Dubai has always been important to ARES. And it’s only going to become more important.
Not only has it been my second home, but it was also the destination where we opened our very first showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road 2017. It was also the first place that we opened the first of the new generation of our showrooms in the middle of the high-end entertainment and financial district DIFC.
In general, Dubai and the Middle East is a very important market to ARES because the customers we have there are more demanding and exact in what they want than anywhere else in the world. They want true exclusivity in the cars they buy, something that nobody else can access.
Indeed, I recall the very first customer that ARES had, the one who persuaded me to finallycreate ARES. I was meeting with a member of a Middle Eastern royal family who arrived for lunch in a $2 million Bugatti. As we sat together, another customer of the restaurant we were in rolled into the car park with exactly the same spec of Bugatti – even the same paint colour. He was furious because even $2m had not afforded him something exclusive, and that is when he asked me to take his car and do something with it to make it truly bespoke.
Just as crucial with the Dubai market is our customers’ loyalty to our brand. This is key for us, not least because Dubai and the Middle East account for roughly 10% of our annual sales. But we have grown to know the clientele in Dubai very well and, as long as we keep pleasing them, they will keep coming back year after year. On the other hand, if we get something wrong, they will probably never come back again. It can be a double-edged sword, but we’ve had nothing but good experiences.
So this is why our first new-generation showroom has found its place in Dubai. It is the next natural step for the progression of our business.
What is different? We wanted to move into a different space, so we deliberately moved the showroom out of the traditional car showroom environment and into an area where there were art galleries and shopping districts and famous restaurants. That way, we are automatically in an area of Dubai where our natural clientele spend their time and the exclusive experience we can now offer fits perfectly in with other high-end and luxury products.
The original Dubai showroom was ahead of its time and was a first ‘try-out’, but even then it showed that it’s exactly what will make our business grow in this important region. The new one actually makes the others seems like they were outdated.
The market in Dubai is unlike any other. There is naturally a market for supercar-type vehicles – it fits in perfectly with the overall lifestyle and luxury vehicles are almost a necessity to show status. But. it’s very volatile and it goes in waves.
It is a pure buyers’ market, although that doesn’t apply to ARES because we are so niche. The buyers in the UAE know exactly what they want and what they want is that something tailor-made and very bespoke. They can buy plenty of products like Ferrari or Bentley or Porsche but they want something that is styled by them and offers that exclusivity.
It is the number market one for the likes of Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Lamborghini; however, because the customers there are so highly demanding, ARES offers a level of personalisation that the OEMs cannot. Buyers in the Middle East have found that they are limited in choice when it comes to their exacting standards, and that is why ARES still stands out despite the crowded marketplace.
That means that customers in Dubai are more challenging, but it also means that, if we get it right, it is even more lucrative and, as a result, our percentage of repeat customers is highest in Dubai. Once you figure out what the style and taste of the client are, however risky and courageous, you can provide exactly what they need and want before they even know what they want.
We have plans to grow in this region, with plans to open showrooms in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Doha to make our brand shine in the world’s richest markets.
From a personal point of view, Dubai means a lot to me. On and off, I’ve travelled there for about 20 years. I’ve seen it in many different stages, but it’s been impressive to me every single time I’ve come here, and I’ve been impressed to see how many more people have been living in the city and the improvements the royal family have made to the city.
I have lived in Dubai from 2012 to 2017 – the only reason I left is that ARES in Modena needed more attention. I still visit very regularly, and the lifestyle is not comparable to anywhere else in the world. It’s a very ‘live and let live mentality.
And, on many levels, Dubai is exactly what ARES is all about. Having your own bespoke product. Your way.
Dany Bahar – March 2021