The Dubai Motor Show opens December 15 with organizers promising to coat a Lexus in priceless gold leaf, despite the region's well-publicized economic troubles.

The show is the largest auto show in the Middle East and traditionally attracts high-end manufacturers, a pedigree which appears to have lost none of its appeal this year. Dubai's car dealers remain optimistic about the luxury market, due to many high net-worth households remaining unaffected by the financial crisis.

Fourteen world unveilings are expected, a higher number than ever before, with the manufacturer list dominated by high-end or niche brands. Luxury or performance marques expected to be on display include Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Westfield. Tellingly, several of these brands were absent from lineup of the recent Los Angeles Auto Show.

"To be hosting global launches for such high profile brands as Arash Super Cars, Kepler, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Renault puts the Dubai Motor Show and the Middle East in the world spotlight, and ends the year on an undeniably positive note," said Trixee Loh, senior vice president, exhibitions for the show organizers Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

Amongst the top-end vehicles on show are the handbuilt Danish supercar Zenvo ST-1 and the world's fastest production car, the U.S. made ShelbySuperCar 2010 Ultimate Aero. Aston Martin will display its One-77, named as only 77 vehicles were produced and fellow British brand Arash will show the €351,000 AF-10.

Amongst the supercars, mainstream manufacturers maintain that Dubai and the Middle East remain important markets despite the recent turmoil. Worldwide and regional debuts have been announced by Fiat, Ford, Mini, and Renault. The average Emirati household in Dubai owns 2.35 cars, compared to an estimated 1.78 per household in the US, and 1 per household in Japan.

"Ford's commitment to the Middle East has never been stronger," said Waldo Galan, Ford Middle East's managing director. "The Dubai International Motor Show provides an excellent opportunity to showcase our latest models and we are proud to have been continuously part of the show since its launch in 1991."

Earlier this year, the Dubai Chamber forecasted that auto sales would rise by 5 percent from 2009 to 2010, a significant amount for a region hard hit the freezing of liquidity that followed the global financial crisis. It is estimated that 70 percent of new car purchases made in the UAE are on credit.

The Dubai International Motor Show is open to the public December 16 - 20, tickets are AED 40 (€7.20).

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