All photos by Chantelle D’mello
When the sixth annual Qatar Motor Show opens its doors to the public this afternoon, visitors can expect to see a few changes compared to previous iterations, from the location of the event to what’s on display to what types of cars are being unveiled.
Here’s what you need to know:
Change of venue
For the first time, the motor show will be held at the newly opened Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) in West Bay.
The change in venue from the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) has been met with mixed reviews by exhibitors.
Some said they appreciated the more central location, which makes it easier for people to just drop by and take a look around.
But others lamented that visitors would have to pay for parking and said they preferred the previous year’s setup because it seemed more spacious.
Adel Mohammed, the digital marketing manager at Mannai Trading, said:
“If you try to take a picture of GMC for example, you can see like five other brands in the background.
Parking here may also pose an issue because it’s paid. People may not like that. Why would they come here when they can see it online for free?”
The parking fee for visitors or the public is Q5 for the first two hours to accommodate quick visits; Q5 for each additional hour for the next three hours; and QR10 for each extra hour for a maximum of QR150.
Fewer luxury heavyweights
The number of exhibitors is up from 35 last year to 40 this year, but there are some noticeable absences.
In 2015, several exotic models and supercars were on display, but this year’s show lacks representation from luxury heavyweights like Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.
According to several exhibitors at this year’s show, the decision not to showcase may have to do with the high price – close to QR3.65 million, said Mohammed – it takes to set up a booth at the show.
“Luxury brands may not always have something new to showcase, so it becomes hard to justify the cost and the investment needed to set up here,” said Declan McCluskey, the general manager at Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co.
Still, attendees at this year’s motor show can expect to see several local premieres such as Qatar’s first concept sports car, and a small handful of regional debuts from brands like Audi, Nissan, Infiniti and Renault.
German luxury automobile company Audi hosted three regional premieres at yesterday’s media and VIP day – the RS Q3, the SQ5 and the S8 plus.
When asked about the decision to launch the cars in Doha, rather than at the Dubai Motor Show, Khalid Al Sabi, the PR manager for Audi Middle East said:
“Why Doha? Because Qatar is an important market for Audi, and thus is part of the commitment we have to invest and launch models in the region. We do also launch lots of cars at the Dubai Motor Show, but both markets are important for us. It’s also connected to the timeline of the car’s launch itself. We cannot launch something in Dubai when it won’t be on the market for a year or so.”
Nissan, Renault and Infiniti, all of which fall under local dealer Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana and Co., have also launched three models – the QX50, the Nissan Nismo, and the Renault Clio RS Sport. All will be for sale in Qatar in about two months.
For sport car enthusiasts, Ferrari is also showcasing the new Ferrari 488 Spider, following its recent global debut in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
First fan zone
A new fan zone, which was still under renovation during yesterday’s media tour, will be one of the main attractions at this year’s event.
According to organizers, the zone is being set up in an open-air space on one end of the exhibiting venue, and includes simulations and interactive booths.
Under the theme of “Explore the World of Motion,” there will be a Formula 1 driving simulator by Evotek Engineering and a safe driving booth by Shell and the traffic department.
Cars aside, the event also features a line of carbon-fiber drones made by the Italian company Carbondrone. Imbued with technology used in MotoGP and Formula 1 vehicles, the model, dubbed Devilray, is a customizable, four-propeller drone with an integrated camera that can shoot in high definition.
The motor shows runs from 4 to 10pm on Thursday and Sunday, from 1 to 10pm on Friday and Saturday and from 1 to 8pm on Monday. More information can be found on its website here.
Who’s going? Thoughts?