Bling and buy at Dubai Motor Show
From diamond encrusted hood ornaments to electric motors, there is something for everyone at the motoring extravaganza
Volkswagen had street dancers, Audi's stand throbbed to the live sounds of UAE rockers Juliana Down and Renault rolled out F1 ace Mark Webber – yes, the Dubai International Motor Show 2011 is off.
Thursday marked the first day of the event, the biggest motoring extravaganza in the Middle East.
More than 100,000 people are expected to pass through the doors of Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre over the next five days.
But before they did, 7DAYS' Driven team and other motoring media got a chance to see what was on show for themselves.
From stunning supercars such as the McLaren MP4-12C and the Ferrari 458 Spider to reliable run-arounds, the show literally has everything.
Choosing highlights from such a sizzling smorgasbord is a true Sophie's Choice, however the above mentioned certainly drew large crowds.
And just a few yards away from these two stands was another class act, Aston Martin, to which I found myself returning again and again.
Not only did they have the sublime DBS Coupe on show but also the new V12 Zagato in showstopping red.
However, there are a few less obvious goodies at the show if you are prepared to look further.
For example, Mercedes-Benz has brought along some of its Guard range of armoured cars, while tucked away at the back of the Aston Martin stand is the cute little Cygnet, a city car that is a mile away from the firm's iconic sportscars.
Of course, there may be those that find such a celebration of petrol guzzling leaves a bitter taste in their mouth.
But fear not, despite the array of giant engines, there is a strong sense of environmental awareness and economy, perhaps driven by the economic and political climate of recent years.
Audi stressed how it is working towards an electric version of every model by 2020, while Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the SLK Roadster is the most fuel efficient V8 engine built, having cut consumption by 30 per cent on its previous generation.
And Emirates Gas is showcasing the energy efficiency and environment friendly attributes of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for cars, having partnered with Volkswagen to display the CNG-powered Passat Variant.
Zaid Al Qufaidi, from the firm, said: "The use of CNG to power automobiles is increasingly gaining acceptance in the region... Today, one of the key challenges faced in the region is the rising energy costs, increased dependency on fossil fuels, and the impact of their long-term use on the environment. CNG serves as a cost-effective and environment-friendly alternative."
However, such frugality was not so evident at nearby Rolls-Royce, which is witnessing tremendous growth in the Middle East. The brand unveiled a limited edition of its iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, encrusted with 2,700 diamonds and costing a whopping $250,000 – about the same as two Porsche 911s.
Pretty as it is, I think I know which I'd rather have parked in the garage.