March 30 – April 1
The third annual Custom Show Emirates (March 30 – April 1) drew record crowds to the 36,000 sq m (380,000 sq ft) Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC), and is now firmly established as the leading expo destination for petrol heads from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and wider Middle Eastern markets with bikes, cars, stunts and drift shows, with 25 teams and many other activities attracting almost 40,000 visitors.
|The Middle East Biker Build-Off saw current Las Vegas champion Pete Pearson (Rocket Bobs, UK, seen here on the left) pitted against (relatively) local builder Hussain Salmeen of Kuwait Choppers|
In the V2 area, Indian and Harley-Davidson drew the crowds in, with both manufacturers continuing to open up the market in the Middle East and seeing sales grow steadily. Sales numbers are still relatively modest, but with some 1.6 Bn potential consumers across the Muslim world as a whole, one third of whom are under the age of 15 and two thirds under 30, it isn’t only American, European and Japanese motorcycle manufacturers who are eying the potential $2.6 trillion plus of disposable income that the Arab and broader Muslim markets of the Near, Mid and Far East represent.
Aftermarket exhibitors included Augustin Motorcycles and Schrammwerk from Germany, Dutch sound-adjustable exhaust specialist Dr Jekill & Mr Hyde and Black Duck Parts from Spain - in addition to several of the emerging Emirates and wider Middle East based custom shops.
|Some 80 bikes competed in the custom bike show|
A show highlight was the Middle East Biker Build-Off, which saw current Las Vegas champion Pete Pearson (Rocket Bobs, UK) pitted against (relatively) local builder Hussain Salmeen of Kuwait Choppers.
Pearson’s was a Rocket Bobs built swingarm frame based special with a 1,750 ccm 11:1 compression ratio Shovel engine, with Hussain Salmeen opting for a frameless bike with the Twin Cam engine as a stressed member (called ‘Junk Project’).
The public voters judged their “local hero” Kuwait Choppers to have won, but in a gesture that summed up the friendly and supportive rivalry that characterized their contest, Hussain Salmeen wanted to give the trophy to Pete Pearson – who’s solution was to split it in half for shared honors!
The formula for the weekend is that of a car show that is affiliated to SEMA, which offers a ‘Show-within-Show’ (SEMA Middle East) exhibit opportunity for its members, with Swiss-Custom, the custom bike show staged at the respected annual Swiss-Moto in Zurich every year, backing the custom bike competition with bike freight and travel expense prizing for the winner to compete at their show from 22-25 February 2018.
Altogether some 80 bikes competed in the custom bike show, with Engels Schmiede (Uetersen, Germany) winning the Radical class and Best Paint, and Bobber Garage winning the Best Oldtimer class. Best of Show went to TT Custom, who were also selected by Swiss-Moto to go to their show in 2018.
|Exhibitors included Black Duck Parts from Barcelona, Spain (Quim Carrascosa Garcia seen here)|
Organized by respected journalist, photographer and promoter Frank Sander (Thunder Media), the event is the largest show of its kind in the Middle East, with Abu Dhabi the administrative capital and largest of the seven countries that make up the 9.1m population of the UAE. Competitors included leading Emirati customizers such as Lycan Custom, Custom Bikes Al Ain and Sheik Customs, in addition to European, Australian, Chinese and American competitors.
The bike show requires all entries to be runners, and classes include scooters, OEM bikes, three-wheelers, classic/vintage bikes, Bobbers, streetbikes, metric cruisers, modified Harleys, Streetfighters (very popular in performance oriented Middle East), Sportsters and customized Indian models and tourers, in addition to radical customs.
Next year's Custom Show Emirates will again be staged at Abu Dhabi, UAE, from 29 to 31 March 2018.