We catch up with general manager Najeeb Abdullah ahead of open day
Time Out Bahrain staff
As iconic motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson prepares to launch its 2013 models, the Bahrain showroom is gearing up for an open day which will raise funds for the UN World Food Programme. We caught up with general manager Najeeb Abdullah to find out more
HD is having an open day in October, when will it be and what will it entail? We call it an open house day where all the bike enthusiasts are invited to see the all new 2013 models and to test ride any of them. In Bahrain we’ve chosen to do the launch on Saturday, October 13. 2013 is the 110th anniversary of the motor company and there are exclusive, limited models.
I understand there will also be a charity element? Harley-Davidson MENA has created an exclusive collectors’ pin that marks the 2013 year and the occasion. This will be sold on all the dealer counters and the proceeds will go to the United Nations World Food Programme. The charity parade will also be highlighting the programme and representatives of the UN-WFP will be present at the dealership on the day. Last year we, the five dealers in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, contributed $10,000 and this year we aim to double that.
Can members of the public join in and what can they expect? Everyone is welcome to visit the open day and to participate in the WFP charity parade in the evening. Entertainment and snacks will be served throughout the day. All 2013 models will be available to test ride on the road for those who hold a valid motorcycle licence and, for those who don’t, we offer our exclusive jump-start machine on which they can ride and feel the real Harley-Davidson experience at 100 miles per hour.
The Harley owners in Bahrain get together and ride regularly, how many members do you have in the Harley Owners Group and how many would you expect to see out on a ride? The HOG Bahrain chapter has about 600 Harley owners registered and about 200 of them are actively renewing their membership every year. The group is guided by an executive committee. The regular rides are on Friday mornings and other rides are on occasions approved by the committee. Participation in regular rides is about 50 riders and occasional rides can go more than 100 depending on the cause and the weather conditions. However taking into consideration road safety and disturbance for other vehicles, a road captain and a sweeper rides for each 15 riders.
When the Harley Owners Group is involved in charity events, what do they do? In the past years the HOG Bahrain chapter has been riding in support of international events like the Think Pink cancer awareness programme, diabetes awareness programme etc. The group also rides on both Eid festivals for charity causes, particularly things like homes for the disabled. They will go spend time with the residents and present gifs to them. The group, when riding for a cause, gives a lot of publicity by wearing the logos of the event and advertising it among group members.
The open day will support the World Food Programme but you’re also involved with Think Pink this month? When a large number of Harley owners ride wearing pink that by itself is an advertisement for the cause. The group also volunteers in selling merchandise. HOG Bahrain Chapter has been supporting Think Pink for several years. Every year the number of riders and the support grows. The dealer also supported the cause by selling provided merchandise at the store.
The Harley has the name of being an older person’s bike and the brand is known for encouraging mature riding – what is this and how does Harley-Davidson promote it? I would like to correct the word older to matured, its not the age but we can say Harley riders are matured riders. Harley-Davidson always encouraged and is investing heavily in preaching matured riding. The high torque engines are cruisers and not racers. H-D sells and encourages all riders to wear full safety gear on the road. H-D is the only brand that invests in developing safety conscious fashion for bike riders.
I understand one particular element is a high concentration on safety for riders? In Bahrain we opened the first Harley-Davidson approved Motorcycle Training Academy at the Bahrain International Circuit. We have three full-time trainers and a couple of part-timers who have been trained by an instructor from UK police. We have the full range of H-D bikes in the academy so that a rider can get the Harley experience and learn techniques of matured and safe riding. We also send our HOG officers on subsidised training and safety programmes around the world.