The Largest Mosque, the largest roller coaster, the largest largest. And yes the largest Ducati showroom and facility in the world. All in Abu Dabhi and the nearby Emirates. I have come to love the way the Sheikhs think, of how this country thinks. Yesterday I was subjected to the magnificent road and construction engineering in Dubai and today me and Marcel (the Ducati Dubai manager), were supposed head out to Abu Dabhi, but not before doing a couple of important stopovers in the Dubai Mall, which you guessed it, is the L-a-r-g-e-s-t in the world!
At the Dubai Mall we head out to the Ducati Caffe first. The Ducati Caffe has yet to see an official opening, which is due on 25th May, however it was all spanking new and ready with delicious shades of red and even more delicious menu. I had an ice tea with a brownie over there. The décor kept me busy clicking and admiring what a powerful brand and legacy Ducati had. I felt proud and to be recognized by Ducati. I also met up with Majdi Mishaal, the Manager for the Caffe.
^With Marcel and Majdi at the Ducati Caffe in Dubai mall
After relaxing a bit at the Ducati lounge on the first floor of the Caffe Marcel and me headed out towards the Rolex showroom in the mall. It was quite a walk. Finally we spotted the Rolex showroom. I was supposed to get the Fast Rider watch from Tudor, which is a sub brand of Rolex for the trip. The FastRider watch. Tudor is Ducati’s Official Timekeeper. Based on the traditional red and black colors of Ducati, this time piece is meant to mark this partnership. The use of red and black, especially the stripes resembling the Ducati Monster speedlines blend it what Ducati stands for. Turn the watch counter clockwise and you can perhaps link the two knobs jutting out from the periphery being representative of the V Twin piston arrangements on a typical Ducati motorcycle. Everything, from the box packing to the watch itself, exuded luxury while being fiercely uncompromising on imparting a sense of speed and style. And indeed it felt heavy and solid on the wrists. I chose to stick with the fabric strap and let the leather strap be in the box lest it gets dulled by the sun and sand I was about to encounter in my travels ahead.
From there on Marcel and me started for Abu Dabhi which was a good 150 kms away in the searing afternoon heat. Marcel was riding a Monster 1100 evo. The highway was nothing short of fantastic, though I could not help but notice that it was not too motorcycle friendly. There were petrol pumps, but not immediately visible from the highway, and were few and apart. Last time I remember feeling so much heat was in Death Valley last year when I was riding a Diavel. It was 50 degrees odd over there, and here it wasn’t far behind at 46, or that’s what the MultiStrada console told me.
Thats Marcel on the Monster 1100 riding with me to Abu Dabhi!
The heat was compounded here by the relatively faster speeds that we were maintaining. Legaly you are allowed to be 20% more than the advisory speed limits, which was a 120 kmph here. This meant I was around 150 kmph true and 160 kmph speedo most of the 150 kms to Abu Dabhi. Along the way I saw mostly BIG SUVs with people comfortably ensconced from what was going on outside with the sun. Big SUV’s are not a problem as I found out during my first gas station refuel – the cost of 1 litre of premium petrol ( 95 Octane!), was 1.8 Dirhams (equivalent to 27 INR) and the cost of 500ml of water was 1 Dirham (15 rupees). So petrol was actually CHEAPER than mineral water here!
We arrived in Abu Dabhi by 1.30 PM or so. Along the way I felt unbelievable pangs of heat going down to my core, I could just only think how Marcel was managing without any wind protection at those speeds on the Monster. Good show by him indeed!
We went straight to the Abu Dabhi Ducati showroom. It was still under construction and was due completion and launch by September this year. When done this will be the largest Ducati showroom in the world! The height of the ceiling itself was quite amazing. They had a RIDE-IN reception (!), a Caffe, a transparent Dyno room where all the reading would be displayed to the people in the Caffe, an accessory department, multiple bay service area and of course the showroom itself. But HOLD ON! There was a huge facility where people could actually go and part their bike inside locked ‘cages’ with their gears and ride them out with the appropriate credentials. How cool is that!
^This will be the dyno room
Then it was a run to the iconic landmark of Abu Dabhi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Sheikh Zayed was the one whose efforts and sincerity got all the emirates together 40 odd years ago in what we know today as the UAE (United Arab Emirates). He also credited to give all religions equal importance in society and was concerned about women welfare. A true visionary, he is now succeeded by his son, Sheikh Khalifa, after which world tallest building the, Burj Khalifa is named in Dubai. The mosque is one of the few in the world where non Muslims are welcome to gain an insight into Islam. It is also very modern with escalators etc. However, we did not pay a visit inside, our heads were spinning because of the heat and we just wanted to get inside a AC room. So after viewing the majestic white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque we headed out for the Yas Marina circuit and Ferrari World.
^On the right is Sheikh Zayed and on the left his son and successor, Sheikh Khalifa. Their larger than life hoardings can be found pretty much everywhere in Dubai and Abu Dabhi.
^The Ferrari world building
At the Yas Marina facility we had lunch sitting in racing car seats at the Stars and Bars motorsports themed restaurant. Post that we headed out to Ferrari world, which is a very interestingly made building (especially from the sky above). They even had a Ducati corner shop at the entrance of the Ferrari World. FW is a theme park and it takes at least a couple of hours to see it properly. I was quite interested, but at the same time decided to head back with Marcel himself to Dubai. Later in the night I stickered the MultiStrada with the stickies that I got from India. And it looked all kitted out ready to go…
^Some shopping done at the Ducati showroom
^And thats my Lenovo!