The GM Dubai Style event Sunday November 11, 2007 at the
Madinat Jumeirah Arena
was an incredible setting for this 'invitation only' event
with over 800 attendees from all over the world. The evening began with
outdoor canapé reception at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena at the Water
Terrace on Fort Island. I was able to mingle freely with the VIP
guests, GM executives and celebrities
attending the event. A incredible feast
for the eyes and senses as the traditional Arab culture and dress mixed
runway models, stars, GM cars and expats living the good life in Dubai.
Female race car driver Marwa Asl Efi was also featured during the event, she hopes her racing encourages other young women in the region to join a local circuit. I would have loved to have an opportunity to interview her! She drives in the Lumina CSV Championship race series and won the Dubai Women's Desert Rally in 2005 championship. Race car drivers Basil Shaabanand , Abdo Feghali and singer Kark Wolfe were also there and posed for a photo for me, (pictured).
Hossan Shadi, Sales and Marketing Manager and John Arnold, GM of Gargash Motors, a Saab dealer here in Dubai, talked with me about how they approach the female buyer. Hossan mentioned that UAE women do influence car buying decisions very much like in the USA and do use their veto power on car buying decisions with their husbands, "They are just a bit more reserved than European or American women expats living in Dubai", he stated.
One of their clients Rashid Obaid Al Zaabi of Abu Dhabi Oil Operations and a self proclaimed car nut, took a close up look at the 2008 Chevy Avalanche as he peered into the window, (pictured here). He'll be shopping for a new SUV at the auto show this week. I asked if he would consider the new Tahoe Hybrid making it's debut tonight, which made for an interesting conversation about IF a Dubai oil executive would consider driving hybrids or electric vehicles in light of the fact that Dubai has a big problem with air pollution because of the sudden increase in population and traffic and lack of green areas. He was surprised GM was introducing a Tahoe Hybrid SUV and said he might even consider it.
I met briefly with and had a photo op, (pictured) with GM's first lady Maureen Kempston Darkes, GM president, GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Maureen is the highest ranked women in the auto industry. I will have an opportunity later this week to do a one on one interview with her to find out what it took to get to the top of GM. She is originally from Canada as is Susan Docherty, General Motors Western Region General Manager, another high ranking woman at GM.
Promptly at 7:45 pm we were escorted into the Grand Ballroom and seated for a formal dining experience on velvet covered chairs. Arabic appetizers were served along with bread, humus and salad, while live traditional Arab music played to a male troupe of dancers twirling and spinning across the stage.
Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates. English is also widely spoken, as are Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. Masters of ceremonies for the GM Cars and Stars show in English was Barbara Terry, automotive expert woman, and in Arabic comedian and actor Tony Asbou Jaoude. The heckled each other that set the tone for a fun, exciting and entertaining evening.
The real stars in my book were the GM cars! The total car girl that I am really oooohh and ahhhhhhhhh more for the cars more than the stars as they paraded up and down the catwalk escorted by the stars. Cadillac introduced a special addition Escalade Middle East on the catwalk which I understand has ostrich leather seats. I will get a closer look at this one during the auto show later this week. The Holden EFIGY made a huge splash, (pictured), and one of the GM executives mentioned a wealthy UAE offered any price to buy this custom built one of a kind magnificent machine, which is a 'NOT FOR SALE' or ever going into production. Will the EFIGY disappear into the Dubai desert sands...I hope not ....that really should be MY next car, right ladies?
The dinner and desert was again a blend of tastes and treats from the cultures represented and was presented with live Latin music, sung in Arabic and Spanish, an unusual, entertaining and oh so appropriate combination. It felt like I was attending a United Nations dinner party not just another car event. If I were to compare the GM Style event during the Detroit Auto Show to this one I would have to say hands down, the Dubai GM Style event had ten times the style, cultural experience, excitement and fun. Thank you GM for my 'Golden Ticket' to enjoy and partake in this awesome once-in-a-lifetime event.
(Jody DeVere pictured with Tamer Hagras, model, actor and major motion picture star who is a household name in the Middle East).