Arab playboys and their toys: Documentary shows the rich Gulfis driving Londoners round the bend
A documentary that highlights a clash between Middle Eastern supercar owners and residents of upmarket areas in the UK capital has got motoring enthusiasts in the UAE all revved up.
The programme entitled ‘Millionaire Boy Racers’ - which aired in the UK this month - was filmed in Knightsbridge, one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
It examines issues between wealthy British residents and the summer influx of affluent Arabs who fly in their high-end exotic rides. In the film, homeowners in the area say they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the young men who land each summer, some of whom ‘show off’ by recklessly driving their Bugattis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis close to the famous Harrods department store.
A Dubai-registered Ferrari F430 and a bright pink Abu Dhabi-registered Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead are among the cars featured in the film. The posh Central London residents are also seen accusing the UK’s Metropolitan Police of double standards for allegedly failing to clamp down on drivers from the Gulf who race their supercars and perform stunts.
However, some UAE residents who have watched the documentary accuse the filmmakers of being one-sided and even offensive at times. Dubai-based classic cars consultant Gaurav Dhar, who was approached to participate in the project, told 7DAYS he was glad he did not contribute as the content was biased.
“I think the range of characters they picked to be on the programme weren’t exactly the complete audience that goes to London,” he said. According to Dhar, the filmmakers also failed to show the other side of things, which is that people who drive exotic cars have a genuine passion for their motors.
“A lot of these people are serious collectors with a lot of experience. When they go out and they drive their cars, they truly enjoy the experience of the culture behind collecting the car, the brand, the history, the racing, the pedigree, the events - so there’s a lot more to it,” Dhar said.
“It is way beyond a status symbol, and it is way, way, beyond showing off,” he emphasised. Meanwhile, one UAE resident who takes his car to London for the summer with his friends said he thinks the conflict between them and Londoners isn’t really a culture clash but rather just a clash between the rich and the richer. "They just don’t like seeing someone who has more than they do in their own country,” said Ahmed M.
“The angry people in the film even said it’s ‘reverse colonisation’ according to them, which I think is a bit rude.
“We don’t say that when people from other parts of the world come to live here and set up their businesses and go to their noisy brunches.” Ahmed added: “In fact, I know some people from the UK who even come to Dubai and buy holiday homes here so they can own the luxury cars tax-free, which they can’t do back
in their country.
“But I can understand if they are jealous. They dream of buying such cars… and I mean who wouldn’t want a Bugatti? After all, people line up on the streets to take photos of our cars,” Ahmed said, referring to the ‘carparazzi’ who wait hours for a chance to snap pictures and videos.
Meanwhile, UAE-based supercar-rental store Exotic Cars, which featured in the documentary, says the response it has received since it was aired on UK television has been fantastic. “We are not at all upset,” said store owner, Zohaib Yahya. “We have received many calls about our cars from all over the Gulf since the show went on air,”.
Jonny Young, the executive producer of the documentary, made by Oblong Films and aired on Channel 4, told 7DAYS that the project was simply an opportunity for people with differing perspectives to speak out.
“The drivers in the film were given a voice to speak about why they like London and why they love their cars,” explained Young. “A documentary can raise questions and make people aware of a situation.”
He added: “We anticipated that the programme would prompt debate as it covered other issues alongside those of supercar disturbance, such as cultural differences, issues of wealth and of what is perceived by some to be a changing Britain.”