MME rocked it live at the Motor Show

Great new initiative by World Trade Centre for the Motor Show, saw us live on stage every night of the Dubai Motor Show

By Shahzad Sheikh

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

We were delighted and honoured to be asked to host the Ignition Live Talks at the 2015 Dubai Motor Show by the World Trade Centre in the second week of November.

It was a great new initiative for the show that allowed us to bring to the fore an incredible array of topical discussion and knowledgeable guests, and gave show visitors an opportunity to rest their feet and be entertained and informed, before moving on to the check out the biggest Dubai Motor Show yet. See our coverage of the show here.

Click below to watch a few clips from the Ignition Live Talk Panel Shows

So every afternoon (weekends) or evening (weekdays) of the show, Motoring Middle East took over the Ignition Live Panel in hall 4 – right next to the Lotus stand and opposite Mazda and put on live discussion talk shows about topics as vast ranging as ‘How to restore a classic’ and ‘cars in movies’ to as controversial as ‘How to be a better tailgater’ and ‘The Lady Racers.

Here’s a roundup of the talks:

Tuesday 10 November

We were at the show since 7am for the press day and filming the videos you can see at this link. The show opened to the public at 6pm and that’s when we were live on stage for the first time.

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

What is GCC Spec (And the Truth about Hot Weather Testing)?

We were joined by Ziyad ‘Zee’ Dallalah, chief engineer from Ford Middle East, and as another guest had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances, we managed to rope in James Burnett – a hot weather test driver for several manufacturers (amongst other things including performance driving instructor and events manager).

Zee was able to give us incredible insights into the lengths manufacturers go to in order to develop and prepare the cars for our extreme climate and environmental conditions, whilst James revealed some of the driving techniques and skills required to assess the cars.

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

How to make a Fortune (or lose one) on a Classic Car

We were joined by James Nicholls all the way from Australia (a classic car expert, writer and auctioneer), Gaurav Dhar (a classic car collector from here in Dubai) and Miguel Llorente, curator at the Al Ain Classic Car Museum.

These extremely experienced and knowledgeable panellists revealed that it was indeed possible to make money on a classic car, but not always that easy, and nor should that be the purpose of buying a classic car in the first place.

Wednesday 11 November

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

 Why doesn’t your Stereo Sound this Good?

With Thierry Gay from EMMA and professional music artist and rap singer Two Tone on hand, we learnt that it was still possible to customise your car when it came to enhance car audio and entertainment systems and how it was possible to custom set-up your in-car sound to match the best that home or theatre systems could offer.

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

How to Buy & Run your Dream Classic

With Akram Miknas – founder of Promoseven holdings and classic car collector, Brian Reilly from Zurich Insurance, Tom Tacker from Al Ain Classic Car Museum and Gaurav Dhar returning, we had people with real-world experience of buying, owning and running classics.

We leant how and why you should choose the right classic car to buy, how to research it, where to buy it, and even how to get it into the UAE. We learnt that it was possible to insure it and where and how to maintain it. We also looked at the pitfalls and problems you might face – of which there were many, and what obstacles would lay in your path to classic car ownership.

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

Don’t be Boring, Drive Retro Cool!

We had the bosses of two boutique car companies – Alan Stote from The Alvis Car Company and David Brown from David Brown Automotive, as well as John Steans from Eras Classics and Customs in Dubai – purveyors of cool cars such as Lotus, Morgan, Caterham and Noble, as well as restored classic cars.

This discussion revealed that it was possible to ditch the dull daily-drivers and move to more exotic, exciting and enticing rides to get the most from your motoring. At Motoring Middle East we’re all about wanting you to enjoy your driving and we emphatically subscribe to the concept of driving something that’s cool and charismatic rather than mundane but dependable. That usually means some classic or at least a retro-ride.

Thursday 12 November

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

Be a Better Tailgater!

This was obviously a tongue-in-cheek title and actually referred to a discussion on road safety with experts such as Thomas Edelmann from Road Safety UAE and Emirati Mostafa Aldah who holds a PHD in road safety from the UK.

This was one of our most popular and interactive sessions, and we were able to get a lot of audience participation, mostly from people realising they were in the wrong, but also from at least one person who seemed to have taken the title literally, and whose only complaint was that there were too many speed cameras, that they were hidden too well and that they were the cause of his AED38,000 worth of speeding fines – not seeming to understand that it was his own bad driving that was leaving him out of pocket!

Things got very boisterous and we even gave away prizes courtesy of Edelmann to those that answered road safety questions correctly! Though I soon realised that the T-shirt I was handing to the really big fella simply wasn’t going to fit! All in all in this turned out to be surprisingly fun session.

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

How to do an Off-Road Expedition

We had two experienced adventurers for this one! Manuel Schmitd from the Land Rover Owners club has driven his Defender across countries – including Saudi Arabia – and Neville Darukhanawalla rode a scooter across Sahara in an epic expedition.

They were both able to relate their own personal experiences and describe the pitfalls and obstacles to look out for when undertaking a modern expedition, as well as the how-to and preparation, but most of all their discussion was sure to inspire show-goers to buy a Land Rover or Jeep and head off into the great unknown!

Motoring Middle East Ignition Live Talks at 2015 Dubai Motor Show

Getting in to Formula 1

For this we had two Formula 1 journalists – former racer and writer Darukhanawalla stayed on, current F1 commentator, Damien Reid, agreed to join us at the last minute and we also had the most prominent Emirati lady in the world of International Motor Sports, Nahla AlRostamani – she was involved in the F1 races at Yas Marina circuit, as well as being a pretty handy racer herself!

The experts told us the horrendously high cost of getting into F1, but if that didn’t put you off they revealed  what it takes to be an F1 driver, and how a modern F1 driver is made. But there’s more to F1 than just driving, and our panellist also revealed other ways that people could get involved in the world’s premier form of motor racing.

Friday 13 November

Cars and Girls!

Nahla AlRostamani joined us again for this panel, along with friend of Motoring Middle East, Lex Akehurst of XSport – racer, manager, events organiser and editor of CircuitProDigital – to reveal that girls were in fact into cars, did know more than a little about them, and could also be quite quick when it came to competition or track days (quicker than the boys even!).

How to Start you Own Car Company!

We were very fortunate to have two of the leading lights at the head of creating a new industry right here in the UAE, Mohammed Al Qadi from Zarooq Motors, and Mostafa Aldah returned, this time in his capacity as member of the team behind the amazing UAE Roadster!

This was a truly fascinating and inspiring discussion about how one could still dream the dream of creating a car and car company from scratch and make it happen. Afterwards, several youngsters from the audience came to meet the dynamic duo and to get further inspiration.

Cars in the Movies

We always knew this would be one of the most popular discussions of the entire series, and we weren’t wrong. This panel, featuring Arafaat from ExtraCake (organisers of the annual UAE Film and Comic Con), plus Shariq A Madani of and the return of Miguel Llorento this time as a student of film.

Plus of course our own Imthishan Giado hosted it, and as something of film nerd, the ensuring discussion was lively and very animated. The panel tried to examine what made a good ‘car movie’ and a good ‘car chase’ as well as what were the best recent examples, and that eternal question – why aren’t today’s car movies as good as they used to be?

Restoring a Classic

Then things got really serious when we put up a picture of a classic car with pretty much a quarter of it completely missing, and then displayed it in all its resplendent glory as a fully restored finished example. Simon Crispe, who had carried out the restoration was on-hand to explain exactly how he did it.

He was joined by Vijay Pillai of Max Garage and Dean La Reux of Ramy 4×4 who also had extensive experience of working on restoring classic and vintage cars. It was heartening to learn that ‘barn finds’ could be restored to a high standard, right here in the UAE.

Saturday 14 November

Tuning and Customisation

Zlatko Mulabegovic, Editor of the region’s premier magazine when it comes to tuning and customisation, as well as Suhaib Shashaa of Arab GT and John Steans of Eras – returning, but here in his capacity as a former modifier – ensured we had a panel of the best and most experience experts in the business.

How to tune and customise your car, what you should do, what you shouldn’t, where you should go, where should you get your parts from and even the legality of modifications were all covered extensively in this highly informative discussion.

How to be a Racing Driver

Our own Noel Ebdon joined us for this panel discussion, a sometime bike racer, he’s now attempting to do a season of Touring Car motor racing on the lowest possible budget – and you can read his story here. Seasoned professional Mohammed Al Falasi – former race winner, event organiser, founder of Drift UAE and race schools such as Pro Drift Academy, was also on hand.

Both were able to recount the experiences of their own distinct routes into motor racing, and proceeded to inspire the audience to getting off the roads and into safe motor racing environments. There was some good audience participation and it was wonderful to see Al Falasi encouraging the chap with the Corolla who was very keen to try his hand at driving fast.

Afterwards, even local motor racing hero, Rally legend and President of the Automobile Touring Club of the UAE, H.E. Dr Mohammed Ben Sulayem, popped by to say hello and we got a great photo opportunity!

How to Off-Road

Another highly informative and entertaining session which featured Oomen Jacob of Torq Garage, Marwan Semaan of Ramy 4×4 and Ali Asger Rokadia, Emirates Off-Roaders, who ran through everything from what sort of car you would need, where you should go, how you should prepare for it, the dos and don’ts, modifications you could make, and the dangers involved.

The Lady Racers

And the final panel of our five-day live show was another hit with the show-goers as Nahla AlRostamani and Lex Akehurst returned and gave us a detailed and unfiltered insight into what it was like to be a woman in a man’s world.

The no-holds barred discussion revealed some startling home-truths particularly when it came to a young Emirati girl wanting to break from tradition and pursue a career in the motor racing arena. This was a fascinating and inspiring panel to end an amazing run of the 16 hour-long panel discussions over the full five days of the Motor Show.

A number of people have asked where they can see or listen to the recordings of these session, unfortunately these were one-time only live events. So if you missed them, too bad; but you never know, we may be back for the 2017 Dubai Motor Show!

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