Dubai airport clogged with cars abandoned by fleeing construction workers

The roads around Dubai airport are clogged with abandoned cars left behind by guestworkers from the construction industry who are fleeing the country ahead of the economic collapse:
On the night of December 31, 2008 alone more than 80 vehicles were found at the airport. "Sixty cars were seized on the first day of this year," director general of Airport Security, Mohammed Bin Thani, told DNA over the phone. On the same day, deputy director of traffic, colonel Saif Mohair Al Mazroui, said they seized 22 cars abandoned at a prohibited area in the airport.

Faced with a cash crunch and a bleak future ahead, there were no goodbyes for the migrants -- overwhelmingly South Asians, mostly Indians - just a quiet abandoning of the family car at the airport and other places.

While 2,500 vehicles have been found dumped in the past four months outside Terminal III, which caters to all global airlines, Terminal II, which is only used by Emirates Airlines, had 160 cars during the same period...

"The construction and real estate industry has been hit following the global slowdown and the direct fallout is that professionals working in the realty industry are rapidly losing their jobs," said a senior media professional, in-charge of a realty supplement in Dubai. "In fact, my weekly real estate supplement usually had 60% advertisement and ran into 300-odd pages. In the last seven weeks, it's down to 80 pages and with fewer advertisments," he added.

Mumbai resident D Nair (name changed) had been living in a plush highrise in Sharjah for the past four years. However, the script went horribly wrong when his contract was terminated. Nair used all his credit cards to their maximum limit, shopping for people back home. He then discarded his Honda Accord before returning to India for good. Nair, who stays in a rented apartment in Navi Mumbai today, has a Rs15 lakh loan with a Dubai bank.

Indians flee Dubai as dreams crash (via BLDGBLOG)



  1. Sounds like a good place to pick up used cars, either for sale or scrap.

    Maybe we’ll be seeing some of these come to the US in the form of scrap metal for wind or hydro turbines.

  2. Although the situation is sad for families/workers/businesses involved, that’s a fantastic article. It conjures up ballardian images of brand new cars left to rust in yet another incomplete utopia. Thanks.

  3. As a recent (former) employee of Cunard, where the QE2 now resides, I’d say it couldn’t have happened to a worse country. They bought her for top dollar, planning to refit her into a hotel. With a little luck, that’ll never happen now.

    A ship is a SHIP. Even QM, parked in Long Beach, is still a ship.

  4. “Why would our slaves leave their beautiful cages for a dirty flat in some poor country? Don’t they know we care for them almost as much as we care for our pets? Why, oh why does this happen to us? We are the true victims here.”

  5. @11: Zing!

    Here in Lebanon the recession has not hit us directly (or at least not yet) but many Lebanese who were working in the Emirates are being laid off.

  6. Lets build islands in the sea, Screw nature, money is all you need to turn the world upside down.

  7. I have to say, Cory, I’m very disappointed with the exaggeration you’ve added to it. I pass by the airport most days on my way to university and back home, and “clogged” is not a word that describes it.

    Not only that, but the construction workers get too low a wage to be able to afford a car to buy for themselves. So even if they’d be leaving the country ahead of a global economic recession/depression, I would question and be very skeptical of the chances of that segment of society leaving cars behind in the area around the airport.

    It’s pretty disappointing that some (reputable?) newspapers and blogs have took up a piece of information and blown it way out of proportion.

    I agree with #16, it is total BS. Gulf News isn’t the only newspaper to point out that this issue was exaggerated, a lot of the other local news sources pointed that out, over the past week the issue has been heavily editorialized in most of the local newspapers, Arabic and English alike.

  8. Dubai will be an interesting place to visit… in 50 years, once it’s completely abandoned and only a few sheep herders wander near it.

  9. Maybe the story linked to in #16 was written according to the new “you aren’t allowed to publish anything that makes us look bad” edict. Now that there’s no unbiased reporting coming from the country it’s safe to assume that you can no longer believe -anything- that comes from media inside the country. The story is that 1+n cars are being abandoned; the real story is that the economic slowdown is hitting everybody. No surprise there.

  10. I actually was in Dubai last weekend and passed by the police station. All I saw in there parking lot was hundreds and hundreds of cars covered in sand. What does that tell you? Seized cars from the airport….

    I’m looking into getting that Range Rover I saw.

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