Used car market in UAE attracts Iraqis

DUBAI - After the collapse of Saddam's regime and the existing lawlessness that hangs over Iraq, Iraqis have opened up to the markets of the neighbouring countries in pursuit of their basic needs which they lacked, not only due to the post-war impact, but ever since the imposition of economic sanctions some 13 years ago.

By Lina Abdul Rahman

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Published: Tue 27 May 2003, 11:49 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:09 PM

Now that sanctions have been lifted, and even before that, after their government collapsed, Iraqi traders as well as individuals have started to enjoy a renewed sense of freedom of movement in and out of their country and took practical measures depending on the neighbouring markets to revive their businesses and obtain their required consumer products.

The used cars market in the UAE is among the markets positively affected by the surging economic activity in the Iraqi markets, as it has witnessed in the past few weeks a boom in the number of cars exported from Dubai to Iraq which totalled 1,300 vehicles since the beginning of this month. The number is still expected to rise according to statistics prepared by the Dubai Police General Headquarters.

The noticeable fact is that while most of the Iraqi traders are going in for second hand cars, around 10 vehicles purchased from the UAE for export to Iraq during this month were 2003 production, three cars were 2002 model, seven cars 2001 model, while the rest were old models starting from the year 1980 to 1999.

Talking to Khaleej Times, an official at Dubai Police General Headquarters said: "At the end of March, the number of exported cars was only 328, while in April, the number of cars exported to Iraq reached 295 cars comprising three cars of 2003 model, one car of the 2001 model and the rest of the cars were models that were produced in year 2000."

Mr Saleh Al Ramsey, one of the owners of a used cars showroom in Sharjah said that the Iraqis are mainly buying either four-wheel drive cars or small convenient cars that are exempted from taxes.

"Due to the current situation in Iraq, Iraqis are tempted to buy cars either from Jordan or from the UAE as they are not obliged to present the import licence or customs tariffs to the concerned authorities in their country."

While touring around the used cars market in Sharjah to select the most suitable car to buy, Mr Hadi Kazem, who is currently visiting UAE for the first time in his life told Khaleej Times: "I came here accompanied by my wife. I am looking for an economical car that will cost me no more than $800, and once I buy the desired car, I will return back to Iraq."

Mr Kazem pointed out that a large number of Iraqis are now encouraged to buy vehicles from the neighbouring markets given the fact that they would not pay customs on them and they will only be charged between $25 and $50 for admitting the car into Iraq.

Meanwhile, cars are not the only items in high demand by the Iraqis who also look for other necessary items that were banned from entering Iraq since the sanctions such as electronics, baby food and communication devices.

Dr Faisal Abdul Saheh, an Iraqi citizen living in the UAE said: "The Iraqis have been suffering from the UN's prolonged economic sanctions which resulted in the shortage of many vital products. As the situation is still unclear and the living conditions are very difficult to endure, my relatives who are staying in Iraq keep requesting me to buy them particular items which I used to send by ferries going to Iraq or by trucks heading to Jordan and then to Iraq or through the humanitarian relief supply," added Dr Abdul Saheh.

When asked about the main items demanded by his relatives, he said: "Electronic goods, mobile phones, babyfood, blankets, and satellite dishes."

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