Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Harley revs up for Mena rally in Doha Qatar

Riders of the Qatar chapter on the move in West Bay
The dust cannot hide the buzz in the air as Harley Davidson Doha prepares for one of the biggest events it has ever hosted – the 12th Middle East and North Africa Harley Owners Group (HOG) rally.
Tomorrow, the Doha HOGs would rev up to welcome Hoggies from across the region riding into Qatar for the three day rally, with the visitors to be escorted from the border to the rally centre at Marriott Hotel for registration.

The event was awarded to Doha in December and NBK, the local distributor for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, is pulling out all stops to make it a memorable experience for all.
As dawn breaks on Friday, the guttural roar of engines and dazzling chrome will be hard to resist as the riders cruise to Al Khor before returning later in the day for the highlight of the event – the Custom Bike Show. This show is open to all makes and brands with awards up for grabs in 20 categories. The award ceremony is at 6pm.

With the ‘formalities’ of the rally behind them, the Hogs are to ride on Saturday for some hard-earned R&R at Dukhan beach before returning to the Marriot for the formal closing ceremony.

HOG rallies are the biggest events in a Harley rider’s (or Hoggie’s) calendar with riders all over the world covering hundreds and even thousands of kilometres to get to these locations. These epic rides, sometimes passing through several countries, and the huge bike carnivals at the end of the ride are big draws with riders. These rides create the opportunity for people from all over the world to meet and pursue their common interest - motorcycling.

General manager Abdul Kader Ghalaieeny with Willie G Davidson, grandson of a founder of the company
Harley Davidson Qatar general manager Abdul Kader and Harley Davidson sales manager Andrew Kelly spoke about the significance of the rally to Doha and Harley.

Kader said this is a huge social occasion for riders from across the region and further out. People from the region “will see for themselves what is behind the buzz that Doha and Qatar has created around the world”.
“Doha is hosting the World Cup in 2020 and people want to witness for themselves what Qatar has to offer and its achievements,” said Abdul Kader.
“The nation has progressed rapidly on all fronts including sport because of the vision of the HH the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and HH the Heir Apparent, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,” Kader said.

“NBK has also grown under the guidance of Sheikh Nawaf, who has been actively promoting sport.”
Kader elaborated on the key goals that Harley has in mind. “Rider safety is a very important objective and to this end certified trainers are available to bring new riders up to speed and brush up existing riders skills.
“Another important goal is HOG’s outreach program. HOG partners with local companies to promote local causes and charities. HOG is working with the Qatar Cancer Society and organises HOG rides to raise awareness on breast cancer. HOG also works with the Shafallah Centre and other similar institutions and groups.”

Kader eyes the future with a gleam in his eye. “This rally is a Mena rally, but the next rally will be organised by the local office.”
Harley is pondering expansion into other cities with pilot showrooms in places like Al Khor – closer to its customers. Harley is planning to organise more such events to give local riders more exposure. These events will be focused on the region to promote local motorsport and tourism, with a minimum of four events every year.

Sales manager Kelly said: “The dealership is working to introduce more women and bring in more younger riders.”
Part of these efforts is the ‘Start to Ride’ package and their Jump Start ‘simulator’ which have been deployed at various Harley-organised events.

The Jump Start motorbike is a Harley motorcycle that is clamped in place on a platform. This is ideal for people who have never ridden. You get on and shift through the gears and rev up the engine to get a feel of the motorcycle without having to deal with the vagaries of the road.
The Start to Ride package gets the dealership involved from the learning stage when a prospective rider enrolls at a driving school. The dealer arranges registration at the driving school and the new bike will be on hand at the riding school so a new rider can move to learning on his new bike once he or she has gained in confidence. The dealer also provides riding gear and financing options, with NBK offering in-house financing plans. Subsequently the dealership arranges an introduction to the local chapter of HOG and a one-to-one class with a ‘chapter’ road captain.

Harley celebrates its 110th anniversary in August this year with the launch of limited edition bikes through the entire range. Kelly hints that the launch may include a few surprise packages.

Harley Davidson Qatar is also moving to its new ‘superstore’ in Salwa, which both Kader and Kelly said would be a landmark for Doha and probably the best store in the region.
The new store will feature an interactive customising application. The customer creates his motorcycle on an I-pad and the result can be flicked onto a main screen.

But for now, even the dust storms lashing the region are unlikely to deter Hoggies in town from hitting the road on their shining steeds of steel, iron and chrome!

Source from GulfTimes-Roshan Cherian

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