AS the region’s car rental industry prepares for another year of challenges SALIM DAMJI, general manager, Budget Car & Van Rental – UAE, speaks to TTN about the unique properties of the region and plans for the future.
How does the Middle East car rental market differ from that in other parts of the world?
Unlike other countries, most of the Gulf countries lack a developed public transportation system. As a result, the car rental market plays a vital role to meet the transportation needs of the country and this holds good for both visitors and residents.
Is there increased long-term rental here due to the high number of expatriate workers who may not be on permanent contracts?
Yes. It benefits both corporate and individual customers as it is hassle-free transportation and allows customers to spend their capital investment budget on core business needs. Vehicle leasing is a well established service in UAE.
Does the relatively inexpensive cost of fuel in this part of the world impact on the types of vehicles people are looking to rent?
SUVs and high-powered cars are still in demand, despite the current situation. This is due to inexpensive fuel, excellent UAE road network as well as for more protection in the event of an accident.
How important is the Middle East market to Budget, are there further plans for expansion here?
Budget is the top-ranked car rental company in the Middle East. In the UAE Budget is continuing to expand its network. New offices have been opened in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai and further openings are planned for 2010.
Has 2009 been as bad as expected due to the financial crisis and are there hopeful signs ahead for 2010?
In 2009, the overall UAE car rental market size has reduced, but in this environment Budget has been able to increase its market share through its value-for-money service, superior service quality and expanded network. We expect key demand in 2010 to remain similar or slightly better than 2009 with stronger growth towards the end of 2010.
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