IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that in Dubai they've got a problem with abandoned cars – not clapped-out old heaps left abandoned in the streets, but sparkling luxury, big price-tag saloons, 4WDs and sports cars being dumped to clutter-up airport car parks.
Last year alone over 3000 luxury cars were driven to international airports in Dubai and other parts of the United Arab Emirates for the seemingly strangest of reasons: their expatriate owners were fleeing the country to avoid going to prison for being in debt.
And it was because under the UAE's Sharia law, being in debt is a criminal offence, so expatriates whose companies have perhaps gone belly-up, they've maybe missed a major regular payment without even realising it, had a cheque bounce (deliberately or unwittingly,) or they've defaulted on their car's monthly instalment, have simply fled the country to avoid doing time in the slammer.
Their luxury cars from a once-glitzy Middle East lifestyle, and now dumped at airports, are impounded, held for a reasonable time to see if their owners will maybe come back, and then auctioned – with pounds currently overflowing with orphaned Mercedes, Aston Martins, Porsches, BMWs, Range Rovers, Corvettes, Audis and the odd Maserati, Lamborghini and, would you believe, Rolls Royce.
There's even a Ferrari Enzo, one of the world's ten fastest road cars and of which only 399 were ever produced, and reportedly worth a cool $1.5m.