Driving down the streets of Dubai, it is not unusual to see a Mercedes or Jaguar casually parked on the side of the road covered in dust and debris or a BMW, Land Rover, and Ferrari that obviously have not been driven in months sitting side by side in the Dubai International Airport parking lot. Seriously, thousands of the most expensive cars in the world are abandoned every year in the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Occasionally, they are accompanied by loan documents and have the keys still in the ignition. In other cases, the car has been stripped of anything that could link it to its owner.

So, why are so many people leaving their luxury cars behind? Surely, the drivers did not just forget where they parked their ridiculously high priced cars. No, there’s actually a pretty good reason why thousands of luxury vehicles have been abandoned.

There’s a Simple Answer

They are trying to escape the tough debt laws (and punishments) in the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai, the simple act of accidentally bouncing a check is a serious criminal offense that is punishable by jail time, fines, and repaying the amount of the check. Interestingly enough, if you don’t have the money to pay off your fines and the check amount at the end of your sentence, you will stay in jail until your family gets the money together. It’s worth noting that lawbreakers do get a one-month grace period to pay off the bounced check. If not, it’s off to jail.

It goes without saying that the punishment for not being able to repay your car loan to the bank is even worse. This is why you find so many of these cars can be found at or near the airport. The owner is hopping the next flight out of the country with no intention of returning to face his or her debts. Currently, there is no standard sentence for individuals who default on their car loan, so it’s impossible to say exactly what punishment the person is avoiding.


Everyone Does It

For many people in the UAE, both locals and expats, image is everything. Unfortunately, the global financial crisis has made it almost impossible for people to keep up with the image they cultivated while they were making plenty of money. This is why abandoning cars isn’t limited to the lower class. If anything, when you look at the types of vehicles found on the side of the road, it is pretty evident that the upper class is quite guilty.

For instance, in 2011 a Ferrari Enzo, one of only four hundred made in the world, was abandoned by its owner who quickly fled the area, never to reclaim it. (Although the owner hasn’t been identified, it is rumored to be a British billionaire.) In most cases, the abandoned vehicles are auctioned off, but not this million-dollar car. Today, the car is covered in dust and sits in a warehouse. According to Interpol, the car was stolen or at the very least purchased using stolen assets. Until the matter is settled, the car can’t be sold, which means that it will likely still be sitting there years from now.

That Doesn’t Mean It’s Over

Thanks to the large number of abandoned cars, a number of banks in the UAE are turning to debt collectors to find expats in the United Stated and United Kingdom. In an effort to collect the money owed, the debt collectors are turning to “intimidation and harassment” and even threatening to file notices with Interpol.

On a Final Note

If you just happen to be in the market for a high-end vehicle and can figure out an easy way to get it to your home from the UAE, there are plenty of options up for auction. Currently, there are a couple of 2016 Land Rover Sports, a 2015 Range Rover Evoque, a 2014 Lexus LX 570, and a 2014 Mercedes 280 to choose from. If they aren’t really your style, there’s quite a few more to choose from. There’s even a few classic cars, if that is more your speed.

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