LONDON: The annual influx of Gulf Arab visitors to London marks the start of “supercar season” — drawing the attention of both motor fans, and parking inspectors. Vehicles from the top marques — from Bugatti to Bentley — hit the streets of West London at the beginning of the summer season. Many have plates from Gulf countries, having been flown in especially by their wealthy owners.
Supercars spotted by Arab News on Monday included a Gulf-plated Mercedes G-Class SUV, worth over $115,000, near Harrods department store, and a Dubai-plated Bentley Bentayga, worth over $170,000. A Bugatti Veyron from Dubai, worth over $1.4 million, was parked outside The Dorchester, a super-luxury hotel popular with Gulf Arab visitors. But the pricy supercars also spell great riches for London’s parking inspectors.
In Westminster — the upmarket London district that is home to the Harrods and Harvey Nichols luxury department stores — traffic wardens were busy Monday slapping the standard £130 ($167) parking fine notices on cars in the area breaking strict parking rules. Not only were Gulf-registered cars drawing their attention but many British-plated supercars were also attracting fines, while turning the heads of snap-happy passersby.
Many fines attracted by foreign drivers go unpaid: According to Westminster City Council figures, cars from France attracted the most unpaid fines in 2013-14, totaling £532,000 overall; cars from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranked sixth on the list, with a total of £57,000 in unpaid fines.
While this year’s “supercar season” has only just begun, it is expected to pick up considerably as summer rolls on. One London taxi driver parked near Harrods department store told Arab News it is early in the season, but he has noticed a general pick-up in Gulf-plated cars since the end of Ramadan.
A chauffeur standing by his Mercedes near The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge said he expects to see an increase in supercars in the area, but he thought the Gulf diplomatic spat with Doha may result in fewer Qatari-registered cars on the streets of London this summer.
But several Qatar-plated cars were seen parked outside The Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, including a red Rolls Royce — worth at least $300,000 — and a purple Porsche 911 valued at over $100,000.