kind of a "Blogcation". There are several reasons for this. The summer is brutal here and staying indoors is a survival tactic. Since I am not a mall rat or movie theater kind of guy (I prefer watching movies in the comfort of my own home where cold beer, cheap popcorn are at hand and the loo is but a few steps away), that means long, tedious and boring days off at home.

Much like folks that live in Northern climes during winter, one develops "cabin fever". This phenomenon dulls the senses, encourages laziness and crushes creativity and motivation. Since I no longer own a car, journeys outside are not as spontaneous as they used to be and I have been doing fewer interesting things to write about.

Now, the weather is moderating and I am coming out of my summer hibernation. I can leave the windows open now and  feel the cool breeze. I feel my energy coming back and the creative juices are flowing again like sap in a tree at springtime.  So look for more activity from me in the next few months. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Cats are cool, this one is confident and fearless 18 stories up balancing on a thin rail. It just doesn't give a crap! I wish I had the powers that cats have. I love this photo!

Now to the topic. In Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. as a whole, there are thousands of abandoned cars. You see them everywhere from airports to residential parking garages to streetside downtown. They are instantly recognizable due to the heavy coat of dust they sport. Most have messages scrawled on the dusty windows such as "please wash me" or "runner" (more on this later).

"Wish my girl was as dirty". Hint for the Ladies! Spice up your life!

These are not old rustbuckets that were destined for the junkyard either. Most are late-model Porsches, Mercedes, Audis, Jaguars, BMWs and other desirable makes. In the parking lot of the place I live, I have seen the same abandoned cars sit for over two years. The management here even has them washed once in awhile so they wouldn't be such eyesores. I find that hilarious! Don't fix the problem, just make it look better. Kind of symbolic of the way things are generally handled here.

This Audi TT has been here for 2 years! It is washed occasionally by management.

Recently Getting Police Attention

Tires go flat, batteries die, paint dulls and the interior appointments dry and crack from the sun and heat. Why are these fine automobiles left to rot in the extreme elements here?  The simple answer is that the laws in the U.A.E. are to blame. You see, it is illegal to leave the country for good if you owe money.

If you do the right thing and inform your employer of your intention to resign or are fired, the employer informs the bank and the bank informs immigrations if you have a credit balance. In most countries, you are allowed to pay back debts from abroad. Here, you will be detained, arrested and checked into the "Gray Bar Hotel" as you attempt to leave the U.A.E. owing money.  Everyone must have a bank clearance letter to emigrate.

This harsh treatment and wicked alliance between the government and the banks forces some expats facing a dire situation (you cannot stay here without a job) to just leave without notice and abandon everything behind to escape prison time. These desperados are known as "runners" and the dusty cars littering the parking lots around the U.A.E. are their legacy. This is one of the reasons I sold my car and have resisted the temptation of going into debt with a local institution.

A Nice Volvo

Abandoned BMW

The vast majority of these cars are owned by the banks through loans to individuals yet they sit for years in the same place where they were abandoned. While the banks are aggressive about punishing individuals that owe them money, they are curiously passive about recovering these cars so they can resell them and cover some of their losses. Its like they don't give a damn, just another cost of doing business. Such a waste seeing these fine cars rotting away. Where I come from, the banks hire "repo men" to recover automotive assets within a few months. Here it seems more important to send someone to jail than to mitigate losses by actively recovering these cars. Just another example of how I have trouble understanding how things work over here.

I never have and I never will! 

VW Scirocco ,  not abandoned but I want one!


Chuck said...

Wow, I remember you had mentioned this once before in your advice to someone considering a move there, but I had no idea the level of "abandonment" was so widespread.

My new-ish car has approximately 3 years of payments left - be nice to get that taken care of and be free of debt for a change!

Eccentric M said...

Speaking of abandoned exotics, there is a Ferrari Enzo covered with dust at an impound lot in Dubai.

Anonymous said...

Only a fool would buy a VW.
-- Your brother in AZ.
(BTW: I fly to SGU tomorrow to scrawl "Wash me bi**h" on your dusty mustang. Don't worry; I'll take good care…)

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