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When one thinks of Dubai, images of expensive luxury cars on its roads often come to mind. And while there is a fair amount of such vehicles to be seen on the Emirate’s motorways, they also feature appearances by some very unique vintage cars as well. These classic automobiles can be found at showrooms across the region, but none is as versatile as Nostalgia Classic Cars.
Founded in 2016, Nostalgia Classic Cars is a Dubai-based classic car showroom, the first of its kind in the UAE. Located in the artistic complex of Al Serkal Avenue in Al Quoz, Nostalgia -with a showroom that’s spread across 10,000 square feet- offers a variety of vintage car models that includes rare finds like the 1964 Mercedes Benz 220SE, or the 1923 Ford Model T. But Nostalgia is more than just a showroom- it also offers restoration services for vintage cars.
Nostalgia’s restoration services, image credit: Nostalgia Classic Cars
At the head of the Nostalgia operation is President and founder Mazin Al Khatib, an ex-banker who used his expertise in business management, and combined it with his passion of collecting automobiles of the past, to launch this enterprise. According to Al Khatib, the defining factor of a classic car is anything more than 25 years old- that’s what makes it “collectable,” he says. As a collector himself, Al Khatib’s collection, which he started in 2004, today includes a plethora of brands- but he admits to having a favorite all the same. “I’m a Porsche guy,” he reveals. “I love Porsche, I breathe Porsche.”
It should come as no surprise then that it is Al Khatib’s passion for cars that drove him to make a career transition, and set out on his entrepreneurial journey with Nostalgia. “Nostalgia’s story had been developing in my mind for years,” Al Khatib recalls. “I was an investment banker, and one day, when I decided to leave the financial banking domain and semi-retire, I felt like I was still too young to completely retire. I then drew up a business plan for Nostalgia, and then, having been an investment banker in private equity, I used my experience to start implementing it. And that is how Nostalgia Classic Cars was started.”
Mercedes Benz 220SE 1964 offered by Nostalgia Classic Cars, image credit: Nostalgia Classic Cars
As an entrepreneur, Al Khatib has had to juggle many duties. Nostalgia has two branches, both in the aforementioned Al Quoz complex- one of these is the auto shop where they maintain and install classic cars, and the other is its trading arm. Each of these sub-entities, however, has a system of its own, and Al Khatib says that he always keeps a close eye on both of them. “My employees come to me with certain servicing items that they’re not allowed to do without my approval,” Al Khatib explains, “I keep myself busy for the rest of the day by doing financial servicing, within the domain of my banking experience.”
Given its location in Dubai, Al Khatib believes Nostalgia benefits from the Emirate’s culture of car enthusiasm that is -arguably- unparalleled to the rest of the region. Dubai is also considered as home for Al Khatib, who moved to the city when he was just nine years old, and has thus become a “Dubaian.” But apart from the sentimental factor, Al Khatib states that, on a practical level, the Emirate is a great place to launch a business. “If you want to apply logic, I think Dubai and the UAE in general is the right place to consider for either establishing a business, or moving a business,” he says. “Why? Number one is the law, it’s applied to everybody, as long as you know your duties and responsibilities. Number two is the flexibility. I’m sure you’ve heard and read how easy it is to establish a company as compared to other countries. Dubai makes it so easy and so simple for anybody to come and establish here. Number three -and this is a very important factor- is the safety. How safe do you feel walking in any neighborhood in Dubai at any time of a day?… These three factors make Dubai.”