A new TV documentary highlighting complaints about rich, young Khaleeji men turning London’s streets into their own personal playground is sparking debate and discussion online about multiculturalism and tolerance.
Channel 4‘s “Millionaire Boy Racers” focuses on the so-called “Arab supercar season” in London every summer, when young male Gulf residents flock to the UK’s capital for lengthy holidays, often with their imported supercars in tow.
These men like to show off their cars in the central London borough of Knightsbridge, the location of popular luxury store Harrods, which was bought by Qatar in 2010.
Several long-term Knightsbridge residents feature in the film, in which they relate tales of sleepless nights due to the volume of engine noise these supercars create.
They also complain that the cars are driven erratically and at excessive speeds, posing a serious safety risk.
Although no Qatari men are featured in the film, the footage includes several supercars clearly displaying Qatari number plates, as well as images of the Doha skyline.
The film cannot be viewed on Channel Four’s website from Qatar, but it has been uploaded to YouTube:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHcPevHHupE]
The documentary has proved controversial partly due to comments made in the film by residents about the effect they feel so many tourists from the Gulf are having on their local area.
For example, resident Justin describes the Gulf tourist season as “reverse colonisation” and is seen telling a policeman that he doesn’t like the new multi-cultural nature of his home.
Conversely, two British car enthusiasts featured in the documentary explain why they love to see the cars on London’s streets, and express dismay at the campaign to get rid of them.
The film also showcases the extravagant lifestyles of several young male tourists from KSA and Kuwait, who are seen visiting exclusive nightclubs and running up huge bills during their nights out on the town.
Patrick George, writing for car news website Jalopnik, says that the film’s underlying story – the clash of cultures rather than cars vs pedestrians – is what makes it such a must-see.
“The cultural clash between the wealthy Brits and the extremely wealthy “Gulfies,” who come to London for the summer to escape the restrictions in their countries and hoon their cars, is pretty interesting.
While I can understand why some of the London residents are annoyed, I’m a bit surprised none of them recognize the ironies involved here. I mean, no one from England has EVER gone to another country and imposed their way of life on anyone else, right? I can’t think of any times in history where that’s happened. Not a single one.”
This isn’t the first time that “supercar season” has been the focus of media attention.
An article in the UK’s Daily Mail last summer spoke of the “Ramadan gold rush,” featuring pictures of Gulf-registered cars parked all over London’s most exclusive district.
And it’s not just noise pollution that concerns nearby Westminster Council, which in 2010 decided to name and shame the foreign owners of supercars who had left nearly £4million of parking fines unpaid.
From 2007-2010, foreign drivers failed to pay 36,332 parking tickets in the borough, leaving the council £3,776,490 out of pocket, according to the Telegraph.
The council said that one Arab owner of a £300,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom owed them £2,000 for 18 parking tickets alone.
In July 2010, a photo of two supercars – a Koenigsegg CCXR and a Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce, thought to be owned by members of the Qatari royal family – showed the two cars clamped for parking illegally outside the front of Harrods, which the family owns.
London’s councils are often unable to chase debts from foreign owners because they have no way of finding out how to contact them once they have left the country.
Have you seen the documentary? What did you think?
Credit: Photo by Grismarengo2